What’s not to like in a movie that glides into the realm of kings, dynasties, royal intrigues, battles and treats you to some breathtaking scenes brilliantly executed on a gigantic scale and leaves you asking for more?
SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Beginning narrates its story in great style with the right amount of glamour, drama, romance and more. Although the movie moves into outright videogame mode with some visual clutter that at times makes the CG work too obvious – especially in the war sequences – it gets it right on most other counts.
It all begins with a dynamic scene where Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan), the Rajmata of the Mahishmathi empire, finds herself in the clutches of the enemy. But she manages to narrowly escape by jumping into a flowing river with an infant and holding him up until he is rescued. The child, Sivayya (Prabhas), grows up in a tribal hamlet at the feet of a lovely waterfall. He is eternally curious about what lies on the other side of the waterfall and finally manages to sneak into a hamlet on the other side to meet Avantika (Tamannah) with whom he falls in love. Avantika, however, has a mission to complete before she settles down with Siva. He promises to fulfill her mission and as part of it, he has to rescue queen Devasena (Anushka), who has been in captivity for the last 25 years in the fortress of the evil Ballabhdeva (Rana Daggubati), the king of Mahishmathi empire. When everyone in the kingdom catches a glimpse of Sivayya and his heroism, they know that their king Mahendra Bahubali has returned, but of course the rustic Siva has no clue about his regal roots.
An engaging tale with a rousing flashback treats to you a gripping backstory where two princes Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas again) and Ballabhdeva have to save the empire from an evil invader. Whoever helps win the battle gets the empire. How does Ballabhdeva get the throne even if Baahubali strategizes the win? And who is Devasena and why is she in the prison? That’s where Baahubali: The Beginning ends.
It’s good that director SS Rajamouli has prepared us well for this film by harping from day one that is a two-part movie. So even if the ‘climax’ leaves you a little high and dry with a ‘Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Mere Dost’ kind of feeling, you know there’s much more to come in the second part.
Prabhas’ wait for the last three years seems vindicated as he walks away with a role of a lifetime. He looks handsome, every inch a charming prince and a hardcore ‘veer putra’. But he has been deliberately underplayed, perhaps in a bid to expose his best in the second instalment. Rana Daggubati gets a meaty role to bite into and makes the most of it. A strong villain who matches up to the protagonist is always a good bet and Daggubati does exactly that. Nazar (reminds you of Shakuni in Mahabharata) and Satyaraj are stupendous in their roles.
I personally love Rajamouli’s women in his movies. They are strong, silent, sane and more importantly, the decision makers. Ramya Krishnan as the royal queen, who keeps the larger interests of the empire in mind instead of blind love for her son, gets a strong role and she plays it in style. Tamannah stops playing the damsel in distress for a change and gets into girl power mode to kick some serious ass. However, her character softens up soon to give way to her touchy-feely romance with Siva. Anushka’s character shows true grit as she finds her own ways to kill her enemies.
Senthil Kumar’s stunning cinematography lifts the film several notches. The snow avalanche scene and waterfall jump scenes are absolutely breathtaking. However, those like the raging bull and some war scenes look patchy and remind you of a Disney animated movie. Peter Heins’ stunts are good, but nothing we haven’t seen before. While the music by Keeravani is melodious enough, there is no foot-tapping number and that could be a big dampener for most hardcore Telugu audiences. His background score disappoints in some key sequences though.
Overall, Baahubali is spectacular yet clean cinema, the kind you can take even your seven-year-old niece/cousin to and come back feeling she had a good time! What’s more it now has you eagerly waiting for the next part.
Telugu, Fantasy, Action, Drama, Color