#365DaysOfWriting — Day 355

Bahubali 2: The Conclusion

Bahubali v Bhallaladeva

Why did Katappa kill Bahubali?

If you’re a discerning cinema watcher, you would’ve probably understood the reason even before the movie began. In any case, SS Rajamouli answers that question with a flourish, quite early on in the piece – about 1/4th of the way into the film. The best part is – this movie even isn’t about why he killed him.

That whole campaign, and the cliffhanger from the last film, was just a smokescreen.

A smokescreen for all the jaw-droppingly directed moments in this one. If anything, what Bahubali 2 shows us is that Rajamouli is a man prepared to learn from his mistakes – while the first film felt overlong and overstuffed at 159 minutes, the second one feels a lot more lithe and tighter, even at 171 minutes. This is the hand of an assured, veteran director at work. He barely gives us any time to breathe in this one, as lavish set-piece follows lavish set-piece with the fervour of a Mad Max chase sequence. The CGI is heavy-handed though, and clearly visible at many points. However, the direction manages to mask all those frailties sufficiently for us to enjoy this larger-than-life saga.

A larger-than-life saga needs larger-than life characters.

This is India’s Masters of the Universe movie. And Prabhas, who plays Amarendra/Mahendra Bahubali is its He-Man. He wears power with consummate ease – a disarming smile and his piercing eyes are enough to convey every emotion in the book. Whether it is his vulnerability in the company of his mother Sivagami, a sense of childlike wonder and puppy love when he sees Devasena, or stringing up the bad guys by the dozen with his parkour-like battle skills, Prabhas does it all and more.

His Man-At-Arms is the trusty Katappa (but you already knew that, didn’t you?). Veteran actor Sathyaraj plays the trusted general with an assurance only a man of his experience can play. He has the toughest job in the film – going from trusted aide to betrayer amidst a web of conspiracies – but he manages to hold it all together. You can’t help but like him.

The ladies form the fulcrum of this giant, majestic movie. Ramya Krishnan plays the fiery, authoritative Sivagami, who at one end dotes over her sons like a sweet mother, but turns into the Godmother if anyone dares sully the good name of her kingdom, Mahishmati. Her hot-headed nature sometimes gets the better of her, but she is well and truly the boss of the show.

The beautiful Anushka Shetty plays Devasena, Bahubali’s true love, who by a cruel twist of fate lands up in the courts of Mahishmati in chains. One of the best shots of the film is when she cuts off the fingers of a molester, and then taunts him afterwards.

Bahubali’s arch-nemesis is the scheming, devious Bhallaladeva – a physical and mental match for our hero. He’s played by Rana Daggubati, who portrays villainy in the most stylish, yet creepiest way possible. He’s not a man who’s shy of killing his own mother for the throne. He’s probably a Duryodhana equivalent to Bahubali’s Arjuna. Absolutely menacing and brilliant performance.

Every Duryodhana needs a Shakuni. In this case, that would be Bijjaldeva, played by the brilliant Nasser. He eggs his son, Bhallaladeva on to carry out all his nefarious schemes in a game of lies, deceit and corruption for power. Nasser deftly moves from betrayal to betrayal, keeping the confidence of Sivagami while pushing Bahubali away from the kingdom.

The climax is reminiscent of the final battle from Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

Rajamouli mounts his climax on a scale that will ensure your jaw stays stapled to the floor. Whether it’s the one-on-one battle between Bahubali and Bhallaladeva, or armies of horses and well-built oxen duking it out, you cannot take your eyes off the screen even once. There is one sequence, where Bahubali’s army uses coconut trees as a slingshot to cross the walls of Mahishmati in groups of 5 using their shields as cover – almost like hurling living rocks to weaken the defences of the enemy. I can’t describe it in words, you have to see the movie to know what I mean. It’s one of my favourite moments in the entire film.

In Conclusion…

Go watch the epic conclusion to the Bahubali saga. A conclusion that leaves you wanting more. A visual spectacle mounted on a scale never before seen in Indian cinema. And larger-than-life characters who stay true to the course, and make you want to know more about them. This truly is ‘An SS Rajamouli Creation’.

PS: Remember when I said this was like a Masters of the Universe movie? Imagine if Man-At-Arms killed He-Man…

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