India's most awaited Baahubali 2 starring Prabhas and Rana Daggubati is the big release this week. Will the sequel break records at the box office? Here's our Baahubali: The Conclusion movie review.
Baahubali 2 takes the story forward from where The Beginning ended. Shivudu/ Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas), who learns about the death of his father Amarendra Baahubali (also Prabhas) through Katappa (Sathyaraj), is out seeking retribution against the mighty Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati). Will Mahendra Baahubali claim his rightful throne? That's Baahubali: The Conclusion.
When SS Rajamouli came up with Baahubali: The Beginning, the idea was to go for the international audience, outside the Indian diaspora. Strongly rooted in Indian ethos, what Rajamouli achieved with the first part is nothing short of remarkable - that of breaking the language barriers in India.
Let's admit for a second that the plot of Baahubali is nothing new, at least for the Indian audience. A kingdom under siege, jealous brothers, inevitable 'mother' sentiment, interesting characters and war sequences of epic proportions. But it's Rajamouli's knack of storytelling that wooed the audience.
If you recall the first part, Rajamouli doesn't unleash his hero until the film's interval block. For example, take the statue-lifting scene. Like the people of Mahishmati, we, as audiences, chanted Amarendra Baahubali's name. It's been two years since Baahubali's release, but the characters; their backstories are fresh in our memories. Perhaps, that's the impact it has on the audience.
Baahubali 2 begins with a voice-over of Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan), who pleads guilty by saying, "Amarendra Baahubali's son has to live. Let me succumb to my sins." A few seconds later, Rajamouli, with a fantastic set of posters, re-introduces some of the iconic scenes from Baahubali 1.
The story is weighted on Amarendra Baahubali. For instance, the kingdom of Kunthala is under threat. Devasena (Anushka Shetty) and the kingdom have to be rescued. After few scenes, Devasena comes to know of Amarendra Baahubali's real identity with a dramatic score by MM Keeravani. In some ways, Baahubali: The Beginning was rushed, but Rajamouli takes time to usher us into the main plot. But the narration is certainly not a dud here. For the most part, the screenplay is seamless with a perfect blend of fantasy and pageantry. Earlier in the film, there's a superb portion between Bijjala Deva (Nasser) and Katappa, where the former calls the warlord a 'dog'.
The first half goes back and forth between the characters, while we get a sense of what's actually happening in the film. But when Baahubali 2 hits the saturation point- the interval block, Rajamouli's writing evokes certain emotions that are ineffable. It goes without saying that the interval portion is the major highlight of the film. What's amusing about Baahubali is the hardcore story that takes inspiration from Mahabharata and Ramayana. There's a nod to MGR's Adimai Penn (1969), especially when Mahendra uses Devasena's shackles as a weapon. Madhan Karky's dialogues for the Tamil version are poignant, sometimes hard-hitting. Subbaraju plays an extended cameo, whose role is mostly funny. But he suddenly becomes a warrior after Baahubali's rousing speech.
Katappa is one of the fascinating characters ever written in Indian cinema. While we saw the 'serious' Katappa in part 1, the second instalment has the candid side of Sathyaraj, who's known for his witty one-liners. Just look out for the scene between Katappa and Baahubali where the latter says, "As long as you are by my side, a man who can kill me hasn't been born, uncle."
Why Katappa killed Baahubali was a well-written hook that left the audience madly waiting for the conclusion. However, it's the least of the major revelations. Although the million-dollar-question is fairly effective and far from flawed. For every subtle nuance you may have noticed in Baahubali: The Beginning, Rajamouli doesn't throw answers to the unanswered questions. But gives justification.
It takes guts to play a deglamorized role in a film like Baahubali. Had you thought Sivagami is the most powerful woman, you're probably wrong. For once, a heroine (Devasena) gets an apt introduction with such elegance and swag. Look out for the confrontation scene between Devasena and Sivagami, who don't necessarily need to deliver pages of dialogues. Their sparkling eyes does the needful.
Rana Daggubati as Bhallala Deva goes synonymous with unabashed power. If looked from an alternate perspective, he's also the star of Baahubali. But has to perform.
Rajamouli went on the record saying that Baahubali was possible because of Prabhas. He's right. Prabhas is the star, superstar and superhero in the film. He carries the story on his shoulders. He's terrific as Baahubali and less riveting as Mahendra. Having said that, it's unarguably Katappa who is the hero of the series. Much like Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.
Be it the kingdom of Mahishmati or Kunthala, Sabu Cyril's unparalleled works deserve special mention. Senthil Kumar's cinematography, backed by MM Keeravani's pulsating score elevate Baahubali, which is driven by its characters.
One of the most touted scenes - the epic face-off between Bhallala Deva and Mahendra Baahubali gives the necessary 'Rajamouli' moments. Peter Hein's stunt choreography works fine, but superficial in parts. We were mesmerised by the war techniques used in the first part. However, the techniques used here are laughable, sometimes. The makers have spent a whopping amount on VFX. But it's safe to say that Baahubali was better, in terms of visuals. And for the same, Rajamouli doesn't linger on too much.
The international audience enjoyed Baahubali: The Beginning as the characters were earthy and real. On the contrary, we, the Indian audience, often undermine the works of our filmmakers who strive to achieve big. Let's admire the sheer brilliance of one of the finest storytellers in India, SS Rajamouli.
After the climax, if you're reminded of the first shot of Baahubali, where Sivagami saves Mahendra Baahubali from drowning, you know, you enjoyed the amazing journey.