Baahubali – The Conclusion is a 2017 fantasy epic directed by S.S. Rajamouli, written by S.S. Rajamouli and K.V. Vijeyendra Prasad and stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Nasser, Anushka Shetty, Tammanah Bhatia, Ramya Krishnan and Satyaraj. The film concludes the stories of both Amarendra and Mahendra Baahubali whilst revealing the motivations behind one of the biggest cliffhangers in Indian cinema’s lore.
I want to use a long winded wrestling analogy to explain my feelings towards this film. There are two types of great matches in pro-wrestling. On the one end, we have the slick, smooth, beautifully told matches between wrestlers like AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. They are immaculately constructed, rivetingly emotional and executed excellently.
The other end which deals with spectacle. The Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg-Esque matches. Watching a match with two men who are larger than life itself takes me back to a time when I was a kid. When just watching something on a titanic scale made me giddy with happiness. Yes, the technical finesse isn’t there and the match plays to the crowds but I love it because that was my gateway into loving pro-wrestling. Because it showed me the world of immense possibility.
That is exactly what Baahubali is to Indian cinema.
In all honesty, I have had things to love and things to dislike about the movie. I’ll get the unsavory elements away first as I want to finish up on a positive note. Tammanah (I’m sure she’s great as a person) is just miscast. For all her worldly wisdom Sivagami is played for a fool with a bit of hearsay. Amarendra Baahubali, for all his regal qualities, lacks the subtle touches required to rule a kingdom. The film goes full “Telugu Movie” at the end (and all that it implies). The CGI in the climactic battle sequence begs for something better. The good but overly loud score and the hefty amount of bloat and logical inconsistencies on it.
Screw all that because I went in for the spectacle and in that department, the film delivers in spades. I mean, GOOD GOD man. The visual artistry coalesced with the rich tapestry of larger than life characters make for a wholly engaging viewing experience. The sets look beautiful, the actors (except for Tammanah) look their part, their arcs and motivations are well thought out even if the execution could have been more seamless, the visual style is relentlessly good and when it matters the most, the film goes all out with pulse-pounding sequences of compelling character drama.
A big shout out to the visual storytelling and soon to be iconic shots, the film has on offer. It amazes me that a film with such a high degree of scope and scale can have the smallest of moments feel more important than the battle scenes themselves. The shots bathed in lighting, fire, blood, sweat and most important of all honor and regality are eye candy in the best possible way. The film plays out as a melodramatic Ten Commandments-Esque story of familial dissension but never once does it feel overwrought or boring. There is something happening on screen, be it drama, action, subtle touches in the background, etc.
My final win of the film goes to its characters. Character names and characters who match the stature their names give them, make for compelling stories. This film boasts of excellence in both departments. Amarendra Baahubali, Bhallala Deva, Sivagami, Devasena, Katappa are most definitely going to stand the test of time when all is said and done. The larger than life aspect each of them carries whilst being relatable to the most common of folk make them enormously enjoyable. My special mention goes to the most well thought out and deftly written character of all Bhallala Deva. I savored watching his every action and motivation behind it.
The argument of technical quality and storytelling finesse vs. cinematic spectacle is one anyone can have till the cows come home but for what it means to Indian cinema at large, for the amount of vision and creativity on display, for its scale and scope, for 5 years of unyielding, painstaking work and for the pre-intermission scene which made the hair on my neck stand and had me applauding (because it’s that damn good), I highly recommend watching this film.
OVERALL SCORE –