S S Rajamouli’s Baahubali : The Conclusion (2017) Movie Review
Star Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty, Tamannaah, Ramya Krishnan, Sathyaraj and Nassar. Directed by S S Rajamouli
Music Composed by M M Keeravani
Cinematography by K K Senthil Kumar
Edited by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao
Produced by Arka Media
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 170.51 Minutes
If ever there was the cinematic epitome of style over substance, it was S S Rajamouli’s Baahubali and now it’s sequel Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. Actually, scratch that, it’s more than an interquel, 300 style, auguring, overlapping and finally sequel-ling the original where honest army chief Kattappa kills undeterred warrior Amarendra Baahubali. Rajamouli’s follow up, again much like 300 (or Red Cliff) in that franchise, attempts to widen the canvas and paint the Kattappa’s struggle as just one piece of a much bigger conflict against Bhallaladeva & Amarendra Baahubali. Where Part I set up the pieces and hinted at greater machinations to the upcoming internal battle in Mahismathi Kingdom, Baahubali II pretty much kicks the door in and screams “who wants to get some answers!!” and then it pauses for a minute and screams slightly less loudly “let’s have some long strategic gambits first!”.
Baahubali II doesn’t start where Part I left off – bet you didn’t see that coming (straight narrative) – and concerns itself with the lead up to the battle that gave the movie its name. While Baahubali II and its predecessor both borrow heavily from the Mythology and few Asian sword-and-sandal films – and this one especially – end up being more battle themed film more than anything else.
Personal ambition. Familial loyalty. Political betrayal. The burden of leadership. It’s all here in this sequel to Baahubali. The story, if you can call it that, is a Indian mythology mishmash. A rampaging king Bhallaladeva (Rana) is torturing and killing his way across the borders of Mahismathi kingdom, while the rogue Vaithalikas dither over whether or not to intervene. Meanwhile, a mortal Shiva (Prabhas) decides to take matter into his own hands with the help of royal slave Kattappa (Satyaraj), of course after listening to his backstory.
In this ambition driven film performances does fill up the spaces and represent the characters. None of the actors seems to have completely sunk in their teeth in those characters. We can give credit to Prabhas for putting in lit of effort and his screen presence as Amarendra Baahubali dominates the movie proceedings. The actor gives an improved performance compared to the first part. Rana Daggubati finds his moment to shine, while killing Baahubali. Anushka Shetty with her consistency impresses and over rides her Arundhanthi act. So this can be called as her career best performance. Ramya Krishnan, Satyaraj and Nassar literally carry few scenes with their performances. In a ‘Relangi’ inspired role Subbaraju does have bit to contribute.
When it comes to scripting Baahubali makers have always been open about the inspirations from Mythology. Many Mythological stories are clubbed into one film, that you see today. That’s Baahubali. If you are wondering why am I referring to duology as one film, because the story makes sense not as two but one. Mythological stories from Mahabharata like; Kunti-Draupadi Samvadam, prehistory of Kouravas, Bheeshma – Satyavathi angle, Laaksha Dhruva dhahanam, Viratparval also antagonist character moulded on Ravana Bhramhas myths. You see with these many inspirations from Mythology, one expects a cohesive and meaning full story rather it falls into the traps of commercialism and ends being as routine as yesterday’s news paper.
As far as characterizations go Rajamouli does deliver one strong character in Devasena and promises to deliver a consistent character in Baahubali and Kattappa, but in his penchant to give all the characters grey shades, he dilutes the characters of Kattappa, Sivagami and Baahubali himself. One wonders how come Sivagami being so thoughtful can become gullible in a jiffy. While Baahubali appears to be a consistent character his love story doesn’t make any sense. Why does Baahubali think ‘Love is only possible, when you are not yourself ?’. Subbaraju‘s character does take us to happy world of cinema and helps us remember movies like Mayabazar, Pathalabhairavi and Many others. So tell me what new in Baahubali?
When it comes to execution Rajamouli takes us into dream world asking us to.forget and immerse into his vision. Well, with graphics and his imagination he does succeed in creating a world, but while executing his characters he does falter a lot. Sivagami, a character cross between Kunti and Gandhari does somehow use all the might and majesty in understanding the difference between Manupulation and love towards her son. Suddenly, Kunti turns into Kaikeyi sending Rama to Vanavasa. I think it could have been handled in a much more cleverly and also the character, that is cross between Rama and all the Pandavas, Baahubali suffers with acute belief trauma. For a person who can hear and identify the danger, can he be so gullible that he don’t understand our fear the mellcious activity of his brother or at-least of his uncle. These are just two examples how the character graph that’s so exciting in the first part goes down the lane further and further into an abyss of irrecoverable stupidity. When an outsider Devasena can identify the danger, won’t she be worrying what will next move of perpetrator be?
Normally in VFX we talk about ambiance lighting and individual character shadows according to the necessity of the scene. Any Cinematographer worth his salt will understand the main difference between computer generated lighting, natural lighting and artificial lighting creates for movie in production. VFX created for Hamsa Naava song, Mahismathi sea route and Kunthala Kingdom are praise worthy. Senthil Kumar does understand this difference quite well and seamlessly blends everything without seeming jarry. The visuals sooth your eye and the drama comes out really well with his staging tactics. The synth background score with Electronica, Guitars, Time lapse sounds and vocal chops, which burbles in the background music helps creating anamolestic tone to the action scenes in disguise. But falls flat when it comes to emotional sequences. M M Keeravani seems to have lost his touch in the department surprisingly for a brothers most important film. Dialogues by Vijay and Ajay Kumar are pedestrian not matching up to the magnitude of the production. Editing by Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao literally looses steam during Climax portions and also some scenes from the movie could have been. Trimmed for better effect. Hollywood action Choreographer Lee Whittaker and Keicha does looks lackluster in front of Peter Heins work from the first part.
The basic premise of any S S Rajamouli film is to follow the best commercial formula ever invented; i.e Baasha. He doesn’t try to deviate from that formula even for one second. For Baahubali many thought he might have given up on that, but he once again chooses to prolong his simple story into two films so that he can show off, his power of imagination. He takes inspiration from movies like Pathalabhairavi & Mayabazar. (In a movie like Pathalabhairavi, you see a protagonist who is obedient yet highly intelligent and the comic relief is provided by Relangi. Similar role was done by Relangi in Mayabazaar as Lakshamana Kumara and then in Narthanasala as Utthara Kumara. Now if you remember these movies, you know how Subbaraju character came into existence. How whole Kunthala love track has been taken from Pathalabhairavi. And Mayabazaar references doesn’t end at Relangi but carefully observe the title card sequence. Then in Duryodhana and Shakuni from the movie you see Bhalla and Bijjaladeva. The shot in the climax when Bijjaladeva talks to Kattapa, a definite ode to Satya peeta and Star Wars – Empire strikes back. Also Krishna’s brother Balarama holds all the power but he is gullible as hell, even Sivagami after a point knowingly or unknowingly with a ego strikken mind falls gullible. Then if you observe the first 30 mins of Kattappa in the film, you can remember Bheeshma from original epic and also, Gatochkacha from filmy classic, Mayabazaar.) He even recreates the same theme that worked for Chatrapathi, Vikramarkudu and Simhadri. It’s highly unlikely to accept such an rehash of ideas from an “International Director“. Hopefully Rajamouli finds excitement in telling a complete new story at-least after this. I would like to conclude by saying visual effects and grand imagination of Rajamouli does let you watch the movie atleast once.
Note: I would not like to rate this movie as I find it too simple for a duology and I have already rated the movie. If you understand what I mean.
Baahubali: The Beginning Review: Link