Baahubali The Beginning–The Review

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bahubali3

Once upon a time, there lived a lad.

Looking up at the mountain of water towards the misty horizon, he felt inside an indomitable mysterious force, calling him upwards and over. So he enrolled in Physics and Maths coaching classes in Class eight, to get an early start, then Ramaiyya classes at five in the morning to get an even earlier start and correspondence courses to get problem-sets he could crack while on the loo. He would try, one problem after another in Irodov, and then the sequence of solved problems would be broken and he would come tumbling down back to Exercise one. It would have broken lesser men, that fall, but he merely smiled, dusted away his failure, and went back to Newton’s Laws.

His mother (or the one he knew to be his) asked the Gods what they were doing wrong, because the neighbor hood kids were doing just fine. It had become an obsession, this wanting to scale the wall of water, and his muscles grew, till he was moving smoothly through Khanna and Khanna, but still the mountain stood, untamed and proud, and our boy toiled away.

Till one day, in his hand, fell a torn picture.

It had fluttered in from somewhere up the mountain of the water, washed away and grainy, but distinguishable only as a female face.  Our lad would keep the face on a piece of paper, and then lovingly, with his protractor and compass draw boobs around it, of different diameters, for he know not the dimensions of this lovely lass. There was no female in his life, and together with the need to scale the wall of water, attaining the girl in the picture became the focus of his life.

Till one day, while scaling the wall of water, he saw her.

Water-droplets cascading down her perfect spine, there she was, looking at him with come-hither eyes, in a bikini that revealed beauties grander than he could have imagined. In the throes of great passion, he danced up the wall of water, swallowing semesters in epic gravity-defying leaps, while she flitted ahead, through his books, and exam papers, and his programming assignments, turning her head ever so a little, as blue butterflies flew around, or neelachalachitram as he called them,  till one day he did it, he scaled the wall.

And found himself in the United States of America. But where was that bikini-clad goddess of beauty who had inspired him? She was not there.

So our lad goes searched for her, and lo and behold there she was. A confident team leader who commanded the respect of her engineers, whose only problem in our lad’s eyes was the perennial frown on her face, and her frumpy “old maid” get-up, the stitches on her dress resembling more the seams of a Kookaburra ball then the bikini he had seen in his fantasies of her wearing. To express his love, he hid away in the shadows, lurking through her facebook pictures, sending her anonymous messages of passion, one which almost leads her to lose her job. Enraged, she came out to hunt this stalker, and boom, they met. When their meeting was finished, he had revealed her inner beauty, literally, by forcibly taking off her clothes, revealing the bikini-clad beauty he had seen in his dreams. Our lad then told our heroine, “This is what you really are, why hide it”, and immediately she realized the truth, that the hollow feeling in her heart was because she hasnt been objectified so far, despite having that killer bod, of the kind that makes men vault up the Viagra Falls. So she fluttered her eyelids, ran into the manly chest of our lad (He does “Body for Life” program, and secretly Zumba), quit her job immediately, gave it to our hero, and is now found making puliyodharai and going to Patel Brothers at 3 on Sundays, again in that frumpy old-maid look of old, her inner beauty now hidden from the eyes of the zaalim world for a different reason.

Bring out the pitchforks dear readers, and the catapults for good measure, because I did not like everyone’s favorite, the record-breaking, 400-crore-and-counting, epic Baahubali. And trust me, I wanted to, in the same way Aamir Khan wanted to like Bajrangi Bhaijaan when he methodically carried a towel to the screening, because I wanted a non-Hindi pan-India blockbuster to break the moronic monopoly of  100-crore collage of Khan or Roshan scenes, if only to disrupt the sequence of engineered hits, that have taken so much of the fun out of the Bollywood I had grown up loving.

And yet S.S. Rajamouli’s world left me cold, a world of 80s-type machismo and chauvinism and traditional gender-roles, which would make Kanti Shah look like Gloria Steinheim, of black-face painted  Uruk-Hai-like “Jhingalila Jhing” bad-men with terrible dental hygiene, “Mere bete Karan Arjun Aayenge” Rakhi-clones, a lot of bull (literally), plenty of rock-hard pecs, and even more navels, a world of mega-uber-superheroes and mega-uber-supervilliains, whose every green drop of snot becomes a Hulk, who heal faster than Wolverine, who pick their teeth with adamantium, for whom Superman is what Laxmi Ratan Sukla is to AB De Villiers. Its a world I would have loved to get my teeth into, to get caught up in, but then there was nothing fresh, not even an innovative riff on an old trope, or a twist, or a character that showed some dimension, that I could really point to and say “Yes that was awesome”.

