Skip to main content

Bahubali 2: The Conclusion. A 360 degree review.

I watched Bahubali 2: The Conclusion a couple of days ago in London Eastham's Boleyn Cinema. It was the 10:00 p.m. show that started only around 11:00 p.m. as there were a lot of unsold tickets and they decided that it would be best to merge the 2 shows and avoid an empty late night show (apart from the costs ofcourse). I didn't have any issues with that as I went with 2 of my buddies and it didn't matter how late. I did wonder however if that was fair or acceptable for about a dozen others who thought it was wise to bring their mostly under 12 kids to late night movies. But if you are prepared to ruin your kids sleep patterns by a couple of hours, what is an hour more huh! Each to his own.

Before I get into what I thought about the movie let me just state this - I wasn't eager or interested in going. I did so only because I had great company. Looking back, I am glad I had such great company. Some of you smarty pants probably would already guess my motive behind making that statement, and those who haven't will find out later if you bother to read the whole thing. My lack of interest isn't specific to BB2, in fact my interest in movies has dwindled over the years mainly because of how critical I tend to be. That said, the fact that I didn't like BB1, didn't help the case.

I'd like to break my analysis down into a few sections that I believe are important for a 'complete' perspective on any movie.

Firstly the ECONOMICS:
Let me start with my own personal economics.
I paid £20 for my ticket which is equivalent to about 26 USD, or INR 1600. To put that into perspective, I paid half that for the last Star Wars film, and similar amounts for a few others. I understand the logistics and mechanism behind distributing an Indian film and specifically of the regional languages into various countries, however I felt that charging £20 for a movie was simply ridiculous. I have heard from friends and news articles that the tickets were priced anywhere between $30 and $45 in the US. A movie is a movie, whether it is made with a billion dollars or a million, and bought by distributors for a proportionate amount of money. This could have been avoided if not for the greed of the producers and investors of the movie. By the way to be very clear this criticism applies to most Indian regional films, not just Bahubali. 


I have also heard that several (if not all) cinemas across India showing BB2 have hiked up ticket prices beyond expected or permitted levels, and I cannot understand how this is acceptable. Understandably at an individual level most people might think it's okay to spend extra to be able watch the movie, but if we don't stop this we will end up sending the wrong signal. Millions of people are parting with their money to make a small number of people super-wealthy. The BB2 makers have been very silent about this, clearly because they know this will bring in lots and lots of extra money. We are unfortunately in a world where the majority seem to accept that greed is good. If you are paying more to watch an expensively made film, are you also expecting to pay a lot less for something made on shoestring budget? BB2 makers are blatantly, openly RIPPING PEOPLE OFF their money and no-one seems to care.

As for the economics involved in the making of this movie - wikipedia says INR 250 crore was spent on BB2 alone, and boy does it show! The film no doubt is rich in its appearance, most frames quite grand, and from what the money counters tell so far, it's all been worth it. I know the director SS Rajamouli is credited with not just the making of the movie but also for planning the marketing behind it. I doubt if the latter is his doing alone, but the entire crew, particularly the investors have ensured there's no stone unturned in the build up of the hype towards the release. This is no mean feat, many have been trying to do this for decades now, and while Hollywood have mastered this, very few Indian films have done so successfully. Bahubali definitely stands out in this matter. Not only that, the planning has been meticulous from the hype around 'why did Kattappa killed Bahubali' all the way to choosing the release date. School summer holidays in India where apart from watching a very popular movie the audience get to sit in air-conditioned facilities for atleast 3 hours. Over in the West, thanks to flexible working arrangements that are pretty common for Indians the weekend sets in on a Thursday evening, leaving atleast 3 solid days of shows. The most crucial aspect though is that this is not one movie. It is 4 movies released simultaneously without any other big films releasing around that date. For those who are suspecting I am trying to discredit the success of the movie, no I am not. In fact I am highlighting this as it is in itself a clever strategy. I am Telugu, and I doubt if any fellow-Telugus would like this comment, but I firmly believe that 1 of the 4 languages had to be Hindi for the movie to be so successful commercially. On its own the movie may have had some appeal but the fact that some big Bollywood names were associated meant that the interest levels peaked, and once Karan Johar has his hands in the pie you know he is going to market the heck out of it. After all he is the man that made a large number of people believe that mediocre films like Kal Ho Na Ho and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham are cinematic milestones.

Personally I can only credit the box-office success of this movie to the marketing and release strategy, and not to the movie itself and my reasons why will become evident if you carry on reading.

