Baahubali movie review

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“Killing 100 people can make you a warrior, saving one person’s life makes you a god”

Thus says Ramya Krishna towards the end of the movie. During the promotional tour, everyone went gaga over her and her performance in the movie. One wondered if it was a hogwash or were they speaking the truth? We know it now. They were indeed speaking the truth. Of all the stars in the movie, it’s Ramya Krishna that shines the best. Be it quelling the rebellion, showing equal love to children or the way she sits while deciding/strategising, she looks every bit the epitome of justice that her role was promoted as.

She appears in the first scene in the movie and is there towards the end as well. Going by  what her character says in the first scene, she seems to have an equally important character in the second part of the movie as well.

There are humongous expectations on Baahubali. Touted as the biggest movie made in India, there is a huge pressure on the movie to earn back what was spent on it. One thing that no one can fault the team is for their preparedness. When you are shooting for long stretches of time, there are problems of continuity. This movie doesn’t suffer from it. A lot (or rather, entire) of credit must go to the second line director for that. S.S Karthikeya, the son of Rama Rajamouli and SS Rajamouli is the second line director for this movie. You appreciate it when you see the smaller things in the movie – the soldiers looting gold of the denizens in the kingdom, the costumes on the lead characters etc. If you had to pick faults, probably the only thing would be how Nasar’s hand looked in one of the sequences, but then they had it draped for the rest of the movie.

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A few months ago, there was an interview of Jagapathi Babu that I was watching in which he lamented the fact that he wasn’t considered for Posani Krishna Murali’s role in Temper. He said that had he acted, it would’ve lent more credence to Jr.NTR’s role.

Whenever you see Rajamouli’s interviews on a movie, he is at pains to explain the fact that he writes the script first and chooses the actors later. Going by what Jagapathi Babu and Rajamouli say, casting is very, very important for a movie.

Sathyaraj, in the role that he has, from the beginning to the denouement in the movie, appears a perfect fit for his role. One just has to marvel at his ability in playing around with the sword. He does a brilliant job of it. The scenes where he confronts Prabhas are among the best scenes in the movie.

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Tammanah was a late inclusion in the movie. Looking at her role for a time, you might wonder if her role was also a late inclusion in the movie. It’s her role that keeps the slow first half moving. The first half has some sequences that has you literally waiting for the sequences that the movie has been hyped for –  the war sequences.

The song ‘Pachcha bottesina’ has K Raghavendra Rao written all over it. It won’t be a surprise if in director’s cut we are told that he was the one who conceptualised and picturised it. The song also takes us back in time when bushes and scrubs covered the essentials.

Whether or not Tammanah has a lot to contribute in the second part, she has done her bit in enhancing the glamour bit for the movie as Anushka appears in a deglamourised role in this movie.

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When ‘Nenu, naa Rakshasi’ released, it was unanimously thrashed. It will always be discussed when the topic of worst of Puri Jagannadh is broached. It was the worst that a protagonist in a Puri Jagannadh looked and behaved. To go from that disaster to various other roles and then to the antagonist’s role in Baahubali takes some belief. Rana seems to have it in bagful. He looks the part when he has to be menacing towards Anushka’s Devasena or be scared of return of Prabhas’ Baahubali.

His dialogue modulation in the movie is top notch. Though he gets overshadowed in the second half, look for the scene before the interval where he performs incredibly well. Him, Ramya Krishna, Anushka seem like they have brilliant roles in the second part of the movie.

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Anushka has literally ‘next to nothing’ in terms of contribution to this movie. There are a couple of scenes in which she figures. Her scene with Sathyaraj is a good one . She better have a lengthier role in the second part of the movie

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Playing a titular role is not easy. It is shown in the way Prabhas performs in the movie. In the first half, the way he talks and behaves, it looks as if he is suffering from a hangover of Bujjigadu and Ek Niranjan. As the movie and the proceedings get revved up, so does his acting and the screen presence. From the time he promises Tammanah’s Avantika that he would complete the task she is assigned, Prabhas’ role undergoes a metamorphosis for the better.

It is difficult to find a better sight than Prabhas running in Mahismathi kingdom in the movie. He has a regal look in the movie and carries it very well. The speech he makes to the troops in the battle sequence must be his best sequence in the movie.

For a director wanting to make an action movie, Prabhas is a dream. He came off unaffected from the disaster that ‘Rebel’ was. The action sequences in any movie, particularly Rebel, looked more believable because of Prabhas. He has that sort of screen presence

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MM Keeravani provides brilliant background score for the movie and the rest of the family performs what is expected of them.

It is surprising to see Rajamouli waste Sesh Adivi so spectacularly. It will remain as one of the weaknesses of the movie for me that a few good actors were wasted.

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When people are going to talk about Baahubali and SS Rajamouli, you would see some nitpicking on writing or lack thereof. It is not a new phenomena. From Yamadonga on, we have seen SS Rajamouli wean away gradually from story telling to concentrate on the grandeur and visual effects in the movie. While it is not a slight on his abilities as a director, one would want to see what Rajamouli can do with a good story in hand.

His visualisation is what makes him the man that he is. It is easy to say that special effects make the movie what it is, but then to feel that a specific special effect can make a certain difference to a scene requires a visualisation that only few can manage. Rajamouli counts among those few. The entire second half, the way Mahismathi kingdom is shown or the way avalanche is shown are indicators to the brilliant visualisation skills of Rajamouli.

In an interview, Rajamouli himself admitted that he depends less on dialogues and more on visuals. He sets the record straight with the very first scene in the movie. Instead of trying to narrate about the various places, he shows it to us on a map.

It looks like Rajamouli has a certain fascination towards Maori culture. The language that Kalakeya’s tribe speaks seems so similar to Maori and other Polynesian dialects.

On a different note, it was brilliant to see him pay tribute to some of the luminaries who passed away recently. It was done before titles started rolling. Brilliant gesture indeed

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There will be people gloating that we have managed to reach the levels of Hollywood with this movie. Let yourself not be deceived by that. If you have seen the action sequence in Mad Max: Fury road before the intermission, that’s the level that Hollywood can reach to.

Given the budgetary precincts in India, it has to said that Rajamouli has done a brilliant job of showcasing the Indian film industry to the world.

If one remembers, the unit had flown to Bulgaria to shoot a few sequences. Nowhere was it apparent that it was shot abroad.

While returning from the single screen I saw the movie in, TV9 was interviewing a few people. I heard a person say ‘Super hit, 100 days’. It brought a chuckle to my face as the widespread release of the movie would easily prevent that. We will save that discussion for a rainy day.

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Verdict : A movie with a slow first half. The second half bursts into prominence with the superbly shot war sequences. It also sets the viewer up for what should be a very good and better second part

Image courtesy : idlebrain.com

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