Synopsis – When Shiva, the son of Bahubali, learns about his heritage, he begins to look for answers. His story is juxtaposed with past events that unfolded in the Mahishmati Kingdom.
My Take – Finally the wait is over to receive the answer to the most awaited question is here. The predecessor released back in 2015 was a ‘Pan-Indian Blockbuster’ that raised the standards of technical brilliance of Indian films with stellar war sequences and awe-inspiring art- direction, forcing the better budgeted Bollywood counter- parts to bow in shame. Since the film was immensely successful, it was very natural for the audience to have huge expectations from its sequel and given the history of Indian films, one would think that this one would fall short of it. Thankfully, the well-made sequel is without doubt a better film altogether with a thoroughly convincing and hearty story- line that engages the viewers by inviting them to be a part of the Mahishmati kingdom for its run time of 167 minutes. To make a sequel (technically speaking a prequel) that matches the grandeur and brilliance of the magnum opus of the predecessor might have seemed unrealizable, but not for a master craftsman like S.S.Rajamouli who has come up with a stunning piece of cinema that lives upto the hype in all means and even outshines the original as far as the depth of the story-line and a smooth narrative is concerned. It not only answers the question “Why Kattappa killed Baahubali?”, a question probably 1.4+ billion people have been quizzed about for the past 2 years & had become quite a popular Meme in the last couple of years, but does so in such a masterful way, that you’re just left in tears for something you knew was coming all along. Generally, when the prequel is very successful, it becomes very difficult for the sequel to set new bench marking standards, but with this one, it is entirely different, it has enhanced its own standard, creating new records as far as the box office success is concerned, and also superior in the craft. Filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli might have definitely experienced the stress to make the sequel much better than the prequel and now he can relax after making this magnificent film. This epic is certainly going to be registered in the Indian Cinema’s history for the kind of huge canvas it has used to share the story; the efforts were taken by the cast and crew to make it a visual extravaganza. A must-watch, a sure shot blockbuster, etched in Indian Cinema’s history forever. Originally filmed in Telugu and Tamil, the film has also dubbed & released Hindi, Kannada and Malayalam.
Taking place right after the events of the first film with Kattappa finally revealing Baahubali’s fate, the story told in flashback again follows Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas), who after being announced the future heir to the kingdom of Mahishmathi throne, is commanded by the Queen Mother Sivagami (Ramya Krishna) to tour the entire country to understand the happiness and sorrows of the people and promises him that she would find him a suitable princess before his return. On the road with his trusted companion & guardian Kattappa (Sathyaraj), the two find themselves in a small kingdom where Baahubali falls in love with its well trained & commanding Princess Devasena (Anushka Shetty). Meanwhile back in the kingdom, still in peril upon losing the throne to his younger cousin, the now pronounced Chief Minister Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati) conspires with his father Bijjaladeva (Nasser) to create a rift between his mother Sivagami and Baahubali by also proposing marriage to Devasena. The cruel politics played by the father-son duo leads to a series of misconceptions herby affecting the relationship between Baahubali, Devasena & Sivagami leading to the coronation of Bhallaladeva to the throne & a series of events which leads to death of Baahubali at the hands of Katappa. How Mahendra Bahubali aka Shivu (Prabhas) avenges the deceit faced by his father and mother at the cunning and ruthless hands of Bhallaladeva is what the rest of the story is all about. Director S.S. Rajamouli is well known in Tollywood for his unique and brilliant techniques & countless entertainers in the past, however, he will forever be known as the man behind this historic fantasy epic. The main highlight, explained over the course of the film, is heartbreaking. While the narrative in the first film took time to unfold, here our senses are overloaded right from the get-go. If you’ve seen the 1st film I don’t have to explain much. For those who haven’t, these are fantasy films based in ancient times where men are Gods and grandeur rules. This is a tale that spans generations- love runs deep, vengeance even deeper, a young village lad becomes king, and kings become demons. Besides answering the million dollar question, the story is amazingly well written & manages to keep you at the edge of your seat even with a predictable climax. A large part of the story revolves around the buildup of Amarendra Bahubali and Devsena’s love story and the conspiracy of Bhallaladeva