Moving on to the CONTENT of the movie, which is probably what you are most interested in reading:
Overall I think the story of the movie is way overrated. With all due respect to the story-writer Vijayendra Prasad who as many of you must know is SS Rajamouli's father, it is a poorly written story built on a weak, cliched and predictable plot. Yes there is something clever about the way it has been written. It's a formulaic mix of good extracts from very popular fictional and non-fictional literature making it just about acceptable as long as you don't mind the fact that you've heard it all previously. There have been discussions for some time that the basic storyline is copied from .. oh sorry 'inspired by' the Kannada film Mayura, and a lot of people recognized that. What is somewhat unrecognizable is the copied ideas and concepts from the TV series 'Game of Thrones'. It's like hard-to-detect plagiarism that a lot of university students have been flawlessly practicing for years. Fundamentally this may not be an issue and infact very much acceptable for several people, however I am not one of them. Our writers, particularly since the mid-80s have weaved together many stories for films by 'inspiration'. My word for this is sheer laziness. So why is that a problem in the case of BB2 if several others have been doing it? Firstly I never said it's okay for all the others to have done this. Secondly, as for Bahubali (1&2 as one story) - when you allow for so much popularity to be built on the idea that it is 'never before in the history of Indian cinema', it comes with a huge responsibility. Sadly, what the father-son duo have done is to say that you don't have to be original and that plagiarism is fine as long as you can create something commercially palatable.

The MAKING:
Regardless of what I think, this is the one topic that seems to have unanimous acceptance from a wide range of audience. I am somewhat tired of hearing how great SS Rajamouli is, and that he is a master craftsman and so on. I don't disagree that he is a good story teller but I don't believe his skills are worth obsessing over. SSR has indeed done a very good job  to not have bored a very large portion of the audience despite the weak story and content, however I go back to my comments earlier. Just as the story itself, several of the scenes across both BB1 and 2 have been plagiarized from popular and particularly the not so popular movies and TV shows. May I also point out that the extent of plagiarism doesn't stop with scenes and concepts, it goes on to even posters, and doesn't stop with Hollywood, but goes to some less known Asian films too. 

Again one might argue what the big deal is if they did so, as long as they have produced an entertaining product. 

Indeed, I have asked that question of myself, only to discover that while it may make it a good watch, it sets a very wrong and dangerous precedent. Before you know, several film makers are going to try the formula and almost definitely going to fail in the execution. Not only does the Bahubali franchise encourage lazy practices in creativity, but also sets the wrong standards for others to aspire to. 

Leaving aside the lack of creativity, overall the movie has been made with great production values and this shows pretty much throughout the film. That said there are a couple of settings that are more akin to a stage play, and a complete contrast to the rest of the film. For example there is a scene where Bahubali rescues Kattappa, set amongst a landscape filled with very large boulders and some tall dry grass, which reminded me of sets in films as old as Ten Commandments. This went completely against the general grain of the film. And before I forget, there is something else about this scene that I wanted to mention. As I was watching the beginning of the scene I remember commenting with my friend sitting to next to me about the weird and unusual landscape, and said that we should expect some fire and stuff burning shortly considering the misplaced dry grass. That is just one of several predictable moments of the movie. 

Also let's not get too carried away about the production values, and particularly when you feel the urge to compare with Hollywood. Personally I don't want to compare because I believe it is unfair. Even TV series over the last 10 years have been produced with much greater production values than Bahubali. So when you say great VFX and sets etc, just keep it in context - great for usual Indian films.

Anyway so coming back to the general feel, there are a number of scenes that make you wonder 'oh really? is it possible for a human pull a cart carrying what seems like 2-3 tonne figurine of Lord Ganesha?'. But you kind of get used to it, convincing yourself each time that Bahubali is indeed super-human and that it must be possible. Throughout the film you get used to many similar logic-defying yet somewhat convincing scenes and set in your mind a level of tolerance for such ludicrous things. And that is when SSR begins to insult your intellect. Be it bulls with horns on fire, palm trees that are bent all the way down to the ground, and funniest yet - circular formations of soldiers catapulted into the air (propelled by those genetically modified palm trees ofcourse) and land on the inside of the mighty Mahishmathi walls. To me, the movie could have still been equally attractive, if not more authentic without those unnecessary VFX extravaganza. Yet SSR in his obsession over visual grandeur and VFX goes overboard and kills the good feel that the rest of the film could have on its own evoked. There are other areas where you are continually challenged - be it the geographical landscape or the inordinate display of human strength. The 'Kunthala' kingdom that Devasena (Anushka) belongs to, that was reached by road somehow suddenly evolves into a region surrounded by water bodies vast enough meet the horizon and to accommodate a fancy boat (a pretty big one) and some big waves. Bahubali and Bhallaladeva manage to topple what appeared to be a 100 feet tall gold-plated metallic statue (of Bhallaladeva himself) - during the course of a fist fight. Talking of fists, even some oldies have been shown to possess unusual strength. Case in point, Nasser as the cripple father of Bhallaladeva demonstrates how powerful he is by knocking a wedge off a stone pillar. It is sad that SSR chose physical strength as a means to develop the strength of some of the characters. Given the weak plot, and presumably due to pressure as a result of the amount of time the movie took to be made, the last 30-40 mins has been rushed through to just bring closure. This is really disappointing as I do believe the audience including myself would have had the patience and the interest to watch a well-crafted battle scene towards the end.

