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Baahubali - The beginning

Director: S S Rajamouli

I have said it in the past, I am saying it now, and from how he goes about his career, I think I will be saying it again in the future as well – what audacity does SS Rajamouli have! It takes a master with raw passion towards the material to create ingenuous piece of art with such banal stories. Yes, you read it right – banal; for that is what Baahubali’s story too is if you go by Rajamouli’s stories – stories that have been told since our puranas came into existence. What then transforms this material into something extraordinary is the conviction with which it is narrated. People who have seen the film Kadhalika Neramilla’s horror story narration scene (or its counterpart in telugu/hindi) will agree with me that the way Nagesh/Mehmoob narrated the simple scene created the chill & humour and not the dialogues itself.

Of all the praises I want to shower over Baahubali, the most deserving one is the laid back approach in the narration. The story essentially being about larger than life people and events, the audience or rather I needed the gestation time to get soaked in the laws of the world Rajamouli has created. He seems to have realized the same too and have given enough commas and dashes so that when the exclamation mark comes up it stands as tall as Everest. Take the re-interpretation of the famous ‘mera Karan Arjun ayenge’ arc in this film. While Rakesh Roshan in Karan Arjun had the emotions welled up for us in front of the screen through direct cause and effect formula, Rajamouli takes an outwardly look of the sentiment with little more restraint causing ripples that magnify into a big 125feet tsunami. It is one of the best executed arc I have witnessed in recent times that has both the visual and emotional grandeur – all within the superstar formula that is unique to Indian films. It is an arc that makes me feel proud of our masala film’s intentions and pump the chest and say to the outside world – you can’t make this even with $300 million at hand.

Yet the movie isn’t about that arc alone. It is in the details or rather the journey that Shivudu takes; strike that as well; it is in the manner in which Shivudu makes his journey from the downhill of the waterfall to the battleground of Mahismati’s empire that makes the movie an epic. Take for example the mountain climbing scene in the very beginning of the film, Rajamouli could have easily gone the Krish way with that village portion – and it would have worked for the average audience who care for the main plot alone – but he doesn’t. He creates an arc worthy of a movie for that mountaineering event and without overdoing its heaviness gives it a Mougli/Jungle Bookish treatment which sets up the tone for the film – the raw power of will.

Yes, power of will is the underlying trait of all the characters in the film. It is a world where everyone has the raw power to achieve whatever they strive for once they set their minds on it. But after seeing tons of inhuman acts achieved with √©lan, somewhere down the line I personally felt, what if these super-humans who so irrationally trust their will to achieve fail? What if the arrow they point at their target goes elsewhere? But that isn’t the story Rajamouli wanted to say.  His is a world of super-humans where their biggest enemy is their evil thoughts. His is a story celebrating the God-like power of humans who could move heaven and earth for the tears of their mothers.

Yet, these spectacles alone aren’t the movie. It is also about the street-smartness of the leads – right from how Sivagami handles her enemies to how Baahubali overshadows his cousin Ballaladeva in the race to the throne. But when I say street-smartness it isn’t as on-your-face as a K V Anand street-smartness where the hero/antagonist pumps the air and proclaims look how smart I am. Here the characters are by nature very smart. They read the situation and see the best possible solution by thinking outside the box. The magnitude comes into the play only when the elephant realizes the banana had a needle all along.

That however doesn’t coverup for the poor characterization of the guerilla warfare leader & tribal king. Yes, the king is just a prop for both the prince to show their acumen in war and for Rajamouli to enthrall us in a whistle-worthy war sequence, but it all feels weak if you see it from the neutral point of view. Same goes for the songs. Agreed, Keravani has lifted the movie through his background score but his songs are tiring – especially the duet where Rajamouli getting back to his pervert ways.

But the climax, oh the climax, I repeat it again – what audacity Rajamouli has to put a climax like that!! It is a middle finger to the audience telling them – this is my film, I will end it my way; you just sit in your seat till 2016 for the conclusion.

PS: a big thanks to the telugu crowd in chennai for creating the perfect ambiance to watch a film like this. Truly rewarding experience.


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