After the insane reincarnated housefly revenge magnum opus, Eega (2012), I made a vow that I would watch anything directed by S.S. Rajamouli. Three years later comes Baahubali and he has completely pushed the cinematic envelope way off the charts with this one. This is total gonzo filmmaking. It feels like Rajamouli is holding the director’s rulebook in his hand and he shouts “fuggit!” Then he went ahead and shot whatever his mind dreams up. This is a film made with total abandonment without adhering to steadfast rules. It re-invents its own rules and reality, and it is massively monster-entertaining.
Shivudu (Prabhas) lives at the foot of a massive waterfall that fascinates and frustrates him at the same time because he is never able to scale the slippery rocks or the mountain. But when he eventually makes it to the top of the mountain, he discovers a kingdom in turmoil. Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati), the despotic king of Mahishmati, has imprisoned Queen Devasena (Anushka Shetty) for many years now. Shivudu, unaware of his connection to the kingdom, spends his days wooing Avanthika (Tamannaah Bhatia), one of the followers of the queen. But when he replaces her in a mission to rescue Devasena, his past unknowingly catches up with him.
After watching thousands of films and writing hundreds of reviews, I sometimes feel I have become jaded. Almost every film can be reduced to a platitudinal paragraph or two. But sitting in a full house screening of this Tamil film (that is currently breaking numerous box office records in India), I was busy lifting my jaw so many times off the floor. I can’t believe I was watching a film of such an epic scale, with such incredible story ideas and super duper inventive action spectacles. It felt like I was seeing cinematic stuff for the first time. It was a feast for the senses.
My wife only had one complaint – some of the scenes were grossly exaggerated. I would like to correct that – the whole film is crazily exaggerated. The grand set design is a huge page taken out from Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, the physical actions that are humanly impossible, all of it I gladly took in hook line and sinker because of Rajamouli’s great sense of effervescent adventure and his superb touch on CGI and great spectacles always serving the story. The characters depicted here are larger than than life and the storytelling has the chops to match it. The Indian cinema clichés are all here – the extended flashback, mother and son sad story, sibling rivalry, the indispensable love story. But the superb execution make them so refreshing. I can’t believe nearly 3 hours passed by. This is an awe-inspiring film and I had goosebumps rising up so many times. Any movie that can make me believe a dude can stay underwater long enough so that he can tattoo a girl’s hand with waterproof paints has gotten it right. This one broke all the rules and set new ones.
This is fricking CINEMA!!!!
4.5 / 5
PS – the sequel drops next week! Oh God, please let me crazy awesome again!
My fave song. The spectacle is jaw dropping