Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

Baahubali-2-Poster

In the lead up to possibly the biggest Telugu film release this year, the question I wanted to know wasn’t so much, ‘why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?’, but rather, was Baahubali 2 going to be worth the wait? And the answer has to be a resounding yes! Rajamouli breathes new life into the traditional story of sibling rivalry and dynastic disputes, ensuring that The Conclusion is every bit as exciting as The Beginning. There is the same epic scale, fantastical scenery and gravity-defying action sequences plus plenty of Prabhas and Rana in fine flexing form. Best of all, this time round Anushka gets to prove that’s she’s just as much of a warrior as the guys and she completely kicks butt as the beautiful princess Devasena.

Rajamouli’s commitment to blood and gore starts right from the opening credits where a number of key events from the first film are loving re-created as CGI ceramic statues – including a torso and detached head with spiralling blood. You just know it’s going to be spectacular when even the opening credits have such exquisite attention to detail – and it just keeps on getting better.

Logically, the film begins where we ended last time, with Kattappa (Sathyaraj) relating the story of his father to Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas). Straight away we’re swept back into the flashback and the conundrum of who will rule Mahishmati – Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas) or Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati)? Although at the end of Part 1 Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan) declared that Amarendra would be King, Bhallala is still plotting and scheming along with his father Bijjaladeva (Nasser) ensuring that the path to the throne is likely to be littered with dead bodies. Once Amarendra leaves for a whistle-stop tour of the kingdom before his coronation, the way is clear for Bhallala to plan his brother’s downfall and even if the story is relatively predictable, it’s how we get to that final betrayal that really matters.

On his tour, Amarendra travels through the vassal kingdom of Kuntala where he meets Devasena for the first time and falls in love. The romance is beautifully developed, from the moment when Amarendra sees Devasena wielding a sword and is completely smitten, to a sequence where, in the middle of a battle, he teaches her how to fire multiple arrows at the same time. It all unfolds very naturally with little of the sexism of the previous film – this is a more equal partnership and both treat it as such right from the beginning. Anushka is completely mesmerising as Devasena and has as much arrogance and belief in her own self-worth as Sivagami, ensuring that the two have some powerful clashes that almost outdo the fights on the battlefield. Here is all the back story we wanted that explains how Devasena could survive for those 25 years chained in front of the palace with her all-consuming desire for revenge. My favourite part is Devasena’s reaction to Bhallala’s sleazy commander-in-chief when he harasses the women at a temple. She believes in swift and pertinent justice, which got a huge cheer from the cinema and totally won me over to her side for the rest of the film.

Ramya Krishnan is wonderfully regal as Sivagami, ruling in declarative sentences and still disinclined to believe that her son could possibly be evil. Rajamouli gives Sivagami the chance to show a little maternal guilt over her clear preference for her nephew over her own child, making her seem just a little more human. Later, she has doubts and struggles to reconcile her perception of Amarendra as the ‘perfect prince’ with his combative stance when he dares to question her decisions about Devasena. Some of her choices seemed a little unlikely when compared to the wily and competent ruler from Part 1, but factoring in her determination to uphold the law and the universal truth that a mother tends to believe her child, her decisions are within the realm of possibility at least.

Another big plus is CinemaChaat favourite Subbaraju as Kumara Varma, Devasena’s cousin. Although his character is initially played for laughs, there is a serious side too, as despite not being a fighter or showing any signs of a courageous heart, under Amarendra’s influence he finds the strength to fight back when necessary. In Rajamouli’s world, heroism is infectious and it’s not just the god-like heroes with super-human endurance who can make a difference, ordinary people can stand up and fight too. The theme continues when the film moves back to the present day, although not so well-defined, but it’s good to see a move away from a completely hero-centric storyline and more substantiative support characters.

I adore Prabhas and he is completely amazing in both roles here. As Amarendra he is fierce and combative, but also shows off his comedic skills along with a more romantic side to his character when he meets Devasena. The fight scenes are superb and I like that Amarendra has a handy, portable, travelling axe that is more effective than expected – it’s also a nice contrast to Bhallala Deva’s more ostentatious lawnmower of death and massive telescopic mace. Amarendra also shows commitment to science and engineering, taking the first steps to introduce Mahishmati to an industrial age with various contraptions he builds. Some of these are more practical than others, but obviously the skill is genetic since his son comes up with some similarly inventive ideas when faced with the challenge of attacking the city walls back in the present day. There is plenty of shirtless flexing too, although Prabhas mostly keeps his chest under wraps until later in the second half when he has to compete with Rana!