As to the so called big cliffhanger question from BB1, 'why Kattappa killed Bahubali' - well frankly it was all too obvious anyway. I really never understood the mania reported about the question and the answer only cements my lack of excitement. 

The MUSIC:
Provided by Keeravani, the music is a disappointment I have to say. BB1 was nothing extra-ordinary either but there are a couple of hummable numbers that I can recall. After hearing for atleast 10 times including in the movie itself, I can't say the same about BB2. One of the songs was extravagant visually with a convertible flying-chariot in the clouds but the music was rather dull. 
Background score was acceptable. It works quite well in some scenes and not so well in others.

On that note let's move on to the CHARACTERS and the ACTORS behind those:
Firstly let me introduce you to the UNKNOWN actors that play a few UNKNOWN yet most spotted common people of the Mahishmathi kingdom. For some reason (and my guess is pure lazy editing) you see about 3-5 individuals that appear on screen each time the camera pans to show how the common people of the kingdom react and respond. Who they are, only the makers of the movie know but it happens so often that you are like 'it's those people again'. 
Does this impact the movie itself? - well, probably most people wouldn't even care, but I am not most people so I've got to say the way I see it. 

A mention of the parents of Devasena i.e. the king and queen of Kunthala region. I don't know the names of the characters (and really not interested in knowing) but they are very stereotypical and frankly don't need much mention. But mention I do because they reflect 2 of the several stereotypical characters that the movie offers. The father is the same guy that heads up the rebels that Avanthika (Tamanna) is part of. Clearly this old man has a knack in training women to be warriors.

While we are in the family, lets talk about Devasena that was played by Anushka. I found the portrayal of Devasena interesting. She is a young warrior princess who is supposedly perfect in every possible way i.e. a good daughter, good wife, presumed a good daughter-in-law etc. Anushka manages to gel in relatively well into the role, relative to the pale Tamanna of part 1 that is, and somehow manages to pull it off for the most part. What ruins the character however are the dialogues. While in general she gets mediocre dialogues anyway, the dialogues particularly penned to show her defiance of the Queen Mother Sivagami or the King's court in general were in poor taste. The tone is unnecessarily aggressive and unbecoming of a 'perfect' warrior princess. Respecting authority didn't seem like one of the qualities her parents taught as they just keep mum when she uses harsh language to express her discontent towards the mother kingdom. 
A big relief for me was to see she made an attempt to show some variation in her character which lets accept has never been Anushka's strength.

Bijjaladeva played by Nasser is a role you'd have seen many times in the past. A selfish, conniving father of an evil son who is forever scheming for ascending the throne. We have seen this, we have been there, we know it is stereotypical yet with his incredible performance Nasser manages to convince the audience to hate the character. 
I mentioned earlier about the demonstration of his unusual strength - while that itself shows over-zealousness of SSR, Nasser does actually almost convince you that Bijjaladeva is capable of it.

Kattappa - the infamous Kattappa portrayed by Sathyaraj who is also a good actor. He does a good job and at one point you find yourself rooting for Kattappa. The role again I thought was pretty formulaic - we have seen over and over again how every successful king has had his own trusted Kattappa. There was an attempt to create some funny moments around Kattappa and some of it worked. 
Arguably one of the 3 richest characters in the movie, Kattappa is very crucial to the film as he combines trust and obedience, and naturally a very likeable character therefore. 

Let's talk about Bhallaladeva. I like Rana in general, and he doesn't disappoint in BB2. However there's been a deliberate attempt to limit how strong a character he could be, inorder to elevate Amarendra Bahubali's own 'completeness'. The sibling of a noble person like Bahubali is shown as pure evil and that he is capable of nothing but sinister plotting and violence. Again this is very formulaic - this is how audiences begin to develop hatred towards such characters and find that entertaining. 

I won't say Rana himself has been wasted because he does get good screen presence considering he is the villain, but he has the ability to show a lot more than just viciousness and a better written character could have extracted that. 