What about the CGI you ask? What about it, I ask in return? First of all, pixel tricks in itself cannot be the be-all and end-all of any film, if it was then the Transformers series would be classics (they made a shitload of money internationally, so it’s not that they are not successful). And here is where I think I will make my most controversial assertion—I did not find the CGI jaw-dropping in the least. But you say, “This is much better than we see in Hindi films”. I agree.  If you take as a baseline, the CGI parrot Raja Tota of “Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon”, yes it’s all very impressive, but our comparison-point, in today’s world, should be the best. And in comparison to an Avengers or even the Game of Thrones, a TV show, Bahubali suffers, particularly in the sweeping external shots of the imperial city and the blue butterflies and the green snake, where the CGI looks CGI, breaking the immersion, unlike Khaleesi’s dragons in Game of Thrones (done by an Indian firm) which, for the most part, appear “real”. The CGI works better during the battle scenes, and that’s more because of the thumping music and the battlescene choreography, but even there when a sequence from 300 is being lifted, it pales in front of the visual palette rendered in the original. And given that I saw “Mad Max Fury Road” a few months ago, my standards of “knock your socks off” in terms of a visual spectacle have also risen, and I am not willing to accommodate the clause ‘for an Indian film’ in my lexicon, because there is nothing more patronizing than the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Which brings me back to the original point.  My inability to engage with the story, the characters,  and the conflict, in short, the good old things that made films epic, rather than monster VFX budgets.

Overall verdict: underwhelmed.

 

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46 thoughts on “Baahubali The Beginning–The Review

  1. oh no, no, no….this cannot be YOUR review!
    I for one think there was not ONE false note in Rajmouli’s symphony. The hero exactly how he should be, the heroine exactly what she should be and mother and so forth. I even liked the “item numbers” in this movie which typically I dislike tremendously.
    I think you were not in good frame of mind when you watched it. 🙂

    • I think the problem was you tried to imagine yourself as Bahubali and this hero-identification- projection of self as protagonist, led to some confusion and dislike for movie. Next time go watch it with more detachment 😉
      Enjoy the BGM, the drama, the strong women characters, the “slave” who can do some real good fight. This was one “masala” that I have enjoyed tremendously in a long-long-long time!

  2. The number of people defending the “romantic” scene between tamannah and prabhas on FB is too damn high. Even people speaking out against it are being bashed. Having a creepy guy doodle on you when you sleep will be our new courtship ritual. If you haven’t seen Rajamoulis previous movies, then the story is pretty much the same. Magadheera, Vikaramarkudu(rowdy rathore) have the exact same story. 2 lookalike protagonists. There is a flashback with the “powerful” character and he dies. The new guy takes over and defeats the villain. It’s a literal rehash of his previous movies.

    • Avanthika didn’t find the dude creepy, And that makes all the difference. Its ironic that all those who are horrified at the ‘taming’ of the heroine don’t want to give her the freedom to choose her own lover. Shouldn’t Avanthika be allowed to determine whether the ‘courtship ritual’ was romantic or creepy? You obviously think that she is too dumb to make her own choices and believe that she should follow the rules of courtship set by the feminazis of the 21st century.

      • +1. Nice to see someone thinking for themselves without blindingly following rules laid down by dogmatic feminists.

      • Well..I consider myself a “dogmatic” feminist. I had no problems with the seduction scene (I read somewhere of “friendly” rape scene…major eye-roll). It is very sensual, erotic and nice..ahem.

      • She did not find him creepy after he introduced himself and she decided to choose him. Before that he was a creepy dude doodling on a random girl. This scene hasn’t hampered my enjoyment of the movie, and we do not need to look to movies for proper social commentary. However, there is also nothing wrong in pointing out unsavory aspects of films. If this was the “bad guy” drawing tattoos on the heroine while she was asleep wouldn’t the audience reaction be different. Besides, if you have a certain section of the female audience saying that they find this scene creepy, we can not simply brush it off by attacking their views or calling them femnazis.

    • ” Having a creepy guy doodle on you when you sleep will be our new courtship ritual.” But he is not creepy. He is Bahubali. The girl has been brain-washed to be a warrier. Now hero comes and “awakens” her. She still trys to given him (natural) choloroform (sp?) and run away. And people like greatbong who have grown up on Amitabh-Smita’s “aaj rapat jaiye” type of songs, suddenly develop cinematic high standards!!!!!

    • “If this was the “bad guy” drawing tattoos on the heroine while she was asleep wouldn’t the audience reaction be different.”

