It’s difficult to write an honest critique of a gigantic attempt like BAHUBALI as a writer/reviewer actually stands nowhere in comparison to the efforts put in by the entire talented team in front and behind the curtain. But then every filmmaker and his team always puts in best of their efforts irrespective of the magnitude or names and the final product needs to be reviewed in all honestly respecting the hard work done. So let me try to review this major trendsetting sequel to the best of my ability.
The most important contribution of BAHUBALI in our Indian Cinema.
You must have read and heard about technical achievements of the film, its scale, the marvelous frames, the explosive performances, the action and more. But I will like to begin by mentioning the most important achievement or contribution of this 2 part series to our Indian Cinema….. and that is to bring every single movie lover of the country at one platform, talking about one film alone irrespective of their region, origin or language.
So what a Hindi (Bollywood) film couldn't in decades (or rather century), has been done by our Indian Regional Language Cinema and that too in an incomparable style beyond comparisons.
Bringing back the euphoria I personally last witnessed in the early 90s
Where the original BAHUBALI successfully created a ground for a worthy sequel, BAHUBALI 2 actually made us witness an entirely different kind of mass euphoria which was completely missing since the early 90s, and was not seen in any of the three Khan’s movies too despite their maddening hypes.
The craze of advance booking, the long queues in front of the theater, the jam packed house in the early morning show starting around 9 and the excitement of knowing how it is actually took me back in time when we used to feel the same in the 80s and 90s. In fact the last time I experienced this kind of massive enthusiasm among the audience was while watching HUM in 1991 when the theater was packed with people much more than its actual capacity and they had to stop the film right in the beginning to throw the gatecrashers out (should write about it in details soon).
The experience of watching the sequel (prequel or conclusion).
An impact of a film mostly or rather entirely depends upon what were you expecting and what it actually delivers at the end of those 3 hours?
Thankfully BAHUBALI 2 largely delivers what it promises and you do get to see a larger than life cinema well equipped with inspiringly designed sets, powerful confronting sequences, jaw-dropping execution, high tension drama and light romance too in a well-balanced or structured film providing a visually stunning experience.
In India, we love our hero performing the impossible, moving towards the enemy in slow-motion and then hitting him hard saving the women creating an entertaining drama. Dipped in exactly similar dramatic sentiments, the sequel turns out to be winner giving you some light hearted moments too and this time we surprisingly also have a fresh story-plot (K. V. Vijayendra Prasad) which frankly was not there in the first part.
The film keeps you fairly engrossed and entertained in the first half and the intermission comes right after an explosive sequence between the royal brothers. The second half begins with another worth applauding sequence giving a severe shock and then you get all your questions answered about why did Kattappa kill Bahubali and more, without going into any illogical and weird zone deserving appreciation. So the film impressively works both as a prequel as well as a sequel till the flashback is over.
However from here onwards it begins sliding down unexpectedly with the final war sequence not upto the mark (hilariously insane at times), unable to provide that much required high as earlier experienced in the original. Still the action keeps you occupied (despite being long and repetitive) and you feel more or less satisfied watching the most awaited movie of the year successfully transporting you into its own world.
No doubt playing the lead Prabhas is simply electrifying along with an aggressive Rana, but BAHUBALI 2 honestly belongs to the two fiery women on screen playing their author-backed roles emerging as the actual winners. Anushka Shetty is just perfect and Ramya looks every bit of its character shining convincingly. Once again Sathyaraj appears to be rock solid in his performance as Kattapa, but I did find him a little over the top in the light humorous sequences along another decent actor playing Kumar. Tamannah is almost not there featuring in just few scenes and Nassar is as usual terrific in his ruthless, calculative avatar as the cunning mama.
Technical Department / Music
Needless to say BAHUBALI 2 has all breathtaking, larger-than-life frames (K. K. Senthil Kumar), magnificent production design (Sabu Cyril), stunning visual effects and an outstanding background score providing an effective support to its powerful cinematic movements. However the collective impact of these departments was much more striking and grand in the original, may be due to a better editing or may be because we were watching such visuals for the first time and here we expected them to take us to the next level fulfilling our raised expectations (more details in the drawbacks).
The soundtrack yet again fails to give us one or two melodious representative songs despite romance being there for a good one hour in the first half. Still thankfully the tracks remain decent and the energy is right there in the title song sung by Daler Mehndi.