I am grateful if you have patiently read throughout to get here. Grateful even if you just jumped straight here. Here is where I talk about Bahubali Sr and Bahubali Jr. played by Prabhas. I have debated with a few of my friends about who else from the Telugu industry could have possibly played the role of Bahubali - we all agreed Prabhas was arguably the best choice. Prabhas essayed the role of Amarendra Bahubali with grace and aplomb. He is a strength to this film which is otherwise mostly built on gullible characters. Amarendra Bahubali's role has been developed to convince the audience that he is the perfect king (or to be), and done so quite well. Prabhas' voice continues to be a let down but it would be unfair to blame him for possessing such a dull, baritone voice. Even with that he has displayed a multitude of emotions, most of which one would develop a liking for. Trust me I have never made such kind comments about Prabhas previously. BB2 and SSR enabled him to bring his best out, but it is easy to spot the amount of commitment Prabhas has put into the film himself. I am not going to say he is now going to be flooded with pan-India offers but certainly will be busy for the foreseeable future. I hear his next film Saaho is already garnering quite a lot of interest. 
Enough about the Prabhas that was Amarendra BB. I cannot unfortunately say the same of the younger Mahendra BB (a.k.a. Sivudu in part 1). Was Prabhas too complacent by the time the younger role came about? Did SSR feel the urge to give him an overly rustic look just to show it ain't the same guy as Amarendra? Either way they screwed up. 
He could have been pretty normal in that role but SSR doesn't do normal. It's either very good or very bad. He chose the latter and decided to induce firepower into Mahendra BB with the help of a palm tree (yes the same genetically modified kind I mentioned earlier). Alas! that resulted in 'very bad!'

Tamanna - was it Avanthika that she played the role of? I can't remember. I can't even recall if that name came up in the movie. And she didn't last in the movie as long as it took me to write this paragraph up. What is confusing however is that it still doesn't become clear who she is! Why does she get knickers in a twist at the mention of the Mahishmati kingdom? Why is she always always so furious? I mean what's wrong with her exactly??

This review would be incomplete without the mention of Sivagami who is arguably the films strongest character overall. Played skilfully by Ramya Krishna, it is once again a formulaic role of a Queen Mother who is respected by all, except the defiant daughter-in-law. Ramya Krishna's eyes are an asset and she uses them quite well to express her emotions, if not too much sometimes. She is portrayed to be the ultimate authority of the kingdom, and a very strong, principled character too. However all it took was some scheming by her brother husband (corrected as pointed out by Ranjini V K on 17th May 2017) the vileness of who she was well aware, to throw her son's greatness in the bin. 
It is unfortunate that SSR ignored this very obvious conflict in her character but one would assume he just went for yet another lazy yet crowd-pleasing approach to character development.

So what am I saying ultimately? Let me try and summarize:

For the record - while I have some interest in the commercial success of a movie, I don't care so much about it that I overlook the quality of the film itself. 
BB2, like its predecessor is a huge commercial success and guaranteed to give the owners some good returns. But put into perspective - the movie took 5 years to make, during which time the makers, the actors and others could have been doing other things. I really hope they were charging for their time and not on a fixed cost basis. Also let's not forget that the money this movie is earning is a result of exorbitant prices and openly looting the audiences of their money. And for that reason I will say that the real earnability of this film is only 60% of what is being reported.

As for the quality - overall it is a very lazy piece of work considering the flawed characters, the weak storyline and unconvincing and logic-defying scenes. There is some great use of VFX but even that becomes rather weak towards the end that was obviously very rushed. The music is poor, but an acceptable background score. 

That said you have to hand it to SSR for making a visually and commercially appealing film despite all its flaws. The movie for the most part keeps you engaged although you feel like you've seen stuff like this before. But stuff like this is usually makes quite powerful film-watching. The depiction of kings and queens and battles have forever captured our imagination, and SSR cashes in on it.

I am not going to tell you if it is worth watching the movie. That's your call based on your interest and what you hear and read about it. But what I will say is that if you do watch it, please do so on a big screen if you want your money's worth. Only a big screen can hide all of Bahubali's flaws.

adios.