      Of course, just in the way audience reaction is different when a buy guys kills compared to their reaction when a soldier or a cop kills a bad guy.

      “if you have a certain section of the female audience saying that they find this scene creepy, we can not simply brush it off by attacking their views or calling them femnazis.”

      Yes, we can brush off their views, because their views are abnormal, stupid and derived from flawed understanding of feminism. I’ve asked dozens of women about the scene..not one of them was offended by it. In fact, most of them were surprised to know that the scene has become controversial.

    • All his movies? Calm down man, I can understand people not liking a movie but why are people consumed with so much hatred towards this movie? Is it the same story as Student no:1, regards, maryada ramanna, yamadonga, sye etc why are people being dishonest and biased

  3. Oh my dear Pseudo intellect… we have a budget of $40 Million as against avengers which had 10 times more. As a normal movie buff, I found this movie quite engaging. Probably Rajmouli makes movies for less mortals like me than the smaller population of Pseudo Intellects like you

    • +1 for this!! Even with a budget of 10 time more, I find Avengers-2 and the whole series of Transformers as fake and superficial. No emotional depth or character arc. Here ppl will either root for Katappa or Baahubali or Shivudu.

  4. I guess people are mistaking budgets with good films…..As far as i can remember movies such as “jaane v do yarron” or “pother panchali” or a lot of other films were made on show string budgets, and yet remain to be classics through ages.

    Possibly movie goers need to grow up and understand the differences between good movies and great movies…..leave alone bad ones…

    • No director in the world tries to make a bad and hope for it to fail.. every1 tries their best to show a good film to the audience, but his capability of holding a subject might not hit certain set of audience. Not everyone likes a classic and it is after some years, people quote them classics!! If they were classics why don’t everyone rate them 10/10?

      If the director wants to make such films, he will, but he needs to have certain knowledge on how to make them.. Rajamouli is not used to making such kinda films.. He is a master in elevating emotional scenes, (though they lack in bahubali part1) he mixes the emotion, anger and action in a perfect way.(we missed such moments, but he compensated that with the fantasy visuals that are new to us).. Sanjay leela bansali is coming with bhajirao and he is capable of a narration that you like.. probably..

      If you don’t like a movie, that is fine but you cannot dictate on how he narrates the story. You are not the only person in the world that he is trying to satisfy!! He tries his best to hit every chord!!

      Do you even know how many technicians worked for this movie and how many jobless were employed? Big budgeted movie? Yes.. but on par with biggies in bollywood and they make what? KICK, DHOOM3 and Krissh? Krrish is even heavy budgetted than Baahubali and yet it sucks at CGI to the core.

      The reviewer is great at mixing words and applying maths, physics and body parts in a fictional fantasy song but he also inadvertently brings his own logic into criticizing what I thought was a poetic dream!! The lyrics were so great and the sanskrit used was awesomely soothing to listen to.. (in Telugu) Totally it was a visually immersive, lyrically strong and volumically sound, but u need to experience that in a Dolby Atmos and 4K 😛 and only in Telugu.. Also the reviewer seems to have not kept an open mind that he is watching a tollywood film which us always considered an underdog in indian cinema and kept comparing with Hollywood biggies.. first of thanks for that brother!! We feel over joyed and ‘underwhelmed’ to know the CGI looked CGI to you.. well we Indians are not used to making or even thinking of a CGI based film with a 130cr budget when the experienced hollywood techinicians make them at around 1000cr budgets!! So it is baseless to compare CGI tech, Period.

      Overall this review is a minus not just because I liked the film but the way things were written and portrayed.. A simple review saying that it doesn’t live up to hype created would have sufficed!!

    • This is a period movie, of course budget matters- even with $40m they could just pass the line. FYI ‘art’ movies like apu trilogy alone cannot be classified as great movies, films like benhur which was the biggest budgeted movie of its time are also equally great

  5. Splendid… marvellous.. eye grandeur…epic…awesome…words can never describe the greatness of bahubali.

  6. “neelachalachitram” LoL moment of the day.
    Well I loved the movie & your review as well. Agreed the movie has lot of streotypes, but then you are comparing it with hollywood. People back here love those desi streotypes, a director has to keep that in mind. The CGI was not clean, esp in scenes like the Avalanche chase, but what I really liked is that it set the bar very high for the so called “Bollywood”.
    About the superheroes, you should always take it with truck load of salt when you watch a telugu movie. With this movie I feel that Indian cinema has woken up to the global competition & this is what I loved about the film. From director’s perspective it is a new experience overall for Indian cinema & he is certainly pioneer in that regard a quality which I would always admire.

