Bahu — Superhit — Bali
The most successful Indian experiment of all time
It was a normal Sunday night except for the fact that I, along with two of my friends had just entered into the lobby of a local multiplex. Usually, Sunday nights are not the movie nights. This honor is bestowed upon the nights of Fridays and Saturdays. The nights when young and old throng the theaters to witness their favorite stories on the big screen.
Sunday nights, on the other hand, are meant to be enjoyed at home, on the couch. Lazily and relaxed. But seeing the crowd that was there in the lobby, I could see, with some surprise, that people had made an exception this one time.
An Exception for the movie Bahubali — 2.
We had reached the multiplex well over fifteen minutes before the start of the movie. But so much was the crowd, and long was the queue such that it took us the rest of the remaining fifteen minutes to enter the theater and take our seats. By the time we settled the initial sets of advertisements and trailers had started and finished. And then began the movie.
The movie started where it left us at the end of Part 1. Where Katappa is narrating the story of how he ended up killing Amarendra Bahubali (Mahendra Bahubali’s father). In the story, having defeated Kalkeyas (in Part 1) Bahubali is declared as the future king of Mahishmati. His stepbrother (Bhallal Deva) on the other hand is appointed as commander in chief. As expected, this does not go down well with both Bhallal Deva. Nor with his father who wanted to see his son coronated as the king. But unlike his father, Bhallal Deva is ready to wait and buy time before striking back with vengeance.
This singular act of patience by Bhallal Deva sets the foundation for the rest of the movie. Everything that happens in the story after this happens because of this act of supreme patience by Bhallal Deva. The man who was brought up with the belief that he’ll rule the vast kingdom of Mahishmati. He didn’t shout or sulk or threw fist thrashing pillars like his father did. He kept shut. And set his eyes on what he needed. An opportunity.
And from this moment on Rajamouli (Director) let his imagination loose and let the characters on one adventure after another. Be it Bahubali’s attempt to woo Devasana (Anushka Shetty) in the wild boar hunt.. Or when he and Katappa inspire the whole kingdom to fight against the attack of the rogue Pindaris.
The strategy that Bahubali employs, the action sequences, are very original. And not for once (except micro action stunts) one gets the feeling of watching a poorly aped movie that one often gets watching a Bollywood movie. Unlike movies like Krish and others which tried to recreate the formulaic Hollywood story of a caped hero, Bahubali is an original Indian take on the fantasy genre. And it came out really well. The entire set of Mahishmati and Kuntala kingdom is utterly believable. And not for once you feel that the events in the movie are fake or unreal.
And in my opinion, that’s the purpose of any art. To make you believe in the impossible. To make you see wide-eyed the utter impossibilities. The utterly unbelievable things. The things which you might shrugged your shoulders at and laugh and ignore otherwise. But here, in front of the big screen, despite knowing that it is a work of fiction, you say to yourself, ‘wow, this is possible.’
And Rajamouli made this happen not one time or two times, but every time when Bahubali (both Amerandra or his son Mahendra) faced the screen and swore to serve the kingdom of Mahishmati until their last breath. Or when Devasana flared the moment she felt somebody was even looking at the pride she had in her kingdom. And Devasana, as a character, I must say, came out as among the fiercest portrayed woman characters in the recent times.
One of the two things that I think the movie falls short on was the songs. Maybe because I watched the dubbed version of the movie (in Hindi). The dubbing always takes something away from the original movie. The passion in the voice of the actors who are living that character for days. And in the case of Hindi dubbing, the situation is even bad as the film producers don’t even try to make an effort for a world-class dubbing. This came out even more poor in the case of songs which felt ill-timed and interrupted the otherwise fast paced story.
Secondly, I felt that Rajamoulli had this bet that he’ll finish the series in the second installment. So he rushed through many sub plots. Be the attack of Pindaris on the Kuntala Kingdom or the attack that Mahendra Bahulbali deploys against the Bhallal Deva. Even though well executed, lacked the foundation building which we see in Hollywood movies. He could have gone for the third part, easily. But maybe he thought that Indian audience is not yet ready for three-part movies. And he wanted to finish when he was riding on the highest wave.
And what wave he is riding. The most successful Indian movie all time. And it is breaking box office records all over the world. It was the third highest grossing movie in the USA last week. And made it to UK top ten. Back in India, it raked in five billions rupees in its just first week. Thank you, Rajamoulli for the magic that I had been waiting all my life yet to see on the screen of Indian Cinema. Thank you very much.
PS- I hope Bollywood take a note from this amazing director and move over remaking South Indian movies to making some original stuff.