Baahubali: The Beginning was a spectacle, I agree. And I regretted not watching the most popular movie of 2015, the blockbuster that shattered box-office records in a theatre till it got re-released a couple of weeks ago.
Let me put this straight - I thoroughly enjoyed the movie the first time I saw it and all those times I have watched it again. I’ve cheered for the Mahishmati empire, I have come to hate Bhallaladeva and I’m as keen as any other person who have seen the first installment of the series to know why the ***k Kattappa killed Baahubali.
An earlier piece I had written saying Kattappa didn’t kill Baahubali is a testimony to the fact that I am an ardent fan of master-director SS Rajamouli’s work.
Having said that, I’d like to reserve my rights to critique the movie. Before heading to watch the second part of the Baahubali series, Baahubali: The Conclusion, I really hope I wouldn’t have to endure these four things in the three-hour-long movie.
1) Shoddy visual effects: I am aware of the fact that Baahubali has been touted to be one of those rare Indians movies that used visual effects well, but I’d beg to differ. The visual effects game was poor in the first installment and I can prove it with a couple of GIFs.
Now that I have said it, I wish Baahubali: The Conclusion would not be a letdown when it comes to VFX. I have been reading reports that said the Mahishmati kingdom in the movie was created by three VFX studios worldwide but I cannot wonder why is it that the originality Hollywood is able to achieve cannot be achieved by our technicians.
Shah Rukh Khan’s bombed dream of becoming a superhero - Ra.One - had better VFX than Baahubali. In fact, I’d say Ra.One had the best VFX compared to movies like Baahubali, Eega or Makhi, Krrish franchise and the worst of all, Mohenjo Daro.
2) Blatant sexism and misogyny: The usual counter-arguments that come my way from blind admirers of Baahubali when I talk about sexism and misogyny in the movie are that the movie has powerful female characters, Maharani Sivagami, Maharani Devasena and Princess Avanthika. But on a closer look, other than Sivagami, both Devasena and Avanthika are used as nothing more than eye-candies for the audience.
The way Princess Avanthika, played by Tamannah Bhatia, was stalked, harassed and even physically assaulted, all by a hero with an evil grin, in the name of love and the fierce warrior falling in love within seconds after he almost molests her, says how important women are in the movie.
3) Annoyingly placed poor songs: I hope you’d agree with me on this. As an aspiring filmmaker, I understand how directors and producers are compelled to pep cinema up with unwanted punch dialogues and songs and I realise songs are important in a Bollywood-dominated Indian cinema scenario. But songs in Baahubali: The Beginning were terrible, to say the least.
The way they were choreographed and shot, I remember wondering if Rajamouli outsourced that part to someone. Like an average Bollywood masala movie, Baahubali had songs where there should have been none, say for instance, when Shivudu (Mahendra Baahubali) was climbing the waterfall, the song right after Avanthika falls in love with the man who physically harassed her, and the item song with three women for the two hunks.
4) Junior artists: I heard Rajamouli saying while speaking in an interview that there were over a lakh people working on this movie. I am sure crowd multiplication would have been avoided by Rajamouli and he would have ensured all people seen on screen are real people, but he could have been more careful when giving scenes, however short, to junior artists.
From the fellow who saves baby Baahubali from Sivagami’s hands to the old Rishi who advises Shivudu’s mother to Kattappa’s aides to umpteen actors who played the Kalakeyas, their artists acted and overacted and overreacted, spoiling many scenes.
I know Telugu cinema is not subtle, but come on, when you are making a movie for the global audience, this could have been avoided.
There have been reports that the reason behind Kattappa killing Baahubali will leave the audience stunned and I really hope it stuns me too.