April 28, 2017
The biggest movie of 2017, or perhaps of Indian cinema, is here. Bahubali 2 aka Bahubali: The Conclusion is in theatres, and it is an experience that has to be enjoyed on the big screen only. So all those people watching the pirated version of the movie on their mobile phones, you are missing out on the whole point of why the movie exists in the first place. If you are watching it on your phones, it’s your loss. Anyway, Bahubali 2 is directed by SS Rajamouli, and stars an ensemble cast to the likes of Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Tamannaah Bhatia and Rana Daggubati in the lead roles. While the first movie was a treat to watch, though its narrative was patchy.
Nearly 80 percent of the movie is set in establishing Amarendra Bahubali’s love story and how it leads to his own demise, before his son takes over and makes things right for the kingdom of Mahishmati. Amarendra (Prabhas) is just a few weeks away from being appointed the king, when his adoptive mother and Queen Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) asks him to tour the kingdom before his anointment, along with his trusted aide and uncle Kattappa (Sathyaraj). While doing so, he meets and falls in love with Devasena (Anushka Shetty), the fearless warrior princess of Kunthala. Bhalladheva (Rana Daggubati), Sivagami’s real son, who is also infatuated with Devasena, uses this opportunity to poison Sivagami’s mind against Baahubali, and he becomes the king in the process. How he manages to finish Amarendra forever and how his son Mahendra (Prabhas again) manages to avenge his father’s death is what the rest of the movie is all about.
Prabhas is not the hero of the movie… I mean, Prabhas is not the only hero of the movie. Let me list down the real heroes that make Baahubali 2 such a grand experience for most of its runtime. Let’s start with the real hero – the director SS Rajamouli. For a dream to come true, there has to be a man with a great vision and dedication to run it, and for Baahubali, it’s always this whizkid from South. Though his direction is not perfect, Rajamouli manages to bring grandiose to every frame of the movie. This is a man who knows his craft, and every filmmaker should learn from his commitment and passion. He knows how to create powerful scenes, like Bhalladheva’s coronation scene or when Baahubali metes out justice to a perverse minister. You can’t help but cheer for the hero in these scenes, and it has more to do with how Rajamouli has crafted these scenes.
The second hero, or set of heroes, is the main cast. As the leading man, Prabhas commands your complete attention in every scene with his arresting screen presence and performance. He brings both mass appeal and class to his act, and we are grateful that Rajamouli chose such a dedicated actor as his hero. After being trapped in an old woman’s getup and in chains in the first movie, Anushka Shetty gets her spotlight here and she greedily grabs the opportunity to outshine even her leading man on a few instances. Her character is well-written, and she delivers her sharp dialogue with aplomb. Above all, her chemistry with Prabhas is amazing and that makes their love story heart-warming (unlike Prabhas and Tamannaah’s in the first movie, which bordered on creepy and unbelievable). Anushka is also great in action sequences.
The first half is quite engaging because of their love story and how it influences the politics of Mahishmati. Rana is subdued for most of the movie, till he gets to break out near the climax and exhibit his steely demeanor. Sathyaraj shines in both comic and dramatic scenes, with the highlight being the moment where he confronts Sivagami after carrying out the dreaded task. The reason why Kattappa kills Baahubali is predictable, but the buildup is done well. Ramya Krishnan continues her powerful act from the previous movie, while Nasser is, as always, adept in the role of the male Manthra.
Now let’s talk about the third hero – the technical department, especially the VFX, the art direction, cinematography and background score. The special effects on display are some of the best we have seen in Indian cinema. Sure, in certain scenes the CGI looks obvious, but we do have to give it to the team who gave it their best shot to make their director’s vision come alive. The cinematography by Senthil Kumar is simply brilliant. The way he captures the beauty of the kingdom or the grittiness of the war is simply spell-binding. If you are in love with every frame of the movie, it’s because of this man. The set direction is applause-worthy while the background score is powerful. The songs by MM Keeravani are suited for cinematic viewing, especially how they picturised the love song between Amarendra and Devasena. The action scenes are choreographed in a massy way that will appeal to almost everyone.
'Baahubali-2' has its share of hits and misses, writing-wise. How far the audience enjoy the scenes leading up to Baahubali's murder at Kattappa's hands will determine the film's enormity of success. First-rate performances, Devasena and Sivagami's decisions and the visuals are big hits. The war episode may be found to be less fascinating than the Kalakeya war in the first part. Forget about all the drawbacks. It is a legendary film, enjoy it watching this summer.