Updated: May 22
Recently, I watched both the Baahubali movies. Again. I, like a few of my friends geek out on it and would happily participate in a Baahubali centred discussion.Indeed, there were moments when we breathed, ate and talked Baahubali. However, while watching Baahubali this time, I actually understood what Rajamouli had done for Telugu and Indian cinema.
The scenes that I'm talking about are the Linga scene and the scaling of the waterfall scene. Technically, both the scenes are top notch. We witness Shivudu's superhuman strength in one and his never say die attitude in another enabling him to be successful. But this time, those scenes took on a totally different meaning for me.
This time around, the linga is the Telugu Film Industry (TFI). It is beautiful to look at, but the praises and plaudits coming its way are few and laborious. Rajamouli is fed up with the few praises coming its way and wants to showcase its beauty to everyone. But first,he has to shake things up a bit. Eyebrows are raised and mouths are agape, but Rajamouli isn't perturbed by any of it. He believes in his story - telling skills and with superhuman effort hoists it on his shoulders and carries it for everyone to see. And when he finally deposits it at the foot of the waterfall, he has achieved not one, but two things:
1. The copious praise which he believes is rightly deserved by TFI, and,
2. Admiration for his storytelling skills which has made India sit up and take notice
Then with the stupendous success of Baahubali 1, Rajamouli has taken on the mantle of being the ambassador of Indian cinema. He is now on a mission to open up Indian cinema to the world, which has till now proved elusive. There have been gallant attempts before, but somehow they haven't brought the desired results. This time, Rajamouli builds on the efforts of those before him and successfully scales the waterfall that is world cinema, by making Baahubali known all across the world. Indeed it was a proud moment for Indian cinema, when it became the first Indian movie to be screened at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
The Baahubali team at the Royal Albert Hall
I first heard about Baahubali soon after Prabhas' "Mirchi" released. It didn't feel like a big news then (at least to me). But what intrigued me were the character posters that were released by Rajamouli and the team at regular intervals. They had a few lines about that character and this upped my curiosity about it. Below is an example:
Then the teaser came.And the trailer. The moment I saw the waterfall in the trailer, I knew that this movie was something special.Was it my gut feeling?Maybe.All I knew was I wanted to watch it when it released.But as fate would have it, it didn't release during the summer vacations and we couldn't watch it then.However, some of our friends had managed to watch it and they were raving about it. The ones who couldn't watch it, began discussing the various storylines.And in the midst of all this, my friend Praveen told me that at the end Baahubali dies and it is Kattappa who kills him.
Immediately I knew that this was supposed to be the twist in the movie. And for the very first time in my life, I felt miserable about having a strong memory. Later when I got an opportunity to watch Baahubali, I enjoyed every bit of it, but at the back of my mind I knew what was coming. There was regret, for I had missed watching it on the big screen.There was also happiness, for Baahubali had set the box office on fire. The world sat up and took notice. Indian cinema was no longer only about Bollywood. There was a new kid on the block.
When we returned from the holidays, the one thing that most of us were talking about was Baahubali. The grandeur, the VFX, the fight sequences, the performances, and obviously #WKKB. Two of my friends, Sai Kumar and D Sai Aditya would dissect each and every scene and discuss what went into making it. I hardly had anything to contribute, but those discussions used to be fascinating to listen to. I thought I loved movies, but listening to these two guys talk about movies, I understood what being passionate was.
After a few delays, which we had come to expect of Rajamouli, the Baahubali 2 trailer dropped. And man,was it mindblowing? We watched it on loop on a friend's phone and were eagerly waiting for the movie to release.
Baahubali 2 released and swept India off its feet. But I still had to wait to watch it as my MBA entrance was nearing and I had to prepare for it. I had also decided that I would watch it only after my exam was over. The self control I exercised then, I have been able to match it only a few times again.
This time around, I made sure I moved away from any Baahubali related discussion. I didn't read any reviews, with the fear that the story would be revealed in it. I would do one thing religiously though. I would check for the box office collections and the numbers were sky high. If I'm not wrong, it collected 100 crores every day for the first 2 weeks of its theatrical run. No one dared to release their movies the time Baahubali hit the box office.
Actually, I was a bit scared as Baahubali 2 was releasing bang in the middle of the IPL season.But that hardly mattered on the D-Day. Rajamouli proved with its success that as long as you are a wonderful storyteller and have a solid story to back it up, people will lap it up.
It's been three years now since Baahubali 2 released. But the hoopla surrounding it refuses to die down. A book trilogy detailing the events before the birth of Baahubali and Bhallaladeva is in the works. The first of it,"Rise of Sivagami" is already out and fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the others too. Netflix has finalised the cast to make a web series based on the books. A comic series is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. Indian cinema will now be divided into two - before Baahubali and after Baahubali.
Baahubali has had its share of naysayers too. It has been dismissed by many as bluster without any essence.Memes have been made on it too. You receive bouquets and brickbats in equal measure. Twisted logic says if you have become meme material, you have arrived. But that is success for you.
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have their share of haters. The Marvel series was dismissed by none other than Jennifer Aniston. Do MSD, VK and the Russo Brothers lose sleep over it? No. And that's the case with Rajamouli too.He goes about his job in the same unassuming way, without airs, his mind brimming with ideas to tell his next story better. And on this 3rd anniversary of its release, let's give it up to Rajamouli for giving us this beautiful experience called Baahubali.