Of course, the strength of any hero is only as good as the villain he faces and Rana is excellent as the devious and amoral Bhallala. This time he is more obviously evil and deliberately choses the nastiest method he can to undermine Amarendra’s reputation with his mother. He’s also still a magnificent warrior, and the final battle scene with Mahendra in the present day is powerful and compelling as the two slug it out in front of the massive golden statue.

The final conclusion in the present day is fairly short and seems somewhat rushed with little dialogue or preparation before Baahubali heads off to tackle Bhallala. Disappointingly, Avanthika (Tamannaah) only has a very brief appearance during the final battle and no significant interaction with Baahubali at all. I like the symmetry between the start and the end of the film with Devasena’s fire-walk for justice, but I would have preferred a little less flashback and more of Baahubali’s reaction to his origins before the final battle. That battle is awesome, but also seems to finish rather abruptly, so I’m hoping (probably in vain) that we might perhaps get a Baahubali 3 that does delve into the relationships of the present day a little more.

I enjoyed M.M Keervani’s music, although I was too caught up in the visuals and catching the subtitles to really appreciate the full scope. However Hamsa Naava and Dandaalayyaa are both beautiful on the big screen and I loved the martial theme of Saahore Baahubali.

The visuals are stunning and although the CGI isn’t as slick as a HW production, it still looks amazing due to the sheer scale of the images. Although there may not be a waterfall this time, instead there is a beautiful palace in Kuntala, a stunning boat that turns into a flying swan surrounded by cloud horses and a totally epic coronation where a cast of thousands almost bring down the palace with their enthusiasm for Baahubali. The action too is on a grandiose scale. Aside from the titanic battles, Amarendra Baahubali surfs on the back of cows with flaming horns, rides on an elephant and fights almost without even looking at his opponents. It’s truly epic, particularly when combined  with the uplifting themes that justice will prevail and real courage comes from those who believe in truth. With amazing ability to draw you so completely into his world, Rajamouli delivers another enthralling story that needs to be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate his vision. Don’t miss it!

Temple says:

Well, now we know where all those engineering grads with filmi connections end up…They built the kingdom and weaponry of Baahubali 2!

The thing I have long admired about Rajamouli is that even when I know what is going to happen, he crafts the drama and visuals so beautifully that I still care enough to be on the edge of my seat. It was a big ask to follow up the cliffhanger of the first film and not lose the dramatic propulsion to the finale and largely, he nailed it. There are some draggy bits but they weren’t actually dull so I didn’t mind having a bit of leisure to admire the design and occasional flourishes of whimsy. Finally, a director who gets how and when to use a swan boat (even if it looks like a top heavy chicken), and what a fantasy sequence can look like when you don’t try and make it all from painted polystyrene! I do wish they’d done something about Nasser’s rubber chicken claw hand though.

Prabhas is a delight, giving his characters both gentle goodness and a steely core, with the bonus of excellent nonchalant posing. Rana makes Bhalla a despicable and venomous man, but not completely incomprehensible in his motivation. I liked their dynamic together, and they just go all in on the fight scenes. Anushka is one of my favourites and I was so excited to see her character given some depth and competency, as well as all the usual accoutrements of a kickarse heroine. I think Prabhas can evince chemistry with anything or anyone, but Anushka gave Devasena such a liveliness that their scenes crackled with life. I actually didn’t mind that Tamannaah only appeared to kill a few baddies at the end. Based on the first film, she just didn’t stand up to Anushka or Ramya Krishnan and Avantika wasn’t integral to this part of the epic. I was glad she reappeared as a warrior though, not simpering in a sari. Subbaraju did a bit of simpering and flouncing so I guess he made up for that, with his OTT posturing settling into a more genuine will to do the right thing. And what is not to admire about Ramya Krishnan, who has been a charismatic and slightly terrifying presence in films for so long. She is amazing and Sivagami is a great fit for her.

Despite all the Ye Olden trappings, this is a pure masala film. The classic themes of family, orphans, loss, justice being separate from law, duty, and insta-love are all there. Rajamouli knows these conventions and tropes and he is so deft at throwing them into new and glittering configurations. He coaxed some truly epic characterisations out of his modern day urban kid actors, and allowed some of the old hands to shine. Yes there is some dodgy CGI and yes some actors are less impressive than others but it just works. Trust me.

Don’t nit pick. See it on the biggest screen you can. Enjoy!

