Bahubali – The Beginning (2015)

There is a wrong notion people follow, “A Sculpture lies inside a Stone”. In fact, “Sculpture lies inside Sculptor’s mind, not inside the stone”. S.S.Rajamouli is a great sculptor who takes a normal stone (story) and converts it into a beautiful sculpture (film). The chisel he uses is “Technology”. That’s why film industry calls him “Jakkanna”. This time he came up with “Baahubali” which is quoted as the India’s biggest motion picture. Since the arrival of Eastman Colour and Scope cinema in India, this two-part periodical drama has used the most advanced technology. Produced by Shobhu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni under the banner of “Arka Media”, this film stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka, Tamanna and Ramya Krishna in the pivotal roles. The first part was released on 10th July, 2015 as “Baahubali – The Beginning”. Now I’m going to share my experience watching it in the first show.

Please forgive me for a lengthy review and all inline images used are taken from trailers.

Plot:

This part is the story of Shivudu (Prabhas) who was saved by queen Sivagami (Ramya Krishna) in his childhood and brought up in a tribe. The mountain surrounding his tribe haunts him and he wants to find what lies up there. Getting failed for multiple times since his childhood, suddenly one day he climbs the mountain. What inspired him to climb? What he has found up there? How his life turned further forms the rest of the story.

Screenplay – Direction:

With “Magadheera”, Rajamouli became noted for employing a wide range technology for it. With “Eega”, he proved that he stepped up in using the technology. But “Baahubali” made use of technology to a great extent such that the whole Indian Film Industry turned towards Telugu Cinema.

Coming to the screenplay and direction, this film has a significance. If people like me who had already watched this film and written reviews like this, narrate every frame to those who haven’t watched yet, nothing is going to harm them. The reason is, “Jakkanna” attracts you with his extraordinary visuals. So let’s talk about them now.

Firstly, the scene where Sivagami rescues the child. Here the credit should goes to five people. Director “Rajamouli”, Cinematographer “Senthil Kumar”, Visual Effects “Sreenivas Mohan”, Music Director “Keeravani” and Sivagami “Ramya Krishna”. These five have printed this amazing scene in the audience’s heart with their enormous effort.

Secondly, the scene where Shivudu carries “Shivalingam” on his shoulders. The song “Sivuni Aana” that comes in the background elevated the character with its “Slow Motion Shots”. A dance bit by Prabhas is a visual treat for audience. This should be watched on the silver screen to experience its actual eminence.

Next comes the scene where Shivudu climbs the mountain. The Cinematography and visual effects gave their full contribution to make it amazing.

Picture

Sincere thanks to Rajamouli for his imagination and Sreenivas Mohan for visualizing this on screen. From here, Rajamouli takes his audiences to a new world for the next five to six minutes. It can be said as the first eminent part of first half.

Though the coming scenes run at a slower pace, Rajamouli gives a top level narration with the scene where Bhallaladeva’s (Rana) statue is erected. Before this, the entire “Maahishmathi” kingdom is portrayed in aerial shots which show the effort of art director “Sabu Cyril”. The fort, houses are built fabulously and every penny paid on this creation is paid off. Even Keeravani elevated the screenplay step by step with his haunting background score. As per the film sources, this was shot for 12 days. Every frame portrays the entire team’s effort. Hats off!

Picture

Every director has some signature scenes. This is one such for Rajamouli. Capturing everyone’s emotion made this scene as the best one of first half.

The second half has complete Rajamouli’s mark. The scene where Shivudu strives for his goal is amazing. “Kattappa – Shivudu” scene can be said as the best scene of Baahubali’s first part. Here Satyaraj’s performance is amazing.

Picture

I think only Rajamouli can think of scenes which do not cross story’s boundaries and catch the audiences’ pulse too. This was already proved with his previous films. Baahubali proved it once again.

The main asset of second half is “Sivagami”. Quoted as “The Epitome of Justice”, Ramya Krishna’s performance took the character to the next level.

The next important part of this film is “War with Kalakeya”. It started with a good elevation with Baahubali’s “Jai Maahishmathi” slogan and the war strategy applied. But its impact went down slowly with the time due to less effective background score and made it feel a bit longer. In addition, the new language “Kilikil” invented specially for this film and Prabhakar who acted as Kalakeya lord could not impress much.

The film was elevated again with the climax scene. This is the most important and intelligent scene as per the story but many audiences were unable to digest it as they felt this ending abrupt. But I feel no better scene can be written to end the first part and begin the second part than this with the available story.

Baahubali is correctly quoted as India’s biggest motion picture and should be watched on the silver screen.

Characters – Performances:

When you’re going to make an extraordinary film, you should choose cast who can take it to that level. Rajamouli succeeded in choosing the perfect cast for his characters.

Shivudu, Baahubali – Prabhas:
The first part of “Baahubali” runs mostly around “Shivudu” character. As per the caption given by the team, this character is an unrestrained and never gets tired of doing anything for its goal. Its behaviour is perfectly portrayed in the songs “Sivuni Aana” and “Dheevara”. “Amarendra Baahubali” is a gentle character which cares for its kingdom’s people. Prabhas balanced both the characters well with this appealing performance and showed variations nice between them.
If there is an actor like Prabhas in a film, the writers and directors get chance to make the audiences believe their imagination. One example for this is found in the scenes shot in Bulgaria.

Bhallaladeva – Rana Daggubati:
The strength of protagonist always depends on his antagonist. The former can grow more powerful only when the latter is highly powerful. For a protagonist like Prabhas, Rana is the perfect antagonist. But he didn’t get a scope to portray his skills in this part as he had a lesser screen presence when compared to Prabhas. So, he might show his tyranny in the second part.

Devasena – Anushka:
Firstly, Anushka should be praised for accepting this role as it is the most deglamourized one. Yet she came up with a terrific performance. One example is the conversation between Devasena and Kattappa. The close-up shot on her face portraying a terrific expression of her was fantastic. She even performed well in the scene where Bhallaladeva’s statue is erected.

Avantika – Tamannah:
This character has a goal in its life which was disturbed by Shivudu’s entry in her life. Hence it has become a less prominent one. But Tamannah acted well within its limitations. The scene where she says “ee kanneellu pirikithanaaniki pratheekalu kaavu” gave her a scope to act well.

Sivagami – Ramya Krishna:
If there is any most adorable character in this film then it’s none other than Sivagami. Ramya Krishna’s powerful performance took it to a higher level. Rajamouli should be appreciated for opting her for this role which comprises of Power, Politics and Justice. As long as “Baahubali” is remembered, “Sivagami” is also remembered. Hats off Ramya!

Kattappa – Satyaraj:
This is the most adorable character next to Sivagami. As this is a bilingual film, Rajamouli might have chosen Satyaraj who is well known to Telugu and Tamil audiences. Bommali Ravi Shankar who dubbed his voice for Satyaraj brought the character closer to the hearts. Satyaraj came up with an adorable performance as a honest slave to the kingdom. This is proved by the most eminent scene of the second half. (You can quote that scene after watching the film)

Bijjaladeva – Nasser:
Being handicapped physically, Bijjaladeva is known for his bitter mind, for which Nasser was the perfect option. But according to the story, this character doesn’t have much to do in this part. You should wait for the second half for its significant screen presence.

Kaalakeya – Prabhakar:
Rajamouli took special interest in moulding this character by inventing a new language especially for its tribe, namely “Kilikil”. But it failed to get noted in audience’s mind yet Prabhakar’s effort in bearing this role is shown well.

Aslaam Khan – Sudeep:
This cameo done by Sudeep helped elevating the Kattappa’s character.

Music:

We all know how Keeravani supports Rajamouli through his music and background score. Even for this film, he contributed well. Some examples are below,
1) The background score where Sivagami rescues the child.
2) The background score that comes after “Nippule Swaasaga” song.
3) The background score in the scene of erecting Bhallaladeva’s statue.
4) The background score in the scene between Kattappa and Shivudu in the second half.

Visualization of Songs:

1) Sivuni Aana. As said above, this song helped well in elevating Shivudu’s character.
2) Dheevara. This song has the best visuals of all songs in this part, especially the visuals in its last lines
3) Pacha Bottesina. Rajamouli got inspired from his godfather “Raghavendra Rao” in visualizing this song and the sets erected for it are so grand making it a visual treat.
4) Nippule Swaasaga. This song made the screenplay so eminent portraying Maahishmathi in aerial shots and the pain of Devasena character.
5) Mamathala Thalli. This song has elevated Sivagami’s character with some signature shots of Rajamouli.

Cinematography:

The main asset to this film after Rajamouli’s direction is Senthil Kumar’s photography. I just loved the aerial shots on Maahishmathi kingdom. Here are some more shots I liked,
1) The first most scenes where Sivagami rescues Mahendra Baahubali.
2) The shot which showed Shivudu’s shadow in water while carrying Shivalingam.
3) Bhalladeva’s bull fight.
4) A colourful shot where Shivudu says Avantika that he will fulfil her goal.
5) The scene between Kattappa and Shivudu.
6) Some shots on Prabhas during the war with Kaalakeya.

More Eminences:

If I keep on talking about each department individually, this review will not be enough. So I’m briefing other departments in this section.
1) Production Values. Though a director comes up with an extraordinary story, a film cannot be made unless a producer comes forward. Shobhu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni should be thanked first from bottom of our hearts for producing this Indian epic film with a budget of nearly 250 crores.
2) Sabu Cyril’s Art Direction. The effort of Sabu Cyril in building Maahishmathi is fantastic and mind blowing. Every set erected for this film serves a grand visual treat for audience’s eyes.
3) Sreenivas Mohan’s Visual Effects. He visualized every imagination of Rajamouli perfectly on the screen. Though most of the shots are shot in a green mat, every visual is appearing real. Fantastic work!
4) Peter Hein’s Action Choreography. Another thing that entertains audiences in this kind of periodic films is Fight sequences. Peter Hein succeeded in choreographing very good action episodes especially in Kalakeya’s war of second half.
5) Costumes. Costume designing by Rama Rajamouli and Prashanthi suited well for the story’s time and different characters.
6) Weapons. Nearly 20,000 weapons were designed exclusively for this film. Among all, I liked Bhallaladeva’s weapon which is an Indian Club used in different ways.
7) Language. Generally, in periodic dramas, language used, would be of ancient kind. Like in Magadheera, even this time Rajamouli used the normal slang which makes all the audience feel comfortable.
8) Kilikil Language. Just for one set of characters, a new language was invented by noted Tamil lyricist “Madhan Karky” who is the son of the most prominent lyricist Vairmuthu.

Lowlands Found:

1) Audiences’ high expectations. This is the main lowland for highly budgeted and hyped films like “Baahubali”. Whether it reached those expectations or not will be conveyed by its result after some days.
2) Slower narration in the first half.
3) Less effective romantic scenes between Prabhas and Tamannah.
4) Kaalakeya war scenes’ decreased effect with time.
5) Less effective kilikil language.

What should be learned from Baahubali?

1) You should have very good patience to work for a long time on big projects and make other people work.
2) You should not lose energy with time and you should ignite the energy in others and be a good captain.
3) You should give everyone their own credits for their work.
4) Hard work done with the above things never let you down.
– Yashwanth Aluru
An Telugu version of this piece can be found here
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