Bahubali 2 Review

“Bahubali 2” is a humongous blitzkrieg of entertainment that will be tough to match in its mesmerizing mix of special effects and content. (Baahubali Movie/Twitter photo)

Dharma Productions present AA Films’ & Arka Media Works Pvt Ltd.’s “Bahubali: The Conclusion.”

Produced by: Shoba Yarlagadda & Prasad Devineni

Directed by: S.S. Rajamouli

Written by: V. Vijayendra Prasad, S.S. Rajamouli & Manoj Muntashir (Hindi)

Music: M.M. Kreem

Starring: Prabhas, Rana Dagubatti, Anushka Shetty, Tamanaah Bhatia, Ramya Krishnan, Sathya Raj, Nasser, Subba Raju and others

Does this sequel live up to the preceding film? What about the (Cliché! Cliché!) nagging-to-millions question: why did Katappa kill Bahubali in “Bahubali: The Beginning?” How much has this sequel (which is for 80 percent of its length a prequel!) been modified after the utterly unexpected and phenomenal performance of the 2015 blockbuster?

In short, does “Bahubali: The Conclusion” live up to audience expectations? The thundering and resonant answer is “Yes! It does!” Yankee readers may add, “And how!” So, to write another Yankee-ism – “Is it terrific? Or is it terrific?”

Yes, S.S. Rajamouli shows the classic mainstream Indian film sensibility in the last 20 minutes, where they could have halved the length. But – maybe! – audiences will love it all the more for the way it is! Flashback complete, the villains get their just desserts, some good characters are sacrificed to enhance the emotional voltage, and the result is one mammoth entertainer and spectacle with a soul and spirit that is as expansive as the breathtakingly lavish budget.

In this phantasmagoria of awesome camerawork (K.K. Senthil Kumar), superlative VFX (R.C.Kamalakannan) and incredible sets (Sabu Cyril), and of course, the magnificent audiography (the film’s sound) and M.M. Kreem’s music (and its grandeur), the story could have taken second, third or tenth place with a lesser talented filmmaker. But S.S. Rajamouli knows his priorities and the axiom that all the technical glitter is generated strictly by the needs of his script.

2017 is known for three sequels that bettered their originals to varying degrees – “Jolly LLB,” “Commando 2” and “Badrinath Ki Dulhania,” but this one, decisively from the first half, betters “Bahubali: The Beginning” by leagues. This monumental saga has been written and planned in two parts from the beginning, making this an unusual sequel that reflects the confidence of the makers. But with the 2015 film and its Hindi version performing beyond imagination pan-India and globally, care has been taken to ensure that the resultant freedom for better budgets does not play havoc with the content and so take audiences for granted.

The humor level in this film is enhanced vis-à-vis the original, the interactions between key characters become more intimate and the villainy more overt. Among the minor blips, the over-frequent (we thought) use of the word “kutta” (dog) jars a bit.

Also, there are scabs on the skin of this film that you would rather not concentrate energy on – like Bahubali (Prabhas) referring to Katappa (Sathya Raj) as a 60-year-old dotard (in good humor) 25 years ago, and Katappa in full action fettle in the present! Also, a sweet, young woman from among the citizens is unchanged in the same gap of 25 to 30 years! These are areas that could have been ironed out considering the creative altitude of the film.

The film opens with the flashback (from the earlier film) continuing. Bahubali falls in love with Devsena (Anushka Shetty) from the neighboring kingdom, but word gets to cousin Ballala (Rana Dagubatti)’s ears, and he conspires to get a vow from his mother and queen Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) that he will marry her. The fiery Devasena rejects the royal proposal and an incensed Queen when she comes to know that Devasena loves Bahubali and vice-versa, ordains that Bahubali forfeits his right to the throne. More misunderstandings are engineered by Ballala and his father Bijjala (Nasser), and soon Bahubali and Devasena have to leave the palace.

How this leads to Bahubali’s death, the queen’s saving Bahubali’s newborn son and Devasena being imprisoned and thirsting for revenge (in part one) forms the rest of the plot. The flashback over, how Bahubali’s son Mahendra and his mother Devasena avenge Bahubali’s murder forms the rest of this king-sized narrative.

M.M. Kreem’s songs, as predicted in the India-West music review, are perfect fits for the film. The background music and the sound are uber-melodious and grand and show Kreem’s unrivaled command of his craft. The lyrics are good, but Lyricist Manoj Muntashir scores a hundred times more in the dialogues for this version!

Prabhas and Rana Dagubatti excel far beyond than in the earlier film, and Anushka Shetty as Devasena shows chameleonic expertise in her different moods. Ramya Krishnan also gets to do much better than in the older film, and her intensity is striking. Sathya Raj is superb as the reliable Katappa, and Subba Raju makes a mark as the nobleman who reforms under Bahubali. Nasser is correctly caricatured and camp. Tamanaah, as the second Bahubali’s romantic interest Avanthika, has nothing much to do.

One feels like doffing a million hats to S.S. Rajamouli and his father V. Vijayendra Prasad for the canvas of their vision. “Bahubali 2” is stunning, magnificent, towering in scale and mounting, a humongous blitzkrieg of entertainment that will be tough to match in its mesmerizing mix of special effects and content. Move aside, Hollywood, HERE COMES true-blue Indian cinema.

Rating: *****

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