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20 thoughts on “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

  1. ‘a swan boat which looks like a top heavy chicken’
    ‘chicken Nasser’s rubber chicken claw hand’
    Hey temple do you come up with these while watching? or while writing? Do you laugh at your own jokes in theater 🙂

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  2. Loved it! Loved, loved, loved every bit of it. 🙂 The spectacle, the declamation of dialogue, the sets, the costumes, the orchestrated fighting (Devasena), the sheer blood and gore at the end – it seemed fitting, somehow.

    One disappointment? I wish they had made this a trilogy so as to give some more play to the Avantika-Shivudu story line. From an interview with Tamannah, she had mentioned the dynamics between her and Devasena in the sequel – which obviously wasn’t there. So quite a bit must have found its demise on the editing table. I wonder if they will ever release a director’s cut, the deleted scenes, etc. I would absolutely buy it! My masala soul has never been so satisfied. 🙂 [Not satiated, mind you.]

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    • Yay!
      I completely agree that we need another film to wrap up the present day. I am a little hopeful that Rajamouli has left scope for this in the way this ended – but I guess it depends if everyone has the stamina for another film! Given the response, I’m sure the producers at least will be keen to continue 😀 But failing that, a director’s cut would be some compensation and would hopefully give some more insight into the relationship.
      What I want now is to watch this as a marathon on the big screen – parts 1 and 2 together like the cinemas have done for the Hobbit and LOTR. That would be so satisfying!

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      • Ohhh… you took the words right out of my mouth! If they ever release it here as a movie-marathon, I would absolutely go.

        In fact, I went solo this time because my husband didn’t want to come; I have made him promise to come with me next weekend so I can watch it again. 🙂

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    • Hi Anu – Yeah, I don’t think Avantika and Shivudu and their story could fit into this chapter which was really just resolving the old family situation. And I have to say, they were not very interesting compared to everything else going on so I am glad that was cut rather than the conflict between Baahu and Bhalla or any of Sivagami’s scenes. But I am almost positive there will be a director’s cut or something. Rajamouli seems to have a well developed content strategy for the franchise, and Tamannaah was filming for ages so there must be more material. And I am all for more shirtless Rana if anyone from the film happens to read this 🙂

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      • Good point Temple. Although I was a bit disappointed at avantika’s less screen time initially, you are probably right that it won’t fit in this part.

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      • Yeah, I know they couldn’t have fit the Sivudu-Avanthika story line here. As you said, they aren’t as interesting as Baahu/Devasena/Bhalla/Sivagami. As I mentioned, Tammannah had said the dynamics between Avanthika and Devasena was interesting – but they seemed to have no scenes together. I’m hoping we get to see them. In the absence of another film, I hope to at least get a Director’s Cut with the deleted scenes.

        And I am all for more shirtless Rana…

        Heh heh heh. 🙂 Did you know the man is blind in his right eye? Just read an interview where he said he lost his eye in an accident when he was 7. 😦

        By the way, watched the Hindi version with my son and nephew yesterday. a) The Hindi dialogues are not a patch on the Tamil ones, and I daresay the Telugu original. They just don’t have the punch. b) I wanted to put my son in one of those catapult thingies and send him far away. He thought the movie was bad. I’ve failed as a mother in inculcating the right amount of masala love. 😦

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      • I’m not judging you, but I AM judging your son 🙂 And whoever did the Hindi dub. I watched the Hindi trailer and it sounded like Baahu was reading from a geography textbook! Very disappointing.

        I just read an article about Rana’s eye – it doesn’t inhibit his ability to smoulder, so more power to him.

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  3. I haven’t seen you ladies reviewing movies together in the recent reviews posted. Another achievement for baahubali 🙂 I was disappointed with avanthika’s lack of screen time too. Tamanna was saying she got a meaty role in the 2nd part too. I’m not sure what happened.

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      • Hi Heather,
        I doubt a third movie will happen, as I remember Rajamouli saying he is done with the franchise, although he hinted they might make a television series like GOT. Also prabhas now moved on to other projects. But may be it will happen on public demand? It is shattering every record at the indian BO. So who knows.
        Dileep

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  4. Well I don’t know where you are from but you’re so brilliant in understanding the south Indian cinema, I’m not in particular to the baahubali 2, but I have gone through the whole Telugu cinema list, as I myself a huge lover of Telugu old ever green classics, I felt very happy that someone from other side watching and enjoying our films and I noticed that you missed two classics 1. Missamma,2.Gundamma katha, I hope you watch them and write a critical review on those two films. Thank you once again for sharing your good thoughts on south Indian film industry.

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