Added on 09-May-2017
The biggest achievement of Bahubali (1 & 2) however isn't the money it has spent or made (and still making), it isn't the quality of the movie or the performances but its big draw to the cinemas. When was the last time you heard audiences say of an Indian film that it's got to be watched on the big screen and for that matter the biggest screen possible? I have to say I come from a different school of thought on this subject. I feel a 'good' film must be enjoyable on a big screen as well it must be on a small screen. That to me shows the strength of the story and the story-telling. I don't believe 1st or the 2nd installment of BB have any small screen appeal whatsoever. I remember turning off the TV after 40 mins of the first edition. 
That said this 'achievement' that I talk about is phenomenal by itself however it is not necessarily a good phenomenon. Since the commercial success that BB2 has reported, we've already heard of a few films that have upped their budgets - Padmavathi, Chiranjeevi's 151st movie, to name a few. We all know that they can't replicate the success due to a few reasons:
1. 4 films not 1: they are just 1 movie as opposed to 4, or atleast made in 1 primary language and possibly dubbed into a few. We all know how appealing dubbed movies tend to be. BB series has overcome the perennial 'dubbed movie' curse by creating visuals that capture your imagination.
2. nativity - BB series have been made keeping in mind the need for a pan-Indian appeal in terms of nativity. While there is no doubt the film instantly evokes a 'South-Indian' feel, it still makes a comfortable watch for other audiences. This is not easy to achieve as it is underpinned by a neutral storyline, neutral characters (including their names), and ofcourse the intent to create a pan-Indian film. Don't forget that not every film-maker wants to make movies that are commercial blockbusters.
3. marketing - this a clear enough reason although with co-ordination and planning other filmmakers can achieve the hype that BB did.

4. audience saturation - let's not underestimate the 'freshness' aspect of BB that took the industry by storm. While we have seen fantasy stories and period dramas once in a while, there haven't been many (if any) Indian films in this genre (and using VFX at the standard that BB did) during recent times. While this 'gap' has hugely benefited BB, other films that look to repeat the success in the near future will face the 'compared with Bahubali' situation and will lose steam. Any films in this genre or even those looking to over-VFXise in the short-term will burn their fingers.

There are other reasons why this isn't good phenomenon. Visuals alone shouldn't bring you to the cinemas. Ultimately content is winner. BB has had a near perfect combination of formula, hype, marketing and visuals which made it a winner. The weak content, and the lack of originality and authenticity didn't matter. 
Other films that intend to be original and authentic should stay so. 

I also realised I didn't speak in my previous write-up about a topic that happens to be very close to my heart - Language. I am Telugu so please regard my comments only in that context. By language I mean the words, the intonation and period-relevance of it. One issue I've had with the first edition and now the second is the inconsistent use of language in the films. The kings and the royals seem to speak rather simple Telugu during conversation, the common people speak the equivalent of today's villagers, the songs in general sound too modern for the period they depict, the background choruses sound medieval, those announcements of royal ascension sound ancient, and to top it all the delivery and the diction by the majority of the actors doesn't match the vocabulary. (Rana is possibly the only exception). One might argue that the language is simple for a reason and that is to allow for all kinds of audiences to connect with it - while I am somewhat ready to accept that argument in the case of the general conversations, the lack of consistency across different scenes in the film even within the same class of people is a frustrating experience. There is also a mismatch between the names of the characters and the kind of language they use. Names like Sivagami, Devasena, Bhallaladeva, Bahubali have clearly been chosen to sound very 'ancient' and mythological, but their conversations are using relatively modern language. All this shows lack of depth in the understanding of evolutionary linguistics and etymology. Most audiences don't really care about this, and that is even more worrying. And a word on the 'Kiliki' language - I don't know the language (obviously) but it did feel like there was some logic to how it sounded and formed. The use of the click sound was populist but in poor taste in my view. There is no doubt or argument about the fact that Rajamouli picked the idea of a new language up from Apocalypto or more likely Game of Thrones for which the fictional language 'Dothraki' was created.

Since my original review, the movie has made another 500 crores according to the news. I am not questioning the authenticity or the truth in these numbers although I have my doubts, but what I will say is that the biggest contributor to the money the film made in the first 10 days are the over-priced tickets. I don't care about comparisons with other movies but the trend this movie will set is not one to celebrate.

I know a number of people have read my blog so far and I am grateful. I realise my review may sound somewhat negative particularly to those who have liked the films, but I want to reiterate that this is an honest account how I felt about the different aspects of the film. My review is neither intended to nor capable of harming the film's success, but one of my reasons for writing this is anger. Anger that BB2 is a wasted opportunity. For a movie whose commercial success was almost certain, they should have been a lot more responsible, and should have had their priorities right. This is a film that a lot of aspirants would look upto due to its commercial success but unfortunately would be aspiring to meet the wrong definition of creativity.

Comments

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You took the words right out of my mouth. liked the honest review .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi 'crybuy' - firstly wasn't very comfortable addressing you as 'cryboy' ;) but that's the only reference I have of you.
      Thanks very much for your comment. Appreciate your feedback, and I hope you will keep visiting to read more reviews. This was my first and I intend to write more.

