Finally, it's here. Baahubali: The Beginning and my review of it. I'm sorry that this review is about a week late as I had impeding circumstances. But on with the review:
Baahubali: The Beginning is about a man named Shivudu, played by Prabhas, who dreams of traversing up some waterfalls, and after he succeeds he discovers many different people and things, that tie him to the kingdom of Mahishmati and maybe even the throne itself. The second half takes a flashback mode, traversing the life events of his father, Amarendra Baahubali, also played by Prabhas, and Bhallaladeva, played by Rana Daggubati.
Let's start with acting. Prabhas is amazing in his double role as Shivudu and Amarendra Baahubali. He brings a good range of acting skills. Rana as Bhallaldeva is also great. However, the real standouts are the various supporting characters. Ramya Krishna as Sivagami is perhaps the best of the bunch, as she provides such an intensity to her role that it gave me goosebumps every time I saw her on screen. Sathyaraj as Kattapa is also brilliant as the slave master warrior. By the end of the movie, you'll realize how great his performance is. Anushka Shetty, though her screen presence is limited, makes an impression with her histrionics. Tamanna Bhatia is also good as Avantika, though at times Tammana over exaggerates some of her expressions. What is truly great about the female characters in particular is that they are not all some sort of glam dolls or throwaway characters; they are all strong and commanding characters that can kick ass, just like the male characters. Such female characters are a rarity in Telugu cinema.
Now, the technical aspects. The primary highlight of Baahubali is the visual effects. Whenever looking at the CGI, you need to place everything in context. By no means is this a Hollywood caliber film visually (since Hollywood films have far higher budgets), but it is the closest an Indian film has gotten to at this point. For a $40 million dollar budget, it's pretty damn impressive. For the most part, the visual effects never break immersion, barring a few aberrations, and at times, my jaw literally dropped from the sheer beauty and scale of the visual effects. In terms of cinematography, K.K Senthil Kumar, with this movie, has cemented himself as one of the greatest Indian cinematographers living today. He possesses such a great versatility with the camera. The music by Keeravani is good, but it is the background score that excels and accentuates S.S Rajamouli's direction.
And now the rest of it. The story is simple, but like most Rajamouli's films, the screenplay is what sets it apart. The first half was slower than the second half, but both parts move fast. Yet again, SS Rajamouli directs with an attention to pathos and uses the large sets and set-pieces to heighten the drama and the stakes. His direction reminds you of that of James Cameron, using special effects and larger than life scenes to make an impression on the audience. He is truly one of India's greatest commercial directors.
The movie isn't without its flaws. There are certain scenes that feel forced and are seemingly shoe-horned in for extra commercial appeal. Examples of such scenes are the "Manohari" item song and the "Pachcha Bottesi" song. The romance between Shivudu and Avantika was fairly weak after the "Dheevara" song. Although this is a nit-pick, there were two or three shots in the movie that would have benefited from better lighting.
Baahubali: The Beginning is a brilliant visual extravaganza that has enough substance to balance the aesthetics of the film. A film of this scale could have gone horribly wrong, but under the assured hands of SS Rajamouli, the film is brilliant in execution. Eagerly waiting for Part 2 (and if you've seen the ending, you'll know why).
Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars