Two royal cousins with vastly different temperaments, raised by the same mother.
A mother, who wisely chooses one to lead their kingdom. Enraged, the other son plots and schemes his way into snatching the throne, by hook or by crook. This, in a nutshell, is what Baahubali is all about.
A revenge saga. At heart, a family drama.
This movie follows Katappa’s account of what transpired after the Kalakeyas were defeated. Queen Mother Sivagami proclaims Amarendra as the next king, much to the consternation of his cousin, Bhallala Deva, and asks him to tour the kingdom before the coronation. Along with the trusted Katappa, Amarendra travels the length and breadth of his kingdom in disguise, and ends up falling for Devasena, the princess of the Kuntala kingdom.
When Sivagami mistakenly sends a proposal to Devasena for Bhallala Deva, the latter refuses. Enraged, the Queen Mother has Amarendra bring the proud princess to her. When the truth of the matter is revealed, she asks him to choose between the throne and the princess. His choice leaves her devastated but she tolerates it.
Until one fateful day, when her biological son spins a terrible yarn and Sivagami makes a decision which tears apart the entire fabric of peace and sanity. Prabhas reprises his role as both Amarendra Baahubali, the father and Mahendra Baahubali, the son. He is pretty impressive and convincing in both the characters.
Fine nuances of the older and younger Baahubali are brought forth subtly by the actor. As the vile, scheming and conniving hulk Bhallala Deva, Rana Daggubati is menacing from the word go.
His anguish as he eyes the crown, his less-than-noble thoughts about Devasena and his pure hatred towards his cousin pour directly from his expressive eyes. Of course, it helps that both the leading men are finely chiselled and carved specimens of humanity.
Anushka Shetty’s Devasena is a pleasant departure from the damsels-in-distress route. She can hold her own in a brutal fight and speaks her mind freely without fear.
Devasena’s feminism is not the flag-bearing-in-your-face kind, it’s just natural. When she speaks out against the Queen Mother in a crowded assembly, she is asserting her right to speech rather than make a show out of rebellion.
When she is brought before the court for chopping away the fingers of a lecherous sentinel, she sticks to her guns. When she rejects the Queen’s proposal for her, she is not being proud- she wants to get to know the guy first.
This is a carefully nuanced performance by a dependable and very likable Anushka.
Full marks to the leading lady. If Ramya Krishnan wowed you as the just, kind and fair Queen in the previous movie, she blows you away with her grey tinged character in this one. Sure, she loves Amarendra like her own son and prefers him as the king.
But apart from being a Queen, Sivagami is also a mother. In a moment of weakness, and unable to penetrate the veneer of deceit and the web of lies her handicapped husband and biological son have woven, Sivagami succumbs to maternal love and her decision changes everybody’s lives in an instant.
Ramya Krishnan’s Sivagami is both proud and affectionate, ruthless and caring, fair to the point of sidelining her own child and getting betrayed by her own blood. She deservedly gets the lion’s share of the movie’s running time and steals the scene every single time.
No review of Baahubali would be complete without Katappa.
This man has been ruling internet memes and chat sessions ever since the first movie released. Sathyaraj inhabits Katappa with a fervor and devotion which has to be seen to be believed.
Watch his eyes well up and listen to his voice shake with self-disgust as he recounts why he had to kill Baahubali. Watch him as he plays a wingman to Amarendra’s attempts to win over Devasena.
Every crease on his mouth, every wrinkle on his face and every scar on his hand tells a story and Sathyaraj just seamlessly melts into Katappa. You can never tell when Sathyaraj ends and Katappa begins.
Minor characters are well-etched too. For instance, Subbaraju, as Devasena’s brother in-law, seems to provide only comic relief in the beginning, but his character grows and transforms into a well rounded person towards the end.
Much has already been talked and discussed about the stunning visual effects, the VFX, Keeravani’s brilliant score and the spectacular cinematography. What you take back with you from the movie is a sense of wonderment; a breathless gasp every time you recall the cows with their flaming horns, the thundering of their hooves; the sheer drama of using coconut trees as slingshots; the taming of a wild elephant in the opening scene and superbly executed war sequences, with split second precision.
This is what you marvel about- Rajamouli’s grandiose vision and the outstanding realization by his technical team. Every frame is exquisite and has an ethereal quality to it. Once you’re in the theater, you’re simply sucked into the world of Mahishmati.
It is rare for a regional film to break out of its territory, much less achieve what these two movies have done. With simultaneous releases in as many as four languages, Baahubali is not just a film series anymore; it’s a phenomenon, a byword for excellence, perseverance, technical skill, imagination and grandeur.
Baahubali, Bhallala Deva, Sivagami, Katappa, Devasena and Avanthika are no longer mere characters. Each has come to stand for its own set of virtues and values.
It takes courage, gumption and above all, utter and total faith to translate this kind of a vision onto screen. Take a bow Mr.S.S.Rajamouli and team. You deserve all the accolades coming your way.