Baahubali: Film Review – A game that only destiny can play

Indian cinema has not seen a movie like this ever before! Rajamouli’s wizardry wins again. Epic poet and ancient Greek author, Homer, is quoted as having once said, “No man or woman born, coward or brave, can shun his destiny,” and this unquestionable truth is what drives the glorious tale of Baahubali – The Beginning. You are unprepared for the scale of what the film has to offer, and the magic begins as the very first scene unfolds. Rajmāta Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) is seen braving her way through a dark forest with only one goal in sight — to save the child she holds in her hands. She speaks in delirium — the future of the Kingdom of Mahishmati needs to live; this child needs to see a future.

There is no turning back from here. The film slowly builds pace introducing the protagonist of this two-part epic-film, Shivudu (Prabhas Raju Uppalapāti). Shivudu is a young prince saved from the floods of a waterfall. He is adopted by kind forest folk, who claim him as their own. Young Shivudu grows up to be known for his strength, courage and his inexplicable need to climb up the very same waterfall he came down from.
A wooden mask comes over the waterfall one day, and everything changes for Shivudu. The mask leads him to Avantika (Tamannaah Bhatia); to love, to a world beyond his wildest imagination; consummating finally in the grand city-kingdom of Mahishmati, where his celebrated destiny lies. This reviewer will not reveal the story any further, only because the intricacies of this mythical tale are best experienced in person.
 
Baahubali – The Beginning is unlike any Indian film you have seen before. The scale of the recreation of this forgotten time/era (though fictional) is almost life-like and you will find yourself being convinced of its reality on many occasions. The film’s narrative is clearly fictional, though allusions to Ballaladevā (Rana Daggubāti) and Bijjaladevā (Nasser): both actual kings from the Hoysala and Kalachuri dynasties – makes you believe an illusion of actual historic reference (at times).
 
The film is made beautifully, and while some of the songs are completely out of context; one has to credit SS Rajamouli (Director) for successfully converting the mythical epic genre into a more saleable mass appeal film. He’s come a long way from Maghadheera and the quality seen in his film-making is eons apart from his first epic.
 
This film only tells you half the tale and so while characters such as Devasenā (Anushka Shetty) and Katappa; the slave king (Sathyaraj), are introduced – their complete stories are yet to be fully revealed. That, however, does not leave the film incomplete. This part does end abruptly, but with a twist, that will surely leave you surprised.
 
Watch the movie for the amazing performances by Ramya Krishnan, Prabhas, Nasser and Sathyaraj and some equally amazing performances by Rana Daggubati and Tamannaah, in roles you’ve never seen them in before.
 
The battle sequences are particularly riveting as are the technicalities involving the fortifications and battle-plans around the city-kingdom of Mahishmati. This reviewer walked into the première show half asleep, and was woken up almost immediately after the film began – the film is that engrossing! The pace of the film quickens as the interval approaches and the post-interval-half is absolutely mind-blowing!
Baahubali – The Beginning might be marketed as a male-protagonist film; the first half however proves it is the women who drive this story. Be it the forest mother who decides to adopt Shivudu; or the warrior (Avantika) with a blood-thirst for avenging her queen; or the queen Devasenā herself: a symbol of patience, suffering and an epitome of the undying love of a mother – this film celebrates its women.
 
Most celebrated, however, is the Rajmāta Sivagami, a woman who seems to be defined by paradoxes. She is the fiercest warrior, the most-loving mother, a just ruler and a woman who values justice, truth and courage over her family and bloodline.
 
Why you should watch this film?
For the incomparable visuals; for the strong portrayal of women in several roles; for the chiselled Rana Daggubati and Prabhas who look good enough to eat; for the great battle scenes; for the captivating story line; and mostly for your own thorough entertainment. This movie is 100% paisa vasool.
By Romal Singh