If the purpose of a review to you as a reader is to know whether or not to watch a film then let me get this out of the way: if you haven’t watched Baahubali 2, stop reading this and go watch the movie. Yes it’s that good.
A sequel to a popular film is always difficult to create. Especially with a cult film like Baahubali, one would think a director would be weighed down by expectations. However SS Rajamouli has taken the loyal following the first film had and used it to liberate himself from commercial ‘formulas’ to create a truly spectacular film.
The film, surpasses its predecessor and is truly Rajamouli’s magnum opus. You can see the blood, sweat and tears put in by the cast and crew to make a film like no other.
Baahubali 2, more of a prequel than a sequel, doesn’t complicate the film with a ton of new characters and unnecessary complexities, instead it builds on the existing characters and allows you to buy into the world they have created. The movie starts off with the love story between the prince Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas) and princess Devasena (Anushka Shetty). As opposed to the formulaic stalker love of the first film, Baahubali 2 tells a story of equals.
Devasena is the strong female character that mainstream Telugu cinema has been waiting for. In the time that it took for me to write this review, I have seen several ‘What you can learn from Devasena’ listicles and articles popping up all over the interweb and it is heartwarming to see this (More importantly I hope people also understand the ‘what can you learn from Baahubali’ part). Instead of portraying love in the stalk-force-rescue format of the first film, Rajamouli has delivered an inspiring independent female character. Isn’t that the right way to go when you have access to such a large audience? Other filmmakers please take note.
With no close-ups of her body or an item number, Devasena is a strong warrior princess who is brave, skilled and beautiful. Anushka is regal and her chemistry with Prabhas is amazing. Both characters move together like two threads being woven together, whether in romance or in a fight. Their seamless choreography adds to the viewing pleasure.
Without revealing much I shall just say that the story has it’s share of twists and turns leading to the death of Amarendra Baahubali. As to why Kattappa (Sathyaraj) killed Baahubali, after all those speculations I’m happy that they decided to give us what seemed like the most obvious reason why this would happen. At the same time it is also incorporated in such a way that it is difficult for anyone to give it away without explaining a sizable part of the story. The plot advances into the future when the son Mahendra Baahubali decides to avenge his father and take back his throne.
Rana Daggubati as Bhallala Deva, flaunts his sculpted body in the fight sequences but also manages a strong performance as the antagonist. He portrays BhallalaDeva’s seething anger to perfection. Ramya Krishna continues her amazing performance as the complex and conflicted queen regent Sivagami. Her powerful screen presence reminds us that this is also the story of the rise and fall of Sivagami.
However no one is able to take the film away from Prabhas who in his portrayal of the titular character, delivers his most sincere performance. Amarendra, the beloved prince of his people is powerful, skilled and just, upholding the law above his love for his family. Prabhas has clearly invested a lot of time getting into character and he shines as Amarendra. In fact, oddly enough, when he comes on screen as Mahendra, it actually feels like a different person. In a film like this where so much is happening, to pull off something so nuanced is commendable.
The VFX in this film (though perhaps a bit much) are better than the first film. While they aren’t on par with Hollywood they are definitely a step in the right direction for Indian cinema. The sets, the gorgeous costumes (and jewellery), just the scale of the entire film is unprecedented. It’s a mammoth effort that deserves praise. I hope Baahubali manages to revive the fantasy and mythology genre in Indian cinema. However despite the VFX heavy fight sequences, Baahubali is at the end of the day, a drama and this makes it a much more memorable film than one with just an hour long war sequence.
There is a scene where Devasena is about to step onto a boat and the plank breaks. Amarendra, only a few days away from his coronation as king of the entire land, without hesitation, jumps into the water and holds his arms up to form a bridge and she walks on him with confidence and love. The movie has many scenes like this which create a bigger impact than the superhuman fights. In today’s cinema, when the script and acting are on par with technology, that’s when a film goes from popular to legendary.