  7. As Bharat mentions this movie is basically a remake of Magadheera or Vikaramarkudu on a grandeur scale. Well if you are trying to pump in so much money, why not think of something like the “Life of Pi” or even “Makkhi” or an “Avatar” for raising the bar in terms of grandeur or CGI?
    @ Di..your comments seem to biased…similar to some marketing head trying to push a third rate product with whatever logic comes to your mind.

    • Let me reply, rajamouli’s ultimate dream is to make ‘Mahabharat’, and he himself said that he is good at showing ‘action sequences’, that is his trademark. Also, bahubali story was built based on the 7 main characters (Avanthika, shivudu, bahubali, devasena, bijjaladeva, bhallaldeva and kattappa). Rajamouli asked his father to come up with a story which has heavy action and depth for each character and larger than life story with period background. Now being said that his ultimate goal is to make ‘Mahabharat’, the humble man said that all these films were trial versions to make the ultimate dream come true. So he gained experience over the years ‘Yamadonga’ was his first take on mythology, next with ‘magadheera’ he got closer with CGI n art and also bettered mythology, with ‘Eega (Makhkhi)’ which he started out as a small budgeted experiment, he matured even more in visually presenting a film. He has the idea of making bahubali with prabhas from around 2008, i assume. Baahubali is based on characters and not story I believe. He wanted to show the deceit, valor, romance, love, pride, lust, anger and twisted(behavior) in a single movie on the lines with Mahabharat and that is how Baahubali shaped up.

      Yes, he could have taken a different subject.. but one should do what he/she is good at and action is what rajamouli is comfortable with and he made this movie on a budget of 130cr for the first part which is like 40cr more than a commercial super star film in Bollywood. Other directors are more than welcome to try ‘Life of Pi’ or ‘Avatar’ in 130cr budget for CGI. The producers have the final say on producing a film, coz it is their money. They just don’t spend the money by looking at rajamouli’s success, they will listen to his script first and how he wants to make it and then only do they finance.

      Coming to Avanthika scene, every one has their own view and a movie is a movie, if I were to get inspired from a movie, I would have killed a handful corrupt officers by now (Gabbar) and turn a bike into a jet ski (Dhoom3), or watch an AIB show and curse a random girl on the road and tell her that it is an adult joke and she needs to indulge it. If a boy likes a girl, I am sure he follows her everywhere but tries not to be creepy, (Shiv is not creepy).. and coming to disrobing. He did disrobe her armor and sleeves.. He also disrobed her lehenga and flipped the sides and ended it. thank god!! She is a warrior and is in no mood to listen to what he says on what he wants her to know. She only wants to kill him and what he tries is to show how beautiful she would look and I am sure she has a past that is really healthy and also heartbreaking which made her a warrior by force. (She belongs to Kunthala Kingdom.. watch it again if you are in doubt).. and also a point why she turned feminine in that scene all of a sudden. Only Part 2 can explain.

      • I think some people, in north, are seriously jealous of Bahubali’s success and planting these stupid stories. It is a seduction scene alright. In the end of the scene, it is avantika who opens her blouse and it is hinted that they make love (how else is she going to have a baby for part-2). How else is script writer going to connect the grandson-shivdu-bahubali, into rescuing the empire? The avantika breathes and exists only for that. Once Prabhas/Shivdu/Bahubali junior goes to Mahismati, avantika disappears. The script called for it. It is not an unnecessary interjection like in bollywood films. It is definitely not a rape scene. And there is no question of consent vs force. Even before tattoes and shivdu following her, she is already in love with him but is fighting her feelings as she is torn between duty and love.

    • Baahubali is a remake of Magadheera or Vikramarkudu.. This is the most LOLest comment I have ever heard. Please watch both those movies again and get back!

  8. Im a non telugu guy but watched this movie in Telugu first. I got to watch it again in Hindi yesterday. I should say this- I felt the telugu film had a greater impact on me than the Hindi version. The characters felt real, the dialogues “sounded” powerful (even though I couldn’ understand a drop of it) and the whole Mahishmati felt authentic. The BGM was awesome with a LOT of sanskrit verses. Whereas in Hindi, I felt some sort of surrealness many a time – I felt detached.
    As for the disrobing scene, i think the director attempted a “Mask of the Zorro”-ish act but lacked the finesse. I can only hope Devasena (the imprisoned kundala queen) is an equal to Amerendra Bahubali (the dad) if at all they have a duel in part 2.