      Rgds
      Ronanki

      Delete
    2. sorry about the typo in my salutation. I meant 'cryboy'.

      Delete
  4. Can you please ask how the boat with so many holes float on water without sinking in pirates of the caribbean and also how can a guy spin a bullet fitted from a gun in wanted movie. If you can't ask these you are just a slave who accepts everything foreign.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rambabu - thanks for reading my review and for your comment. Can I first clarify that I don't endorse a film purely on the basis that it is foreign or Hollywood. I despised the Wanted bullet sequences and I maintain that. Pirates of the Caribbean is somewhat of a different kettle of fish. I agree the boat with holes floating defies logic however there is some coherence with the overall premise that the film was built on. There is supposedly magic, unnatural living beings and all sorts of imaginative stuff. Bahubali on the other hand doesn't in the overall theme try to showcase magical powers or anything like it. It is centered around human prowess, the politics amidst a fantasized world, but nothing super-human as such. That's where I draw the line. It's probably a minute nuance that one would want to ignore when compared to the overall entertainment but I couldn't accept it on that basis.

      Once again I thank you for taking the time to respond. I don't pretend to be right, I am just presenting a view point and I fully appreciate you and many others may not approve.

      Best Regards
      Ronanki

      Delete
  5. The King and Queen of the Kunthala kingdom are not the parents of Devasena but her brother and sister-in-law. And the scheming Bijjaladeva is the husband of Sivagami, not her brother.

    Why should an epic fantasy abide by logic, realism etc? Would you say Spiderman, seemingly set in the real world, is realistic? Bahubali is more a story of demigods than human beings so the superhuman prowess displayed by some of the characters shouldn't be a surprise. Also, before comparing the production values and visual effects in Bahubali with Hollywood, please also compare the budget. Finally, marketing and visuals can only go so long in bringing audiences to cinemas. If the content was bad, people wouldn't continue to throng the theatres(multiple times in many cases!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ranjini
      Thanks for your comment. My apologies for getting the relationships wrong - but I have to say my comments still do apply. If anything Sivagami should be able see through Bijjaladeva even better!

      You raise an interesting question. Why should an epic fantasy abide by logic and realism? May I refer you to my previous comment (responding to another reader) please? My argument is that even with fantasy, there needs to be some establishment that super-natural elements are part of the deal. Please observe the film in its entirety - do you ever see references that the characters in the BB series supposed to have super-natural abilities? Even the Kalakeyas that look somewhat beastly are depicted to have beastly ruthlessness but not necessarily beastly powers. Calling something fantasy can't automatically be an excuse to go overboard. I don't agree that the BB characters are supposed to be demi-gods and I don't believe Rajamouli or Vijayendra Prasad intended that to be the case either, but I am really interested in finding out if there are other viewers that think the characters are demigods.

      Spiderman is set in the real world but Spiderman himself is depicted as the outcome of a superhuman event, and that makes sense. Actually let's look at something closer to home - Krishh. Despite being set in the real world, Krishh also makes some sense because it is meant to be the story of a super-hero. Now please think about the premise that BB has been set in.

      Coming to how budget relates to production values - I agree with you partially but think about ISRO's Mangalyaan at $74m vs NASA's Mars mission at $671m. We can't on the one hand celebrate how cost-effective technology production is in India, and on the other complain that our quality is not comparable because we spend less.

      Your last point about bringing audiences to cinemas - absolutely agree with you, and if you read my update on 9th May, that is precisely what I was calling out as its biggest success. I didn't say the content was bad though, I said it was overrated and lazy given the formulaic approach to it. Formula works. And the SSR crew has be generally quite strong in making formula work.

      Ranjini - I want to thank you once again for visiting my blog and caring to comment.

      Rgds
      Ronanki

      Delete
    2. With Sivagami, I think the combination of power and ego played a role in her downfall. The whole mother-in-law daughter-in-law dynamic also contributed in her animosity towards her son. Sivagami's own traits as a powerful, adamant, egoistic, ruthless ruler impacted her choices as much as Bijjaladeva’s manipulation of her.

      In a video on characterization in the film, Rajamouli and Vijayendra Prasad talk about how they wanted to show the extraordinary strength of Bhallaladeva, hence the bull-taming scene to introduce him. Shiva/ Bahubali is introduced through some crazy mountain climbing scenes set in a kind of dreamy landscape. Add to it the fact that Shiva almost singlehandedly stops the giant statue from falling. None of that looks realistic to begin with. Visuals like that at the outset I think establishes the superhuman powers of the protagonists and the fantasy setting.

