Art & Culture

I'm happy I was part of Baahubali - the film that redefined Indian cinema

Prabhat Choudhary
Prabhat ChoudharyMay 25, 2017 | 20:36

I'm happy I was part of Baahubali - the film that redefined Indian cinema

In the reams that have already been written about Baahubali (movie series), there is one clear takeaway. From now on, we will talk of Indian cinema as before and after Baahubali

Baahubali as a project had a vision of a renaissance man and it unlocked the hidden potential of the Indian box office. Its success is a remarkably simple arithmetic. It has simply added all the major movie markets of India with uniform measure of appeal (the italics part being the miracle).

Every film that releases draws its own map of India in terms of its appeal. Baahubali drew this map, as we know, from our textbooks. It’s the first Indian film that has truly appealed to entire India in one go. In a way, it’s a cinematic reunification of India.

And I am happy I had some part to play in it.

baahubali_body1_052517081319.jpg'The challenge, however, was how do we make it a pan-India film?'

On May 11, 2013, I was flown to Hyderabad to meet SS Rajamouli and Shobu Yarlagadda. And on that very day, one realised that this is a special journey. What was remarkable about these two gentlemen was the clarity and sense of purpose they had. After meeting them, Baahubali didn’t seem a distant dream to me, but a logical outcome if we all were able to deliver to our potential in our respective areas of expertise.

The challenge, however, was how do we make it a pan-India film? That was the question as well as the task. This was achieved in stages and at several levels. And like any other journey this one also gave us few insights.

1. India responds to Indian-ness

Those who are expressing shock at a dubbed Telugu film breaking records in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh are missing a vital point here. Baahubali is more Indian than anything that has been seen on our screens for a long time. If we shed our narrow view of language and see the vocabulary of the story-telling used in the movie, we will understand why this content has an inexplicable pull over the larger Indian populace.

Remember when BR Chopra's Mahabharat was screened on national television? As a communication agency we handle a lot of Hindi movies that appeal to south Mumbai and south Delhi, but they are clearly missing the larger Indian ethos that would make them travel the length and breadth of this country.

India connects through festivals, Shivratri, Holi, Diwali, Baishaki — all festivals were employed as a connecting point for Baahubali.

2. India is not one set of audience  

Audiences exist in various self-contained pockets. Within Hindi film markets too, there are rarely those movies that are performing equally well in all these pockets. A Kapoor and Sons, which in itself is a successful film, can't be compared to a Dangal, and the difference isn't just in the stature of the starcast.

baahubali_body_052517081342.jpg'Stories can best be marketed and sold through organic conversations.'

The content of Kapoor and Sons has a way smaller geography than that of Dangal. Baahubali is a ray of hope for the younger set of Bollywood stars who are struggling with their geographic appeal and thereby their box-office numbers that are nowhere near that of Khans who have a wider reach.

With proper planning and appropriate content choices they can reach out and appeal to the maximum possible Indian audience. A la Prabhas.

3. Hype breeds more hype

Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali? Remove this curiosity-inducing question, which became a national puzzle for close to two years, and we would be talking of different realities today. This question was used as a reference by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Uttar Pradesh elections. The marketing machinery of the movie used that occurrence back in the movie campaign.

This again harps back to the ancient tradition of storytelling. Stories can best be marketed and sold through organic conversations. Like money breeds money, hype breeds more hype.

Last updated: May 25, 2017 | 20:36
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