Bahubali is the beginning of larger-than-life Indian cinema

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There are blockbusters and there are Bahubalis. Move over the 200-300 crore club. Bid farewell to larger than life Rajni’Khan’ts, make way for magnanimous cinema, where the film is larger than its hero. Made on a whopping budget of 250 crores, SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali begins where the other blockbusters end. What would you expect from a film that has already broken the Guiness Book of World Record for having the largest poster of 50,000 sq. ft.?

This clearly means that its basic target alone would be 500 crores, which it’s quite likely to make, given the satellite and DVD rights and over 4000 screens playing it across the globe. Well, despite not being a Taran Trade Adarshalyst, one couldn’t resist talking money here because the scale is awe-inspiringly grand.

To begin with, we’ve grown up listening to those seemingly exaggerated tales by our parents and grandparents narrating about the serpentine queues for days together just to watch films like Mughal-E-Azam and Sholay. We, for sure, took those stories with a pinch of salt. Come on, how can people stay put in tents just to watch a Mughal-E-Azam? Bahubali compels one to believe those tales.

The story of Bahubali unfolds like a fable you used to hear from your Naani, replete with those ‘ghanaa jungle’, ‘jharne’, ‘Mahal’, ‘Rajas’ and ‘Ranis’. It handholds you gently atop a waterfall, just like its protagonist, Shiva played by Prabhas is lured by Avantika played by Tamannaah to the castle above a waterfall that leaves you almost drenched by the first half – a cascading effect to the core. Cinematographer KK Senthilkumar and Editor Kotagiri Venkateswara Rao, take a bow.

If the leisurely paced first half leaves you wondering whether you’re in some Avatar-turned-Mahabharata, the second half leaves you spellbound by King Bhallalla ably played by Rana Daggubati pitted against Bahubali Prabhaas. Actor Sudeep makes a brief appearance as King Aslam, reminding us the director’s previous blockbuster, ‘Egga’ (Makkhi in Hindi).

Anushka Shetty almost reprises the role of Mere-Karan-Arjun-aayenge-Rakhi, but the badly tacky makeup plays a spoilsport here. One wonders why a young actor was chosen to play this role, perhaps it has got something to do with the sequel where she might be playing her younger version.

The character artists like Ramya Krishnan, as Sivagami, the fiery queen of Mahishmati kingdom, the handicapped old king Bajjala Deva played by Nasser, and Sathyaraj as the Senapati who fiercely guards his king, as well as royal secrets in his heart make their presence felt and add to the narrative.

The music by MM Kreem is no Azeem-O-Shaan-Shehenshah to boast of, or maybe the lyrics got lost in translation somewhere and didn’t quite connect with the audience (One could see many walking out while the songs played).

The screenplay by SS Rajamouli, Rahul Koda, Madhan Karky, and Vijayendra Prasad keeps you engaged throughout. Few exceptions here: The underwater tattoo scene, our hero stylishly undressing the heroine and the heroine checking herself out in a flowing cascade are too much for an audience bred on 300, Lord of the Ring, The Hobbit and the recent Game of throne series. One sincerely hopes the sequel rids itself of such clichés, no matter how stylishly executed.

Nevertheless, it’s surely the clash between Bhallalla (Rana Daggubati) and Bahubali (Prabhas) that makes up for the director’s indulgences that keep distracting its audience from the enchanting Raja-ki-kahaani. In a bid to match scales with Hollywood, we somewhere forgot the art of storytelling and Bahubali revives this skill with its each frame, and how.

The audience is left awaiting the sequel to be released in 2016. Well, is there an ‘exclusive discount’ on booking the sequel’s ticket right now? Someone’s already waiting, and believe me it’s not just me alone. Go ahead, watch Bahubali and join the club.

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