Starring:- Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Rana Daggubati, Sathyaraj, Ramya Krishnan, Tamannah, Nasser, Subbaraju, Rohini, Pruthviraj Balireddy.
Directed by:- SS Rajamouli
In a country like India, when some movies become commercially superlative, the notion of watching it transforms into a national duty, especially if it is an epic or a mythological adaptation. Bahubali, marketed as the biggest movie made in India, became one of the highest grossing movies of all time in India. I’m not mincing words here – I like Bahubali. It proved to be a great entertainer complete with commercial cliches and had the knowledge to perfectly balance CGI for good storytelling. Sadly, that can’t be said about its successor, the hyped Bahubali 2 – The Conclusion, as it is named in its entirety.
The story continues with the hefty cliffhanger on which Bahubali – The Beginning threw the towel on. Bahubali (Prabhas) is all set to be adjudged as the King of Mahishmati, under the guidance of Queen Mother Sivagami Devi (Krishnan). Bahubali’s scheming cousin Bhallaladeva (Daggubati) and his father Bijjaladeva (Nasser) are busy gnarling their teeth in fury. Prior to the coronation ceremony, Bahubali and Kattappa explore the neighboring kingdoms and find themselves in the Kingdom of Kunthala, complete with the princess being Devasena (Shetty). Drama ensues, changes occur, the house of cards gets blown off, blood is shed, revenge is sworn- that’s Bahubali 2 for you.
My expectations were at an all-time high, considering the feats achieved by the predecessor in the terms of financial profits and paving new ways for Indian cinema to make movies. It were fueled by Bahubali 2’s promos and my countless re-watch sessions of Bahubali 1 to prepare myself for the extravaganza I was going to behold. I feel as if Rajamouli decided to play it safe by strangling the freshness of the story with the added weight of comedy and drama to such an extent that the experience becomes stifling.
I’m not denying the fact that Bahubali is not flawless. It is flawed, all right, but it had the sanity enough to let the story breath by itself, not to attach it to a life support machine to sustain its respiration. The CGI present in Bahubali was invisible to an extent, but in the sequel its presence is not only visible, but it is also too childish to look at. Filmmakers should always remember the fact CGI should be for movies, movies should not be for CGI. Cinema can be saved only if the filmmakers understand the aforementioned fact.
The drama feels like a razor blade being pulled across the wrist of the movie’s story. Even though courtroom dramas are acceptable with respect to the genre, Bahubali 2 strives to regain the dubious stench of drama which is most acceptable and recognizable to Indians due to the reinforcement by the soap operas – skirmishes between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws. I was literally palming my forehead during scenes with similar physicality, faking sadness on the fact that the movie dips to new lows to move the story ahead. This was completely unexpected, especially from the successor of a movie like Bahubali. I’m pretty sure some TV tycoons who built their empires from making such meaningless soap operas wouldn’t have been able to sit straight during these tedious moments.
The action choreography is truly great, greater than Bahubali to an extent. However, this aspect of the movie has the audacity to grace the borders of stupidity, like using “organic” methods to penetrate a fort. Everything was fine until this particular scene set in, which made my family members and some people in the back row laugh out loud. Not that an audience’s reaction is the benchmark for a movie’s greatness, but if your product makes an audience as assiduously cosmopolitan as the people with whom I watched the movie laugh, I am not sure what to make of its so called greatness.
It doesn’t mean everything’s bad. The protagonist’s Herculean mannerisms raises the movie’s stature up a bit, with a particular sequence including the protagonist teaching his love interest to shoot three arrows at the same time to gain the upper hand surely has to be one of the most beautifully choreographed action scene of recent times. After riddling the first half with bouts of romance, action and comedy, Rajamouli finds the perfect footing at the Intermission scene, which produced goosebumps to such an extent, that they were adamant enough to remain till I walked out of the room to stretch my bones. The level of intricacy present in each and every shot in that sequence is top notch, straight down to the acting skills of Rana Dagubbati, the unsung hero of this movie.
The performances are one of the very few saving graces of this movie. Those who didn’t get to flex their acting muscles in the first movie get a lot of room to present their potential, which they do in the most perfect manner possible for a movie with such gargantuan scale and style. Tamannah gets stifled though, pointing towards the quasi-futile existence of her character. Prabhas is great, shining at some spots with flair. Anushka Shetty gave out a better performance in the previous installment, sadly reduced to a love interest and a dramatic bandwagon in Bahubali 2. Sathyaraj too, is transformed into a comic relief, much to the disdain after witnessing his stellar performance in Bahubali 1.
The ones who shine throughout the movie are Dagubbati, Ramya Krishnan and Nasser, each of them commanding over their characters in a manner never seen before. Ramya Krishnan’s eyeballs exemplify terror and power in a much more refined fashion. Nasser is much more viler than ever, him proving the fact that he’s one of the best character actors around. Even through all this, the only big bright shining star I could perceive in this dark commercial tunnel of a movie is Rana Dagubbati. The entire first half, which is guilty enough to drag the movie down to perdition, was commanded by Dagubbati’s excellent performance – an evil fuck of a schemer who can perceive challenges with a godly silence, letting the pieces take their places on the big board, then taking them out with a huge splash. It is a matter of sadness that his epic performance which tops in the interval scene, gets dragged down with the movie in the second half – where the movie saves itself in a grimly manner and leaving Dagubbati down in the pit. His quiet persona takes a turn for the worse, with the mania and aloofness gaining ground in his performance. It can be said that he personifies the movie inversely.
With a quixotic screenplay, a horrible soundtrack and haphazard direction, Bahubali 2 feels like that obese guest in a gargantuan buffet, whose plate is filled with dishes of all kinds to such an extent that his tiny legs give way to a fall, drowning others in the delicious sauces in an obviously uncomfortable manner. It ascertains the fact that overconfidence takes its toll in the biggest form possible, in this case it being Bahubali 2 becoming a pile of mistakes rather than the greatest movie ever made in India.
Pro:- Performances, Screenplay and Choreography.
Con:- Everything else.