Bahubali is Indian cinema at its story-telling best, an epic movie that transcends language, state and other parochial divides that have ruled the industry.
It is undisputed that SS Rajamouli is one of India’s gifted filmmakers. What makes Bahubali even more impactful is that it brings out his capabilities dream big and accomplish projects that can stand in the league of the big studio movies from Hollywood.
Playing in the UAE in its Telugu, Tamil and Hindi versions, Bahubali’s visual power is so extraordinary that you do not have to know any of these languages to understand it.
It does away with all customary story-telling props that you are so used to when Indian filmmakers attempt epics. There is no voice over to tell you that, ‘hey, here are two kingdoms and they are warring’ and all that.
Instead, Rajamouli just follows the dictum that a visual is worth over a thousand words. And what spectacular cinematography and CGIs – never before might Indian cinema have seen such technical perfection in every frame.
The story of Shiva (Telugu superstar Prabhas), who grows up with a tribal community after being found lifted high in the waters by a royal lady (Remya Krishna) even as she drowns to death just about begins in the first edition of Bahubali.
In setting the scene, the film charts how the young man with monkey-like agility and superhuman strength (all powerfully explained with visuals not forcing you to think about logic) reaches Mahishmati, the kingdom to which he is the true heir.
Not aware of his royal blood, Shiva was in fact pursuing the face and smile behind a wooden mask that the waterfalls bring to him. That face happens to be Avantika (Tammanna), a rebel fighting Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati), the ruler of Mahishmati, in a bid to save Devasena (Anushka Shetty). We will later know that Devasena is the mother of Shiva.
In typical epic-narrative mode, Bahubali – The Beginning tells us about the rivalry between power-hungry Bhallala and righteous Bahubali (also Prabhas), both with equal claim to the throne of Mahishmati, which is being ruled by Sivagami (Ramya Krishna) until the two become adults.
A host of characters come into play including Kattappa (Sathyaraj), the Kingdom’s former commander and now a slave loyal to Devasena. He is one who turns narrator in the second half revealing the story of Bahubali and Bhallala, before abruptly ending (as the movie does) with a startling revelation.
Bahubali, to find a fault, could be seen as a tad long. The plotline could appear a bit muddled especially because Rajamouli has reserved a lot for the sequel, including the final obvious face-off between Shiva and Bhallala. Not everything is explained that you might rake your head trying to grasp the film in its entirety. But these are minor distractions you might not even realise while watching the film because it scores in every department.
It has power-packed performances by all (Prabhas, Rana, Tamanna, Anushka and Ramya blowing you over with their intensity, while Tamil actor Sathyaraj gets one of his career best roles and Kannada star Sudeep of Eega making a definite impression in a short role). Adding to the impact is its background score and music by MM Kreem (alias Keeravani) and punchy stunts choreographed by Peter Hein.
But above all, this is a director’s movie. Fantastically stitched together, every frame breathtakingly crafted, Bahubali does Indian cinema proud. Hats off, then, to Rajamouli.
Starring: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Tamanna, Anushka Shetty, Sathyaraj & Ramya Krishna
Directed by SS Rajamouli