      As far as scale and production values are concerned, Bahubali has been a trendsetter. It has given Indian filmmakers the confidence to be ambitious. A project on Mahabharatha, much bigger than the scale of Bahubali, has already been announced. People here generally realize that Indian films still have a long way to go in order to become comparable to the kind of quality that Hollywood produces. Bahubali is only an example of the quality that can be achieved here and none of us is complaining at the moment.

      You spoke about the combination of formula, hype, marketing and visuals making the film a winner despite its ‘weak content’. I think despite a certain amount of predictability, the content was not weak. Making the larger-than-life characters emotionally accessible and relatable to the audience has been a key to success along with the visual grandeur. In fact the flawed nature of many of the characters including Sivagami and Devasena do not point to gaps in characterization but make them more realistic and draws audience’s sympathy towards them.

      Delete
    3. Hi Ranjini
      Thanks for returning to the blog. Firstly let me say I am thoroughly enjoying your responses, not just for the comments but for the tone you maintain. Your intention to have a reasonable discussion and argument as opposed to seeing the reviewer as 'critical for the heck of it' is a breath of fresh air, and I respect that.
      Coming to your points - I see what you mean about what led to Sivagami's downfall, and yes I agree that's exactly what the message is intended to be when seen in totality. I say totality because while the sum of the parts does amount to that, the transition between the individual parts looks very forced. Sivagami's ego being challenged by Devasena could have been done a lot more elegantly than using misplaced language like 'ingitha gnaanam'. Those words are deliberately intended to invoke a certain emotional reaction in the viewer but don't fit well into the general demeanor of the character (bearing in mind the period the story is set it). Exaggerated and more importantly misplaced and cliched dialogues/language have been very conveniently used throughout the film with the sole aim of instantly evoking emotional reaction from the audience. That clearly works as we are seeing from the love the audience are showing towards the film, but I feel that approach results in an incoherent representation of the character. Just as another example of cliched language in a softer scene in the film is where the dying Amarendra asks Kattappa to look after his Mom. If I recall correctly the dialogue in Telugu was 'amma jaagrattha'. While that dialogue did nothing to a stone-hearted me, I am sure thousands had teary eyes. I on the other hand was thinking 'hmm! where did I hear this before? Oh yeah in a hundred other films!'.
      I honestly don't mean this in a sarcastic tone, but my first thought was as I was reading your statement "Sivagami's own traits as a powerful, adamant, egoistic, ruthless ruler impacted her choices as much as Bijjaladeva’s manipulation of her."? I thought - "aren't movies amazing? we realise none of its real, yet we are prepared to convince ourselves that there is a greater reason why a certain character behaves in a certain way even when the traits aren't clearly established". This is the very aspect film-makers conveniently hide behind, and claim that they leave such things for the viewers imagination. My interpretation (or imagination :) ) was that Sivagami had some of those characteristics and only mildly so in some cases but she also had kindness, love, thoughtfulness and nobility that made everyone respect her. You see unlike Bhallaladeva who everyone feared, Sivagami was respected.
      I don't however deny that the characterisation works in general. It may not have done for me but I know it did for many. My argument is that the characterisation lacks consistency, that is the difference between a great film and a popular film. BB is the latter.
      This response is getting longer than I intended it to be so my apologies if I am boring you already but it is not right on my part to not respond to your other comments. I'll try and be quick.

      apparently I have too many characters, so continuing in the next response.

      Delete
    4. Regarding scale and production values and your point about BB being a trendsetter. This is what I tried to suggest when I talked in my original review about BB setting the wrong standards to aspire to . You mentioned Mahabharata project - there are others too, couple of examples that I previously quoted, and then a recent announcement by Allu Aravind about the project Ramayana. Have you noticed the similarity between all these projects including Bahubali? They, as Bahubali was, are all centered around how much money they are going to spend to make the movies. The fact that a project can spend more doesn't make it a better film. What it might achieve is bringing audiences back to the cinemas as opposed to watching on TV when the regional channel gets the rights. One of the things BB has done by spending so much money is to mold in grand and blinding visuals, so blinding that the flaws become blurry. As a result, a product whose content is only passable if watched on a smaller screen becomes a 'must watch on big screen' film for many. Ofcourse those other projects can be guaranteed to have other issues that result from trying to depict well known epics where as Bahubali took the safe route of 'fantasy'. One other thing those projects don't have to their advantage (yet) is the strength that SS Rajamouli brings in a commercially focused director. A lot of directors are commercially focused but SSR is particularly good in creating something that satisfies the pulse of a majority audience. I guess in summary what I am arguing is that great visuals alone maketh not an internationally acceptable film, great characterisation and strong stories on the other hand have universal acceptance.
      You mentioned Bahubali is an example of what can be achieved and no one is complaining -- May be we should! This is why I said previously that it is a wasted opportunity - because despite a mediocre BB1, BB2 had everything going for it - the hype, the money, the popularity yet the fear of failure (commercially) forced the film-makers to claw it back from some form of greatness due to the use of a largely tried and tested, but not extra-ordinary approach.
      And finally (sorry Ranjini, I am nearly done I promise) - the content that you refer to at the end of your response. I think I've already mentioned why there's been a deliberate attempt to create such characters but yeah they do draw the sympathy of most audiences, barring a few sad ones like me ;)
      Thanks again
      Rgds
      Ronanki