that eventually culminated in Katappa killing Bahubali. While, for some time, especially in Bahubali-Devsena love story build up, you feel the film is a bit of drag but the writers ensured that every part of the film had its significance, realized sooner or later. Besides the main story, the story also threw light on some of the wrongs that went on in the ancient (and for that matter, even today) Indian society through a strong character of Devsena challenging such customs and fighting for equality – with support from Amarendra Bahubali. The love-track between Avantika (Tammanna) and Shivu was a let-down in the first part and the best a thing about the conclusion is that it takes care of leaving aside such avoidable sub plots and tries to concentrate in the inner conflicts and emotions of the lead characters making it a hearty affair for the viewers. When Rajamouli jettisons the crudity of excess melodrama and elects to blend indirect gesture into his habitual power-hitting, the effect is vastly better as in the scene where the gathered soldiers and public thump the ground to show their solidarity with the second-in-command rather than the first. The cascade of its awesome consequences, both physical and symbolic, is a fantastic example of powerful frisson-generating film-making. Director Rajamouli knows his overall audience goes for the bigger effect and he ploughs on with giant steps crushing concerns of delicacy. In a massive court with a full audience, a man is suddenly beheaded. I thought this scene was shamelessly gratuitous rather than being plain bad, but the audience around me thought neither – with gasps of admiration and even some vocalized admirations heard all around.
Heads falling off after being severed, in not just one but multiple instances, has never before been shown directly like this in blockbuster Indian cinema. I’m not praising it, nor am I damning it nor am I fence-sitting. Rather I see it as how much Rajamouli is able to make his audience go along with him for this ride. The scale here is also massive! Some breathtaking visuals like Amarendra leaping into the air and shooting off three arrows in one go, the battlefield’s projection, the Mahishmathi Kingdom itself, the climax, In particular, the coronation scene and war sequences are jaw dropping. The budget isn’t as large as Hollywood films (the comparison would be futile) but for what the makers are working with the result is astounding. Making a seemingly predictable film entertaining for almost 3 hours is a colossal task and S. S. Rajamouli pulled it off in style. The conceptualization of scenes, the graphics and especially the brilliant climax showed the class of Rajamouli. His ability to make every single minute of the film count was exceptional and something that rest of the directors need to learn (especially in Bollywood). His use of introductory credits to provide a quick recap of the story in the form of sculptures was impressive and innovative. The beauty also lies in the fact that you’re very invested in the story. Rajamouli has a tight grip on his screenplay and embellishes each scene with rich detail. Multiple dialogue writers have worked to make sure the story flows in whichever language you prefer. I watched the Hindi version and was thoroughly entertained by crackling lines like, ‘this is my promise, and my promise is the law.’ Sure, the film has some issues of its own, for example, the story-line is not very new if you sit and think about it, and especially the same old family politics we have seen before. There were some problems with the timeline of the film too, as this one wasn’t able to fill-up each and every gap the first film teased earlier & there was not exactly any big twist. But the way director S.S. Rajamouli handle the scenes , it’s like he wants every scene to be shown like never before & those treatments to the scenes converts the average story-line into something special. The musical scores like most Indian films are well integrated and in sync with the screenplay. Like its predecessor, this film also has some star making performances from its leads. The star of the film is without a doubt Prabhas, who with immensely likable screen presence is excellent as both Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali and plays these characters effortlessly and with much ease. Rana Daggubati looks huge on screen and his physical transformation to adapt to Bhallala Deva’s role is absolutely commendable, even his body language expressed his character so well. Both Anushka Shetty and Ramya Krishnan play their roles of headstrong, feisty and powerful women excellently. However, unlike the previous film, Tamannaah Bhatia‘s character is wasted here. In supporting roles, Sathyaraj, Nassar and Subbaraju are awesome. On the whole, ‘Baahubali 2: The Conclusion’ is an epic stunning visual extravaganza that is widely appealing due to its superb production design and awesome performances. The film is a must- watch and a sure shot blockbuster, that will etched in Indian Cinema’s history forever.
Directed – S.S. Rajamouli
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 167 minutes