Baahubali 2: colossal conclusion of a cinematic celebration

baahubali

The Conclusion is a game changer. Years from now, filmmakers who dream big but shy away from taking that leap of faith will probably draw strength from the work of this team. With part one, this team broke the barriers of what otherwise gets boxed into a ‘regional film’ and took it to a pan-Indian audience, ending with a cliff hanger and the raging question ‘why Kattappa killed Baahubali’ 

There were awe-inspiring sequences and characters about whom we wanted to know more. There were also niggles, like the track between Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas) and the guerilla warrior Avantika (Tamannaah). With The Conclusion, the team makes The Beginning seem like child’s play. They raise the bar to give us a visually breathtaking film that also makes up for a few aspects that were found wanting in part one.

The Rajamouli that ardent Telugu moviegoers know is an excellent storyteller. Here, he gives us well-defined back-stories (story by Vijayendra Prasad) with the necessary emotional heft. The magnificent Mahishmati is celebrating its victory over the Kalakeyas, and its king-to be, Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas). Beneath the celebratory layer, something sinister is brewing. The larger than life palace appears eerie, as though it awaits the impending fall from grace.

Amarendra, oblivious to the viciousness of Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati), gives his all to be the dutiful foster son and the prospective king his people would be proud of. The film is a whole lot more than #wkkb. It’s a conflict of characters, caught in the whirl of palace politicking and deceit. The face-offs take place between Mahendra Baahubali and Bhallaladeva, between the loyal Kattappa (Sathyaraj) and the conniving Bijjaladeva (Nasser) and more interestingly, between Sivagami (Ramya Krishna) and Devasena (Anushka Shetty).

As each of these characters reveal to what extent they can go for their convictions, the actors’ real names seem like a blur. You’d rather give in to their screen names and parts. Prabhas, Anushka and Rana get their career best roles. As the two Baahubalis, Prabhas is still lifting boulders, trees and whatever mighty is in front of him to protect people who matter. He is regal and assured as Amarendra and thirsty for revenge as Mahendra, learning war tactics along the way. Rana is on a beast mode as the dark, ominous Bhallaladeva.

It’s Anushka who’s a revelation. Not even in Rudhramadevi did she shine as she does as Devasena. Thrown into an unenviable situation, she stands her ground and questions the basic tenets of the kingdom. Her portions with Sivagami (Ramya Krishna, once again aces the part) drive a chunk of the drama.

Broadly speaking, Baahubali – The Conclusion is a tale of good vs. evil. Ever since we saw Devasena in part one gathering twigs for a funeral pyre we knew what’s in store. But within that framework are sequences that warrant a suspension of disbelief and an intriguing match of wits. The film has several of those, particularly the events that unfold during the crowning of Mahishmati’s king. A hat tip to the team that made it possible, from cinematographer Senthil Kumar to production department captained by Sabu Cyril and the visual effects team.

The downer in this fantastically-mounted spectacle is the climactic portion — let’s just say Marvel superheroes would be put to shame.

For the most part, The Conclusion doesn’t let us take our eyes off the screen. It’s designed to be a cinematic celebration, one that deserves to be watched on the largest screen possible.