      Delete
  6. Hi, Enjoyed your review of Baahubali 2. The fact is the internet is flooded with biased and forced patriotic reviews of this film, The story is flat out cliche like you pointed out. The Vfx is ordinary and dated in the best scenes and lazy and marriage video level at other places, Bhallala devas sculpture head made of metal floats down the river like thermocol and weightlessly lands below the waterfall, extremely poor bullock cg characters with poor musculature, who look like puffed up floats rather than flesh and blood creatures. Many that you pointed out, The lousy Vfx is too much to count. And Vfx is supposed to be the highlight of this film.The problem is people are attacking anyone who has a contrary voice to the so called popular opinion that Bahubali 1&2 are cutting edge technical wonders with great filmmaking. Ever since a certain party and a certain prime minister has come to power, even intellectuals now temper any views with liberal dose of forced patriotism and the truth is somewhere out in the wilderness.

    The danger I see is that lot of over enthusiastic producers are going to do a lot more Vfx extravaganza movies and destroy the credibility of any decent films made in India. And a lot of money is going to be lost.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Siju
      Thanks for your encouraging comments. You make some very valid observations, and I particularly like your use of 'marriage video level' a lot more than my own term 'stage-play like'. :)

      Rgds
      Ronanki

      Delete
  7. Dude, chill, this is a movie..not some PhD thesis in Quantum Physics...your sob story about price of ticket is well taken but no once forced to you to do that...in the U.S., the movie is still running in Edwards IMAX and other venues (most expensive venues for any movie...most Bollywood Movies don't even show in IMAX as no one would pay $30 to watch a 5 foot 5 inch Salman Khan running around trees)..it means people like it..that is only possible due to word-of-mouth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Thanks for visiting, and for posting your comment. I've not disputed the success, or the fact that people have liked the movie. As I said I was just presenting my view, and I appreciate you are presenting yours. It is unfortunate you think my complaint about ticket prices is a 'sob story' but I was only trying to highlight the trend this is likely to set. Also I did say this isn't something specific to this movie. The trend has already been set in some ways.
      I don't know anything about Quantum Physics but what I do know is that critical reviews aren't a waste of time - we wouldn't have seen many sensible films if not for critics and reviews. I am not claiming to be one of them - afterall this is my first and so far my only review so I haven't attained those rights yet.
      I didn't understand why you made a comparison with Bollywood movies?

      Delete
  8. @unknown, since it's not QPYSCS we should all praise Baahubali? Fail to get your argument. Lot of lousy stuff gets watched by lot of people,
    Imax screening is no measure of greatness. And why should the reviewer chill? What did he do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Siju
      Thanks for coming back. Believe it or not, I copied 'QPYSCS', put into the search bar and nearly hit Go before I thought 'how silly of me!' :) .

      Thanks for your input.

      Rgds
      Ronanki

      Delete
    2. I just made up that abbreviation for Quantum Physics :0..

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Khaidi No. 150 - Chiranjeevi single handedly lifts up this otherwise mediocre story-telling venture

I watched the premier show of Khaidi No. 150 on 10th Jan in London's Safari Cinema. I am a fan of Chiranjeevi, and took pride in buying tickets for a couple of my friends to celebrate his return to the big screen. Let me however guarantee that I wish to offer an unbiased review of the film. I'll probably find that hard to do and realise I might involuntarily show some bias so I can see myself reviewing this review a few times before I publish. Consider this a promise.
Let's get the EXTERNAL FACTORS out of the way first: Chiru returned to the cinemas after a long 9 year break and believe me that felt like a century for his ardent fans. I am not one of those but I did wait nevertheless. Unlike your average Indian hero who is either blessed with parental membership of the film fraternity or a one-trick pony, Chiranjeevi is somewhat unique and special. His successful career and stardom are credit entirely to his own commitment and hard work that several of his peers have continu…