Friday, April 28, 2017

review: BAHUBALI 2



3 gigantic stars

Mini Review:

As in all fairy tales, the prince goes out traveling with trusted bodyguard, and falls in love with princess. Prabhas, young Bahubali is to be crowned king, is traveling with Katappa, falling in love with Devsena. Meanwhile the conniving cousin Bhallaladeva gets his own way and becomes king. The all powerful Sivagami devi is an easy prey to the her son’s machinations. How Bahubali wins it all back is this epic tale of gigantic muscles, gigantic palaces, super action, and never-ending romance. And yes, why Katappa kills Bahubali, the secret is revealed.

Main Review:

Our Mahabharata, Their LOTR

Indian cinema often falls for the lure of the epic Mahabharata to tell stories, and although it has twists and turns that are better than Lord Of The Rings, its religious connotation gets in the way of story-telling and it remains confined to television. The garish sets, the tin swords and the cardboard crowns (gold paper covered) have given way to better costumes over the years, but the bad guys (from Duryodhana to Dusshasana to Asuras of various names) still laugh loudly with their arms akimbo and twirl their moustaches and then shout their dialog. If you watched TV and saw Raavan laugh in the several versions of the Ramayana, you'd wonder why his endorphins haven't kicked in with so much laughing...

Bahubali challenged that notion and stepped happily into Fantasy territory and surpassed every expectation. Bahubali 2 does one better. Not only does it keep the story alive, but does it brilliantly.

It has the crown and the jewels and the Amar Chitra Katha style palaces, but thankfully no expense seemed to have been spared in creating those palaces. No longer do the palaces feel like a high school play set, nor do the soldiers seem to carry cardboard swords. The armies look substantial and their armour too. When boulders fall, they don’t look like painted over papier mache. The fabulous special effects make it look real.

Why Do Our Superheroes Need Romance?

That said, let us look at the story. You last watched Bahubali (Prabhas) who grew up among the tribal people, carry the gigantic Shivlinga over his shoulders, rescue his people and his mum from Bhallaladeva and win all hearts. He romances and romances and romances the warrior princess until you want to remind him that he needs to avenge his father the legendary Bahubali who was betrayed by Bhallaladeva.

But even if you missed the original film, this film, Bahubali 2, satisfies your thirst for fantasy, blood and gore and romance. The audience is in for a longish (167 minutes) epic story that spans more than twenty five years.

Prabhas is magnificent as Bahubali, and the director knows how to earn whistles from the audience. Right from the ‘Hero’s Entry’ to earning ‘Glory as Hero’ to using his power wisely as heroes must, the director manages to check each box. Prabhas climbing on the elephant’s back (and you have seen mahouts and his young kids do the same if you have visited Thailand, Sri Lanka or even Kerala) is a sight worthy of claps and whistles of approval. Right then you know that this film is going to be awesome. The camera angles get his stature right as well!

The romance between Devsena and Bahubali does go on for long and you wish they’d get on with it, because you want to see bloody confrontation between cousins. The song on the swan boat is more like 'praise to the mighty, powerful, well muscled, bright and sharp Bahubali for finding the prettiest woman ever, who has eyes like this and body parts like that and who is more beautiful that the planets'... Suddenly 'Ishq Wala Love' sounds easier on the ears. You have already watched helplessly at least 12 wild pigs being brought down during a hunt (we would have been happy with one, trust me!)

Thankfully she gets pregnant rather quickly and hugely pregnant too. We are spared of more soppy 'How gloriously she walks with Mahishmati's brilliant future in her uterus...' type songs...

Why can we not write short bits of romance like Iron Man/Miss Potts, Arwen/Aragorn in LOTR? We overdo everything. So when Bahubli and Devsena kiss, you just hope they run into a storm in the sky...

Thankfully We Have Villains With Big Muscles, Scary War Machines, and Big Muscles...

The gorgeous Rana Daggubati plays the villain so beautifully, you forget his ‘good cop’, ‘hero’ roles. It is because Bhallaladeva is so wicked and powerful, that when Bahubali wages an epic battle do we begin cheering for Bahubali.

Bahubali and Katappa are shown traveling the countryside before Bahubali is crowned, and the funny sequence remains funny. Thankfully it is not Brahmanandan style comedy, and it stays true to the story. Very well done, indeed.

Already said Bahubali earns Devasena’s love and you begin to wish there were a break, preferably Game Of Throne style. The break does come and we are glad to see the epic battle between the Pindari bandits and the locals of Kuntal, of course Bahubali comes to the rescue and how! The choreography of the battle makes you want to go, ‘Hmmm!’

Thankfully the romance ends and the machinations for the throne begin. You want to set Nasty Nasser’s moustache on fire. He performs so well. The conniving father and son duo manage to get Bahubali out of the palace and favor from the mighty Sivagami.

You do gag at how much of a goody two shoes this Bahubali is, and long for something awful to happen that would trigger a revenge. Then baby Orcs show up as if they had lost their way from Lord Of The Rings! (The same ugly dudes were in the first film, I believe). When Bahubali is fighting them in his own inimitable ways, more bad things happen and even worse things happen and then Bahubali shows up to fight the final epic battle which the good must win, of course.

I shan’t tell you any more, but suffice it to say that there are helpful coconut trees, slow motion hits on Bahubali’s biceps that will make you wince in pain, there is a sexy whiteness to Bhallaladeva’s beard. Katappa’s beard also turns from black to white, details are taken care of -  like the number of earrings in Katappa’s ears, although there is one female extra (a villager) who does not age at all with the story.

The slow motion capture of scenes is exactly what you will see in great graphic novels. You will gasp and sigh and clap (even when you are watching the movie in an uptown multiplex). Watch it on the biggest screen near you. The joy of watching an epic fantasy film will be complete.


This film like all films that tell of a 'hero' has Kailash Kher or Daler Mehendi or their clone caterwauling away about the feats of Bahubali. I did like the refrain, 'Kaisa? Rudra sa!' but all other bits were as generic as Arijit Singh's love songs. The promise of more action from AA Rajamouli is great, but one wishes the next fantasy fiction will not have the 'inspiring' songs. I'll take cracking bones and the sound of clanging swords any day!


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