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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Baahubali : The Beginning

S S Rajamouli’s effort to be a household name in parts of the country other than South India received a huge boost through Eega aka Eecha aka Makkhi.  Bahubali : The Beginning will bridge any gap that was left over for certain.  Not only does it claim to be India’s most expensive movie on record at 250 crores ($40 Million or so) – It feels like there has been an effort worth 250 crores put in.

Rajamouli can probably be blamed for execution in comparison to his counterparts a couple of oceans away to the west, but he cannot be blamed for lack of creativity. Rajamouli has created a fascinating fictional epic of the nation called Mahishmati.  He defines each aspect of the geography before moving towards even creating a new language for the movie called Kilikili (take that Tolkien and Star Trek!!!).

The movie begins with a woman – who will later be identified as the Great Queen Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) – who is running for her life with an infant child.  While she loses her life in the bargain, she ensures the child stays alive in dramatic fashion.  The child is found by the local villagers who then bring him up as Sivu (Prabhas).

Much to his mother’s chagrin, Sivu’s relationship with the local waterfall (Mahishmati is on the other side, over the waterfall) is a combination of curiosity and fascination.  After several attempts, he finally finds inspiration (like most men do) in a woman – an apparition.  Needless to say, love follows.  The good part is that of a back story leading to the revelation that our Shivu is actually the rightful heir of Mahishmati i.e. Bahubali!!!

Rajamouli gets most of the CGI right but what exasperates you is that a great effort on one frame is followed by a less than mediocre effort in the immediately succeeding one. One can attribute that to the just $40 million that he had at his disposal because even below par movies from Hollywood, such as Pompeii (2014) are made at a minimum of twice the budget that Rajamouli had.

There are enough high points such as the war with Kalkeya, Shivu single handedly lifting up the Shiva Lingam or if you are the more romantic kind, chasing Avantika (Tamannah) up an unscalable waterfall.  The performances are not too bad in themselves but I thought Ramya Kirshnan has delivered her best to date.  Prabhas is solid as the lead and so is Rana as the villain.  Tamannah could do with some toning down though.

Make no mistakes – Bahubali is a defining moment in Indian cinema.  It may not be brilliant in comparison to products that we are exposed to from Hollywood but it marks a moment in Indian Cinema where a film maker has taken the first step towards quality special effects and an entire movie that depends on CGI.  It can only get better from here.  7 on 10.  Take a bow S S Rajamouli!!!! I for one cannot wait for Bahubali : The Conclusion.

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