It is touted to be the most expensive movie made in India, an epic film more than 2 years in the making, the expectations are high, and above all, it’s a Rajamouli film. The result? A half-baked biscuit!
Rajamouli is definitely one of the best directors in the Telugu industry. He is a visionary, Eega was an example of that. With Baahubali, he tries to go one notch higher. He does it successfully as well in terms if grandeur, but unfortunately not on storytelling or direction.
Baahubali – The Beginning showcases the story of a young lad who discovers his lineage as we progress through the film. It starts off like most others, where the macho protagonist character is established, we then have a show-off of muscles and strength, there is a damsel whom he falls head over heels for, the damsel is in distress, he comes to her rescue, and finally there is an intertwined flashback which ends with an action packed war sequence. Rajamouli ensures that there is everything the audience wants, from muscles and the navel, to the beautifully crafted and picturized war sequence. But unfortunately, while there is creativity and novelty in probably every other sense, there is none in the storyline or storytelling. The screenplay is absolutely mediocre. Yes, I understand that it’s a two-part film, but even then, the movie is extremely patchy with no flow. The direction too isn’t really up to the mark for the characters seemed to lack emotions and are too loud at times (it actually felt like watching a TV serial on a couple of occasions). One expects better from Rajamouli.
Prabhas has put in a lot of effort and tried really hard to do justice to both the characters he plays. While he is pretty good as Baahubali, he looks miserable as Sivudu. His dialogue delivery is also not up to the mark. Rana looks menacing as the antagonist, and comes up with a good performance. Anushka does well in her brief presence, but her make-up could have been better. Tamannaah looks beautiful on-screen, and I wish the same could have been said about her acting. Ramya Krishna is great, but I think the subtlety was amiss. Sathyaraj has a meaty role and he does well. Rest of the cast is alright.
Music by Keeravani is average, with almost all songs forcefully inserted into the movie. Background score and sound mixing however are exceptionally good. While cinematography by Senthil Kumar is spectacular, the colour grading is terrible, and the visuals aren’t consistent on-screen. The graphics too are erratic. Production design and sets are very good. Editing by K V Rao could have been better; though a little over 150 minutes, the film seemed tediously long.
Bottom line, I have to agree that Baahubali is an example that we are making substantial progress in our film making processes and techniques. But what it doesn’t do is showcase our storytelling ability; while we’ve aimed to go global, our mindset still wants to cater to the mass audience. How will the mass audience scale up and appreciate good cinema if we don’t let them? It’s disheartening to see a director who took this path falling back and taking the easy road.
Is it worth your time and money?: Yes, it is worth a watch, not for the storyline or the storytelling but for the grandeur. It is a bold attempt in Telugu cinema; I only wish it had more to offer in terms of story and direction rather than being old wine in a new shiny bottle.
If only the efforts were channelled in the right direction, Baahubali would have truly been epic.
Worth mention: The visuals and production values.
Technical Aspects: 8/10