The Best Scene (Spoiler Alert)
It has been years when I last jumped up from my seat in excitement, clapping like an innocent charged-up kid shouting “Yes” in a loud voice. Interestingly it last happened in Rajamouli’s films only namely MAGADHEERA and EEGA a couple of years back. And now it again happened in his latest film when Bahubali chopped off the head of the newly appointed Senapati guilty of misbehaving with the women. For many there would be other sequences too, but for me this was the best scene of film coming all of a sudden giving a highly enjoyable shock to the entire theater.
Honestly I found two major drawbacks in BAHUBALI 2 keeping its soundtrack and an over dosage of repetitive violence apart.
Firstly I felt the CGI work to be exceptional as well as mediocre at the same time. In some sequences they were just out of the world, but in a few they seem to be completely artificial taking away the crucial convincing power from those specific scenes. Many young friends would not have experienced or even heard about the fantasy fiction Hindi films based on Kingdoms and Kings made by the South filmmakers in the 80s. But I frankly felt like watching a SINGHASAN, HATIMTAI or PATAAL BHAIRAVI at times in the first half especially in the comic scenes revolving around the coward prince (Kumar).
Besides, none of the animated animals featuring in the film ever looked as believable as seen in the films coming from the west. Can’t say why there CGI works turn out to be so real and astonishing in comparison. The elephants, cows, bulls, pigs and more remain strictly okay filling up the requirement of the script, but never look like anything even close to reality hampering the overall impact. No doubt the extreme restrictions on animal-use in films deeply affect such ventures leaving them with no other option at all but compromising animation.
Secondly, the final hour of the film with the tiringly long battle sequence fails to pump up your blood as seen and experienced in the original film. Keeping in mind the first part and its unique and extraordinary presentation in the finale, one expected at least something equivalent if not better from the team calling it The Conclusion. But unfortunately the entire climax remains painfully stretched and uneven and never delivers what was expected right till the concluding scene. As a result, you walk out of the theater well entertained but not entirely satisfied with the much-hyped sequel due to its weak culmination.
Generating a (more or less) similar kind of impact after around 170 minutes, one neither can rate it better nor less effective than the first giving its deserving due. But no doubt the basic plot and story progression is much better in the sequel unarguably.
In other words where BAHUBALI majorly faltered in its first half but excelled in the second. The sequel pleasantly works in the first half but underperforms in the second.
Plus the CGI department is not able to create any similar amazing spectacle as we got to experience in the first part. In short I personally felt entertained but remained less awestruck in comparison to the original.
S.S. Rajamouli – The magician
As mentioned in my review of BAHUBALI in 2015 (with reference to MAGADHEERA and EEGA already included in BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die List), nobody was willing to give S. S. Rajamouli his much deserving status in Hindi Cinema even when Bollywood had already made two remakes of his films in Hindi and also bought the rights of another to be made at a grand scale. Thankfully the unprecedented success of BAHUBALI forced them to change their minds and attitude, since here only box office success is considered to be important (or decisive) much more than any gifted talent.
Anyway, the tables have turned now and hope this marks the beginning of a new era wherein an exceptional director like S. S. Rajamouli will now be quoted as an Indian film director, instead of a Telugu film director putting it bluntly.
Having said that, since Rajamouli is truly a blessed storyteller with a brilliant sense of scripting full of many timely sequences, I hope he doesn’t get lost in the world of animations, graphics and grandeur post BAHUBALI, and comes up with some fabulous human stories in his upcoming exciting ventures taking a break from graphics. Would love to hear what he has in mind for his next project.
Summing up, BAHUBALI 1 & 2 together should ideally be an alarming eye-opener for both the Hindi filmmakers as well as their viewers, as its time they should come out of their own deceptive world called Bollywood.
Where the viewers need to accept that there is much superior cinema being made in the country in its regional languages, the big names need to realize that films can also work on non-holiday weekends with lesser known cast, solely winning over the box office with their strong content.
Moreover, its time Hindi film industry again starts giving respect, credit and freedom to its talented directors and stop using them as mere Yes-men holding the mike saying “Action and Cut”.
Ratings : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for uniting every movie lover of our country thinking and talking about only one film, which at least I haven’t seen in my life in the past four decades.)
BUT continuing my solo drive against the 'Shameless Increase in Ticket Prices'at the time of every big release, will deduct one star for this spineless act which is neither being addressed by anyone in the industry nor the government since last few years.
NET RATINGS : 3 / 5
(Adding further to the thought, if the industry and multiplexes are too keen to raise the prices at the time of every big release like BAHUBALI, then they should also reduce the prices at the time of all small off-beat films like MUKTI BHAWAN, POORNA and more.
With a hope that Multiplex Mafia, Industry and Government together would soon look into the price issue and save the theater experience fast slipping away from the reach of the common man.