Movie Review: Bahubali

Epic is an underrated word, used to describe trivial achievements in today’s day and age. In Hollywood, epic is Ben Hur. In Indian cinema, epic can now officially be called Bahubali.

In its sheer production cost (billed US$ 40 million), this is epic.

In its humungous set design and art work, this is epic

In its direction and execution of action sequences, this is epic.

In its recreating a bygone era of horses and chariots and swords and shields and hand fights, this is epic.

In its special effects, this is epic.

Bahubali is epic in proportion to Ben Hur!

And if Bahubali does not go to the Oscars as India’s entry, then it will be an epic joke!

Let’s raise a toast to Indian cinema, emanating from the south. A toast to director S S Rajamouli, whose last film, Makkhi, cast a spell on his audience where you wanted to do exactly what Makkhi was doing on screen to the villain.

In Bahubali, he weaves a story of princes, of love, jealousy, hatred, anger, murder and revenge. Nothing new; we have seen Ramayana and Mahabharata. But yet, Rajamouli stirs up varied emotions within you as the story unfolds merging smartly from a still image to a moving, visual delight. The Background score and music is another huge plus.

At two hours and 38 minutes, this first of a two-part movie is rather long, but then, Rajamouli makes up for any loss of pace between with his grand display of characterization. He loses a grip on the story, no doubt, as he goes to the past to help Bahubali understand where his roots are. This sequence is a bit long-drawn and hazy and needed the editor to be sharper with the scissors. But the challenge here is to be involved in the film at every moment, lest you miss the narrative.

And for the first time, you leave the theatre in anticipation, as the first part ends with a mention of the rest of the story which will unfold next year.

This multi-lingual film shot in Telugu engages you from the word go. A young child whose mother is being attacked is saved by Divine providence. The villagers who rescue him find him to be different from them. The child is always wanting to scale the huge mountain peak and go to the other side. That is where he came from, but he does not know. After years of failed attempts, he finally manages to scale the peak, where a new world opens up before him.

Prabhas as Bahubali brings alive his character in an innocent manner, with Rajamouli tapping everything pure within this soul. Rana Daggubati as the mean, scheming Bhallala Deva is in a class of his own. Tamannaah Bhatia as Avantika puts in that extra effort in her performance to stand out amongst the huge cast. Her body language deserves special mention. Nassar is always a delight and in the mean shakuni mama kind of role, he tops.

Sathyaraj as Kattappa is both noble and solid. He brings a certain charm to his performance, fully understanding the personality of his character

Ben-Hur was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won an unprecedented 11.

Let’s see how our jury receives this EPIC!

Rating: 5 / 5
Martin D’Souza
This first appeared on on July 10, 2015

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