Baahubali Part 1 (The one with strong arms) is an Indian movie belonging to Tollywood movie industry that operates in the southern Telugu speaking states of India and side by side released in other Indian languages like Tamil (Kollywood), Hindi (Bollywood) and Malayalam.
This movie has a limited release in western markets as of now but there is an "International Cut" that is being made as I am typing down this review by editor Vincent Tabaillon of Now You See Me, Taken 2, The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans, The Legend of Hercules and Transporter 2 and the completed International Cut is expected to have a wider release in western markets latter this year.
Now talking about the movie itself the plot is simple but elegant, an infant is found on the river banks populated by villagers living near a massive waterfall in a pretty dramatic way, the infant grows up with an immense determination to climb the steep hills by the waterfalls to know what lies atop of it, and a certain event increases his curiosity/determination to climb the hills a hundred fold, which leads him to successfully scale the hills but that's just the beginning of his story as he finds the love of his life and a new agenda to carry forward, an agenda through which he learns that he's the heir to the throne of a fictional southern Indian kingdom called Mahishmati, which is now being ruled by his tyrant uncle, and was previously ruled by his (protagonist's) father!
I don't know where to begin with but I'll go department wise, starting with M.M. Keeravaani's music composition it's simply superb and elevates the visuals on screen to the next level, the background score are excellent and matches the scope and scale of this movie and it's visuals perfectly to an extent that the OST's acts as a storyteller in itself ! and there are 7 songs in the movie but these songs they do not match the epicness of the background scores but they are good on their own regard and serves a purpose to the plot.
Now talking about the cinematography K.K. Senthil Kumar just outperforms himself each and every single time, I think this guy had a bucket list of shots to implement and he did it all, over head shot, check. Bird's eye view shot, check. zoom in and zoom out shots, check and the list goes on and on and best thing is, he totally understands the requirements of the plot and captures it's essence in the grandest way possible and the outcome is beautiful photography that lets you enjoy whatever's there on screen.
This movie relies heavily on CGI and visual storytelling, as a matter of fact this movie boasts VFX shots count of 5000 which is 2000 shots more than Avengers: Age of Ultron ! And I have to say the CGI looks pretty descent and neat, especially in the climatic war sequence and in an avalanche sequence beforehand but the CGI does look unnatural or video game like at some moments especially in the song "Dheevara" and in an escape sequence where the CGI was below average at best, but talking about sets, Mr. Sabu Cyril has designed the kind of sets which are visually stunning and compliments the scene perfectly, the forest and cave sets which he designed were simply mind blowing and his sets for the kingdom of Mahishmati was also pretty neat but sometimes you can clearly make out that it's "a set" and not the real thing.
Now coming to the highlight of this movie, the ACTION. Peter Hein has choreographed the action and stunt pieces which are right there among the top fight sequences I have ever witnessed on a period war film, in fact I am totally in love with the climatic 20 minutes war sequence and that gigantic action piece is among my favorites and that's says a lot ! the fight sequences are as brutal and hard hitting as it can get without watering down the essence of brutality or pure violence of war and that's a very tough thing to balance and this guy did a jaw dropping work at balancing it, considering this is not a R rated movie !
But the greatest brilliance of this movie is at it's direction by S.S. Rajamouli he simply amazes the viewers with the kind of execution and vision he puts forward with this movie, his idea/vision for this fictional world is simply amazing.
Ever heard of getting goosebumps or chill down the spine ? this movie is filled with scenes that are sure to put you through a roller coaster ride of sensations with just the emotional and visual story telling nature from any particular scene, for example the scene just before the intermission break will leave you astounded with the sheer scale of spectacle happening on screen and the out of world metaphorical message it delivers.
Similarly there's this another scene where a huge bunch of people finds out the true identity of the protagonist and their immediate emotional change from hostility to respect and worship just leaves you like...... I don't how to describe the sheer scale of epicness in that particular scene !
But I believe the true genius of Rajamouli lies in his attention to the tiniest of details and how he designs the characterizations for this movie, for example Tamanaah in her role, was this hardened female warrior but I somehow felt that there was some incomplete nature in her acting/portryal and latter we get to know that this hardened persona is her mask in a really poetic way and that she's this soft hearted girl beneath all that ferocity and anger.
In Indian movies "item numbers" (a catchy provocative dance sequence) are kinda cliche as they are over used for their marketability and generally doesn't serve any purpose to the actual plot other than being a three minute eye candy but Rajamouli gives a clever explanation behind the inclusion of an item song in this movie which also happens to serve a purpose in the plot in a pretty direct way and therein lies the brilliance of Rajamouli !
Lastly the cast, every role was perfectly cast and they were really show steal experts, especially Ramya Krishnan with her role of Sivagami, that role had an extremely commanding screen presence and was one of the strongest female characters put to screen, similarly Nasser as Bhijjala Deva and Sathyaraj as Kattappa they never fail to impress the audience with their versatility and acting range and their long experience in acting really shines in this movie.
And yes the leads, Prabhas in his double role of Baahubali and Shivudu, Rana Daggubati as Bhalladeva are muscle bound hunks and Tamannah Bhatia as Avanthika is a hardened warrior but with a soft heart kinda hottie, they are really good in portraying the true spirit of their character without any flaws and were pretty good at it and had their fair share of goosebumps worthy sequences in the movie.
The movie's cliffhanger ending will certainly make you drop your jaw and the plot cleverly and intentionally raises some intriguing questions in the minds of audience in an attempt to keep the anticipation up for the planned sequel Baahubali - The Conclusion.
- Sound Mixing
- Attention to details
- Visual way of metaphoric/poetic storytelling
- Climatic war Sequence
- Action sequences in general
- Background scores
- Acting performances
- The protagonist and antagonist, they actually perform superhuman level of feats in some sequences, considering they are just mortal men (I could be wrong though, because it's still unclear if these people actually possess any super human strength, maybe part 2 can answer that question)
- CGI and sets look below average in some sequences (but generally they were pretty good for most part)