The only show in town or rather the only show in India this weekend- S. S. Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘Bahubali the conclusion (part-II)’, for it had hogged almost all shows and all screens at all multiplexes and theaters in the country. And it seemed all of India was streaming to watch the movie on Sunday. Despite the enormous number of screens fixed for the film, the seats were packed to full capacity. And the owners of the multiplex were taking full advantage of the situation, for advertisements after advertisements followed each other prolonging the wait for the audience. When the movie finally started, there were whistles even from the uber cool and ultra sophisticated audience with whom I was watching the movie. Yes, Ashdoc brings you these reviews by watching movies in the best of places and among the best of people.
The movie begins with two onscreen giants (Amarendra Bahubali played by Prabhas and Bhallala Deva played by Rana Daggubati) locked in eternal rivalry over the throne of the magnificent kingdom of Mahishmati. And they soon become rivals for the affection of the princess (Devasena played by Anushka Shetty) of the kingdom of Kuntala too. And like always, it is the nice guys who are at the receiving end of injustice, for Bhallala Deva and his father (Nassar playing Bijjala Deva) hatch a plot to not only remove Amarendra from the seat of power but also finish him off.
Presiding over this mayhem is the queen (Maharani Sivagami played by Ramya Krishnan) and taking part in all this. And not from the sidelines but right in the center of it all is Kattappa (played by Sathyaraj). After all he is the one who kills Bahubali- an unsolved mystery from the last film and a subject of countless jokes on whatsapp; it would not be a exaggeration to say that many people had come to see the film to know why Kattappa killed Bahubali.
But behold the justice of providence, Amarendra Bahubali’s son has been born and saved from the cruel fate planned for him by the villains, looks exactly like his father and has been named as Mahendra Bahubali. He has come to avenge the death of his father and the imprisoning of his mother, and he has come with his future consort (played byTammanah); the battle royale is about to be fought.
The first one hour does drag a bit- some incidents and acting during this period is not too convincing and not too serious. But as the interval approached the audience was bombarded with heart thumping music that aroused the senses- the movie had begun to pick up real momentum at this point.
In the second half, the movie does develop into an engaging story. Again as the climax approached, the movie seemed to stretch a little too long and I was waiting for the final battle to begin. As the final battle ended, once more the bombardment of heart pounding music that electrified the senses. If you want to enjoy it fully, see the movie equipped with Dolby atmos sound as I did.
The final battle however is not as well showcased as the battle between the armies of Mahishmati and the armies of barbarians that was shown in the last part. The battle in the first part was truly equal to Hollywood in standards. This time, the final battle was not so great in scale and not photographed with such exquisite skill.
So does S S Rajamouli’s effort pay off? Yes, in the final analysis it does. For the movie is still far grand than anything that has been filmed in India so far. The grandeur of the vast palaces, the perfection of the weapons used for war, the scale of the monuments in the city, the innovation in filming the individual fight scenes, the size of the animals like elephants and oxen, the richness of the clothes worn by the royals- all speaks of super extravagance. Acting is decent enough, colours of the film are good, songs and background music are hummable and the main characters seem like towering figures on the silver screen. ‘Bahubali’ is truly the pinnacle of extravagant cinematography.
One thing about the movie is it’s unabashed trumpeting of Hindu identity and culture, something that Bollywood has been remarkably squeamish in showing. Statues of Ganesha, Shivling and Krishna regularly adorn the film. The story itself has parallels to ancient Indian epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat, with Bijjala Deva playing the role of Shakuni and Kattappa playing Bhishma like character. The reason for this is that the movie is produced by Tollywood, which is free from the influence of the Karachi based mafia that controls Bollywood. Thankfully at least regional cinema has some pride left in our culture!!
Three and a half stars