Many decades ago, a renowned French film critic said “No matter how skilful the painter, his work was always in fee to an inescapable subjectivity.” With that in mind, my subjective review of Bahubali, the Conclusion.
The first part of this movie ended with a question, which I rather not repeat. But the importance of the question is that it is straight out of a marketer’s playbook – to generate curiosity. That was the mother of all teasers, which has held its fort for two years.
The film opens, showing us the painstaking work by the VFX team and immediately, the story starts. First few minutes of the movie shows us the mind of the director and his team, the imagination, the beauty of it and the ability to transfer the thought and dream into a frame, into continuous frames, nothing overboard nor cartoonish. It is just right. Meadows, hills, rivers, waterfalls and palaces. We can use this in any tourism promo and we will never find out whether this is real or imagined. That is the attention to details, which may go unnoticed but must be acknowledged first. Overdoing this could have been overpowering visuals and underdoing this could have become fake or cartoonish or both. The movie has chosen a line, which to my taste, is near perfect. This is the theme all throughout the film. Where needed, wherever necessary, in just its right dosage.
King or commoner, in the past or the present, in fiction or in real, the Indian man’s dilemma seems perpetual – of an arranged marriage or of natural choice of love. The movie has attempted another version of it and quite beautifully. There is an admiration song cum fight, executed with poise, showing Bahubali’s and Kattapa’s prowess and the former’s admiration, a love at first sight, not just to a woman but to her prowess as well. A warrior prince falls for a warrior princess.
In the subsequent half hour or more, we are made to laugh and laugh well. This is no second class or crass comedy. This is situational. Sathyaraj as an actor fits perfectly with his voice modulation (for people like me who watched in Tamil), makes us laugh naturally, without any effort. Artificial comedy may make our chin hurt, but this doesn’t. Subbaraju as Kumara Varma compliments the story and the performances of others. He stands out playing a coward. When he swings a sword at later stage we will be amazed and wonder if these are two different people playing a single character.
Anushka is just her. A princess in the first half, who is brave, uptight and finally opens up, you can sense three distinct performances. And this distinction reinforces her dominance as a great, not great for lack of any other word, but truly great actress. There is a scene where she walks over shoulders of Bahubali and boards a boat. If you have watched that movie, rerun that scene in your mind, if you haven’t, store that scene when you watch the movie.
What has not been said about Nasser’s acting that can be said here? Cunning, devious and duplicitous – he plays the part of a father who wants to see in his son what he could not be – an emperor.
The story further treads the path beautifully, intertwining characters we had seen in the first part, their bias, their self-interests, what they do to further those interests and ends with the killing of Bahubali and Rajmata Sivagami running away with Bahubali Junior. The flashback ends here, the first part continues and the revenge starts.
Rana the beast is unleashed. I do not know what pain he must have undergone to get that sculpted body. We will never know. But it shows an equal opponent, worthy of our hate, worthy of Bahubali’s anger, worthy of a master warrior and worthy of our admiration. When he flexes his muscle, when he taunts Anushka, Rana swings from a beast to a perverse villain so easily. Even in his fall, he goes high.
Where there is a beast, you need a beast slayer. Whether it’s a curious Shivu or a loving Shivu or an innocent Bahubali or a brave warrior, or a son seeking revenge, Prabhas, by his sheer performance, has become a household name. His dedication of years has shown. He has lived as valiant hero.
All throughout the movie, there is a companion. Music. The grandeur is made possible only because of such a companion. A separate review can be written on Keeravani’s music. Its melodious, little, subtle, grand, loud and heavy. Each where needed and each how it should be.
Kattappa and Sivagami – or how we in South know, Satyaraj and Ramya Krishnan. Director must be credited for giving so much space to these two fine actors. Prabhas and Rana must be credited for ceding such space to these two, who are in a non-traditional way, can also be seen as lead actors. Though this is a story of two competing cousins, it is as much a story of a slave to a kingdom and a doting, righteous mother. The fight duet between Satyaraj and Prabhas, the stare and command of Ramya Krishnan, the magnificence of him, the poise of her, the righteous duo, they have lifted as many pillars in this movie as were brought down by Rana and Prabhas with their kicks and punches.
Rajamouli cannot be thanked enough. Writing a screenplay on such a scale over the years is in itself a Herculean task. And seeing it through as a director is nothing less than scaling the Everest. This movie doesn’t rest on animation or graphics. This movie rests on the director’s ability to think and his ability to extract the work from his team and know where to stop those animations and graphics. VFX exponentially adds to the beauty in the screenplay. The screenplay is such that we become curious about what will happen next. Not for a moment we feel that this is a long movie. On the contrary, we wonder why the movie has ended. We need more of it, even if an hour extended with such a brilliant way to tell a story, we can glue ourselves to the seat. That’s where the director scores.
Etymology of entertainment is “to hold or to keep someone in certain frame of mind.”
This is entertainment at its best.
This grips us, glues to the seat, makes us laugh, admire, love, hate and leaves us in awe.
This is why we goto a movie theatre.
This is entertainment.
This is the magic of cinema!