    • I watched bits of Maghdeera(Sp?) yesterday in dubbed hindi version (which has over 600K views on youtube) which people said was copy or similar to BahuBali(BB). However there is no comparision, maybe a flash here and there. But I do think it will be Bahubali senior and Rana, fighting for same girl (devsena) in part 2 and Devasena not being royal is not eligible match and Bahubali senior taking deva instead of the kingdom and Rana and co will still kill the grand-mother and son (bahubali) even after becoming the kind, and grandson will be rescued (first scene of part 1). Its going to be utterly predictable and utterly enjoyable.

  9. I am one of those rare people who agrees with every word of this review. Truly underwhelmed and waste of 20 freaking bucks!

  10. Ideal is a fiction. Comparisons do not make sense every time. What the reviewer has written are his thoughts based on his previous experiences. Avocado and apple taste different but one cannot compare with both of them because both are different and serve different purpose.

    This movie is made in India and has found place in every newspaper of the world because it has made an impact from India. Deficiencies are always there as no one is perfect in this world. But comparing is mindless. I would bet with the same budget, no Hollywood director would make even will be able to complete half the movie. With the limited resources at his disposal, the director tried his best to please some thing for everyone.

    Given the choice of Avengers budget, this movie would have been different. But unlike watching a movie like a movie, I think the writer kept bringing all the movies in front and missed enjoying this movie as it is. Because it is made in India. It has its own essence.

    Enjoy life as it unfolds…

  11. The comments are many. But I want to add mine. ‘For an Indian’ movie, the visuals are epic, I agree. Of course, to be great, the bar has to be with the Avengers, Harry Potters of the world. But, then Hollywood also has monstrous budgets. The plot seems to be building up and lets wait for the part 2. Its just a ‘fantasy’ movie with great visuals. Great review though.

  12. Watch this movie to see the result of a hard work. And for beautiful music in it. Its nothing more than a typical Telugu masala. We can see how they spend the money for a film like this. I realized what our audience needed. And I wanted to see more heroism in the hero. I saw more power than strength, more lust than love in him. I can’t go with this movie.

    • “telugu typical masala”. really? Firstly, all movie industries in India have so called ‘Masala” movies. Secondly, this is one rare commercial movie from India which actually had powerful female characters and all main characters have a backstory

    • ” I saw more power than strength, more lust than love in him.”

      “And found himself in the United States of America. But where was that bikini-clad goddess of beauty who had inspired him? She was not there.”

      OMG! What a retarded analogy. It was just a stupid foreplay-esque song. Why are you guys putting your New York feminist “Rape Culture” Spin to it!

      How come ONLY feminists and SJWs see all these imaginary offensive things in a movie that shouts “FANTASY”?

      This movie is for viewers that enjoy escapist cinema. This movie is for viewers who don’t need every movie character and story to be a realistic representation of life that will RESONATE with their progressive leftists ideas!

      There are bahubali-type movies in every industry. Do you think “Expendables” and “Transporter” were made to please intellectual thinkers? Think Again!

      Is SICARIO a good movie?
      YES. But it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. The female lead shows fear and vulnerability (THAT any LIVING creature would have shown under those circumstances!). We must all hate it!

      Is Ex machina a good movie?
      Not really. But it has a strong female lead who will choose her own independent path and end up in a traffic intersection while abandoning the nerdy Mangina who saves her!
      YAY!!! Welcome to the paradise for the Aparna Sens and Shaban Azmis of the world!

      i just saw a movie where Robert Di Niro cries while watching a love song and dance and lectures women in the park about supporting the female CEO character for BREAKING the glass ceiling for all of them! Wow! The intellectual honesty in that movie was killing me! (SARCASM!) The gender roles were reversed, An old white man was calling a 30 something woman “BOSS!” Wow! I had tears in my eyes at the way the west has progressed and the things we still need to learn from them!

      Maybe, you guys should stick with movies endorsed by hollywood and bengali feminists and Social Justice Warriors and leave Bahubali-type movies for the “rapists” of India!

  13. The Lyrics of Songs in the movie is not upto the Folk or Mythology, the words used in songs were immature. Rajamouli should have choosen some other lyricists for the songs.

  14. Suggest you to watch it in Telugu and not dubbed Hindi version. Its a different experience. Actors speak lines and not some dubbing artists.

  15. I think its a very basic story with compelling narration with great emotions and gripping water tight screen play. But heard insiders view that SSR was not completely convinced himself and is taking extra time to add more weightage to the second part. But personally I loved this movie though it has been done to death in many movies, second only to SRK’s Rahul, naam to suna hoga, the emotional connect extracted by the director and the way the movie is made overall is top draw & thoroughly enjoyed it & also the build up to the second part (telugu version in the link below)

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