Baahubali is Graphic Novel With Chutzpah
Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Ramya Krishna, Anushka, Tamannah, Satyaraj
Director: SS Rajamouli
Baahubali is an entertainer in a class of its own. It is a grand spectacle that is riveting and at the same time engrossing. Two years in the making and the effort shows as the titles give way to a slow-paced build up. The beginning is a bit of a drag and a luxuriant indulgence. But once the story is a-go, then it is an edge-of-the-seat entertainment, as well as an emotional roller-coaster.
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A map. A kingdom. A cave. A heavily bejeweled woman with a small baby who crosses a waterfall with a wish that the baby stay alive. The baby is taken care of by a couple without children and grows up to become Shiva aka Baahubali (Prabhas).
But who is Baahubali? That is the story Rajamouli has crafted with sheer brilliant narrative.
The take off looks like an Amar Chitra Katha story come alive. Like a graphic novel has been transformed into a movie. But once the scene-setting is over (takes about 20 minutes) then the drama is frenetic. Though the movie appears like a medieval war drama, it has its dash of romance and tender moments as Avantika (Tamannah) turns into a siren and charms her way into Prabhas' heart.
Both have a secret. While Tamannah knows the secret, Prabhas doesn't. Prabhas crosses the water kingdom to reach a land of snowfall and tropical forest (with CGI kuch bhi ho sakta hai!). And comes face to face with a king and a kingdom that is rotten to the core (remember Denmark?). But the Kingdom has a slave who can protect it at all costs and does it with valour. In the middle of the kingdom is the evil lord Bhallaladeva (Rana) with specks of grey in his hair and beard, who doesn't think twice before fighting a massive beast and slaying it or erasing people as if they were just ants. The people yearn for the mysterious Baahubali. Then one day, when a 100-feet gold statue is set to be raised in the kingdom by thousands of slaves, some slaves fall down and one man puts his biceps and shoulders to work and saves the slaves. A chant goes up Baahubali, Baahubali, and the plot gets a new twist. And a flashback begins with an epic war. How the war ends and how Anushka fits into the plot has been saved by Rajamouli for another day.
The characterization is a testosterone driven romp with both Prabhas and Rana, and everyone else, flexing muscles. The storyline is dense with meaning and taut in an attention-grabbing way. Would you compare the movie to some Hollywood movie? Perhaps no. The
CGI despite the effort is caricaturish and amateurish in a physics-defying way. And it doesn't help that whenever beasts come on
the screen, they have a subscript of CGI written in the frame. Completely unnecessary and distracting.