The advance booking lines stretched for a kilometer and a half. Multiplexes are screening 25-30 shows a day for the rest of the week. Every theatre in RTC X Roads is playing the same movie (does anyone remember this happening before?). Prasads
this morning was more like a temple on a festival morning - people coming in all their finery with families and all of them looking up to the screen like they would a deity to grant them their boons.
Just how does one succeed in the face of such humongous expectations?
Rajamouli must have been aware of all these. Acutely and painfully aware. Which explains why he crammed Baahubali with every cliché possible - from a romantic number ending in a lovemaking scene and an item scorcher in a thieves market to an escape scene in an avalanche and a crowd-pleasing speech that rallies troops to victory, you name it and you have it in Baahubali.
So how does it all pan out? Well, the answers to some questions are best seen in a movie theatre.
Baahubali, widely considered India's biggest motion picture, begins with a few electrifying rabble-rousing scenes - enough for the audiences to scream themselves hoarse before it has all even begun. The film narrates the story of Sivudu (Prabhas with a prominent six-pack), a youth from a tribal settlement who aspires to climb to the top of the waterfall by which his tribe is settled. When he finally scales it, he meets Avantika (Tamannah) and her band of outlaws, all of whom live for the sole aim of bringing Devasena (Anushka) back from her confinement.
Sivudu falls in love with Avantika and vows that he will fulfill her mission and bring her back. This quest leads him to the kingdom of Mahishmati ruled by Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati). What happens in the kingdom of Mahishmathi forms the remaining part of Baahubali - The Beginning, and leaves us with a nice twist to look forward to the second half.
Rajamouli, the director who's yet to taste failure, has crafted Baahubali with utmost care. He strives to make every scene grand - it is almost as if he's conscious that he's making an epic movie. This desire mars the first half, and some tacky visual effects leave us wanting further. It is when the second half begins that the fun starts.
The moment the movie shifts to Mahishmati of yore, Rajamouli's magic begins to work, and the emotion and action begin to flow. The final war sequence, lasting well over a half hour, will leave you spellbound. However, a good part of the rest of the film is a flip side to that. You will, at some point, surely wonder if Rajamouli was so spent after shooting these war sequences that he left the remaining movie to chance. Or maybe he was so confident that the war sequences would see him through that he decided he'd get the benefit of doubt for the rest.
Either way, as we mentioned, Baahubali astounds in some parts but leaves you wanting for a good while. The fact that the film is incomplete, does, too - it gives you the feeling that you walked out in the interval. What is now needed is a solid consummation - a really solid second part. Oh wait, did the expectations on that just increase?
Technically, Baahubali is up there - a real drumroll for everyone involved. A few sequences in the first half may be underwhelming, but it is amazing how several scenes in the second have been visualized and brought to life. Senthil amazes with his cinematography, Keeravani provides a rousing background score (though he could've been better in the songs department) and Peter Hein billows out some awesome action choreography.
Acting-wise, everyone lives in their respective role. Prabhakar as the Kalakeya warlord, Nasser as the handicapped and scheming royal, Ramyakrishna as Rajamaata, Anushka as Devasena, Rana as Bhallala Deva, Prabhas as Sivudu and Baahubali, Satyaraj as Kattappa and Sudeep in his miniscule role - they give their all to this magnum opus. The only false notes come from Adivi Sesh and the item girls, but those are minor grouses.
There is frankly little point in us recommending (or not recommending) Baahubali - you'll watch it anyway. But still, here it is - go watch it. Baahubali gets an A+ for intent and an A- for execution, but it is still an A.