Baahubali – The Beginning is touted to be the most expensive movie made in India, an epic film more than two years in the making, the expectations are high, and above all, it’s a Rajamouli film. The result? A half-baked biscuit!
Rajamouli is 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 in 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. First, the macho protagonist character is established, followed by a show-off of muscles and strength. There is a damsel in distress for whom he falls head over heels, comes to her rescue, and finally, there is an intertwined flashback ending 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 picturised 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 it’s a two-part film, but even then, the movie is patchy with no flow. The direction, too, isn’t up to the mark, for the characters seemed to lack emotions and are too loud at times (it 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 hard to do justice to 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 does well. The rest of the cast is alright.
Music by Keeravani is average, with almost all songs forcefully inserted into the movie. The background score and sound mixing are perfect. 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 excellent. 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 filmmaking processes and techniques. But it doesn’t 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