The euphoria is on; horizons have been widened and the box office is on fire all around the world. Baahubali: The Conclusion is that rare movie which comes once in a very long while, to give a larger than life experience and make us embrace cinema as the magic spell cast on us. Rajamouli’s magic is always so impactful that it takes days to get out of those moments and come back to our mundane lives.
The emotional highs
It’s largely because of his emotional highs that Rajamouli is so successful in putting us into this trance. Who could ever imagine that this would begin right from the moment the title credits start rolling? Followed by the mind boggling introduction of three most loved characters of the first part in quick succession, it was evident that the emotional graph will go higher and higher. While it is those moments which remain close to the heart, there was much more which contributed to the magic of this epic.
As the adage goes, the devil lies in the detail. For Baahubali, Rajamouli has intricately weaved magic in the detail. The movie constantly comes up with links which surprise us. Firstly, there are many similarities between the scenes of the father and son. A few are evident like the name Shivudu, the falling in love, the revealing of robes transforming to Mahishmati’s armour and the usage of palm trees.
A few are less evident like the tree catching up fire before Amarendra’s death and when Shivudu enters Mahishmati. In a shower of arrows, Amarendra saves Kattappa and later, Kattappa saves Shivudu.
While the similarities are expected for the father and the son, there are action sequences also which are choreographed in the same manner. But to take it a step further, there are details in the songs too. All the songs have lyrics which fit within the situation. We have the delightful Hamsa Naava, which is turning out to be a major reason for the audience to watch the movie again as it should be experienced only on the big screen. To bring out the link here, there is the following shot in Pachabottesina song where the focus is on the swan like miniature boat, referring to the Hamsa Naava and the Kunthala kingdom.
There are also patterns of colors that are used. For example, Devasena is introduced in pink and blue. In Hamsa Naava, we also see Devasena casting a spell into the water in a lighter shade of pink and is countered by a blue spell from Amarendra. Now, what were the colors of the Pachabottu in Pachabottesina song? It’s again darker variants of pink and blue.
Further, a closer look also shows a swan in the tattoo, with an extension of what seems like wings, reminding the magnificent flight of the Hamsa Naava.
Next, we have events in The Conclusion which bring greater meaning to The Beginning, when arranged in the chronological order. The most important one includes Devasena. The defining moment for Devasena was her walking on the shoulders of Amarendra. When we realize that it was this strong woman who was kicked on the head by Bhadra, it is further disheartening. So, when Devasena walks over Bhalla’s head (the statue), it feels justified. In the same context, it is also satisfying that Shivudu had beheaded Bhadra (and later, caused the beheading of Bhalla’s statue) because his father Amarendra would have done the same even in a full court. Incidentally, the sword used for both the beheadings is the same.
The film reminds of many epics that we have grown up with. It also looks like a reflection of the history, the grand kingdoms and the rivalries that the country witnessed. The destruction of the beautiful Kunthala kingdom felt like the fall of Nalanda and its glory. There are also references to Carnatic music. Kanna Nidurinchara, stands out as the only song without those majestic drum beats. It is an audio-visual treat for classical music lovers and gives the feel of Yashoda singing a lullaby to Lord Krishna.
In India, not many films have been made in two parts (not sequels, which are built on the success of the first). For such films, the audience needs to be satisfied for the first part and there should be intrigue to draw audiences for the second part. Baahubali has done that in an unparalleled manner and has set the benchmark high. Again, if we arrange the whole film in chronological order and look at how the first part has been separated from the second, leaving all those loose ends with minimal dialogs from each character; we get to know the prowess of Rajamouli’s screenplay. In fact, Prabhas has even stated that it took 15-20 days for Rajamouli to separate the two parts.
Amidst all the high voltage scenes, Baahubali gives us those silent class moments which speak out. In the first part, we had the mask, which serves as the question “Nenu Evvarni?” and makes a way for Shivudu realizing his identity. Then, there was the scene where Avantika looks at her reflection in the water and waves it off, questioning herself. In the second part, we have the Kunthala flag broken by the giant elephant structure of Mahishmati, as an early sign. Post the killing of Baahubali, there is a lightning that reveals Kattappa at the doorstep of Sivagami, as if the thunder was to hit her soon through Kattappa’s words. And there is the epic conclusion, which shows the journey all along the river, with a close up shot of the Shiva linga. It feels as if Lord Shiva was there to witness His devotee’s last wish, “Parameshawara! Naa paapalaku…”. He has brought back life cycle (call it Jeeva Nadi) to the very point where it all began, restoring the balance between good and evil. We also have the song Oka Pranam during the title credits which spells out not just the details of the characters but also the story, in minimal words and ends with the lyric “Prathi Bottu Shaivamm..Shivamm”. It points that the story is a divine intervention (Sivuni Aana Ayyindemo) and gives a hint that the movie will end here.
It was 18th February, 2011, when Rajamouli officially announced Baahubali, setting the ball of expectations rolling for us (Check the video below). In these six plus years, we witnessed the journey of the Baahubali team through the team’s updates over social media, as we were sure that they would make Telugu cinema proud. At the end, it suddenly feels like a void that the journey has ended. In Rajamouli’s pursuit to fulfil his dream, he has given us the imagination to dream beyond the obvious. A generation of audience would grow up dreaming through his visuals. With the enormous success of Baahubali, the journey ahead for Rajamouli might be beyond the Vindhyas, but as audience, all we can say is, “Dandaalayya dandaalayya, maathone nuvvundaalayya”.
P.S. The history of films being made as two parts in India is quite recent. It started with the trendsetter RGV making Rakta Charitra in two parts. Soon, Anurag Kashyap followed with Gangs of Wasseypur which garnered critical success. Mani Ratnam too planned to make a period drama Ponniyin Selvan in two parts with Mahesh Babu and Vijay, but it did not turn out to be viable. Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam is yet to come out with the second part. Consider Rakta Charitra. RGV had all the emotional highs delivered in violent formats in part 1. But part 2 had to see the fall of one hero and the rise of another. That was based on real-life and it had to be made that way. Rajamouli, on the other hand did not have that limitation because he was dwelling in fantasy. So, the second part could be made much bigger than the first, with many more emotional highs. And I need not need to talk about the critical and commercial success of the film. In the history of Indian cinema, the team of Baahubali is surely going to have a chapter written in golden pages.
If you wish to contribute, mail us at email@example.com