Qalandar Reviews BAAHUBALI (Telugu/Tamil; Hindi (dubbed); 2015)

EXCERPT: “What makes Baahubali striking is precisely this “world-making”, director S.S. Rajamouli’s ability to imagine the particulars of every scene to such a degree that this make-believe world becomes real for the audience, even plausible.  Plenty of other filmmakers can focus on the battle scenes and grand sets, but absent this eye for the little, it can all seem a bit lifeless … In Baahubali, this eye is seen everywhere: think of the bales of straw the castle’s defenders use to try and prevent Sivudu from riding out of Mahishmati’s capital on a chariot; or of the hollow (wooden?) tube the hero uses to hold the green snake he’s going to release on Avantika while she’s taking aim atop a tree … or the way in which Mahishmati’s rulers discuss the battle plan in the film’s second half.  At every step, Rajamouli and writer Vijayendra Prasad seem to have thought long and hard about how such a world might work if it existed — and because they have done so, that world comes alive for us.  Compared to Baahubali, even the best of Bollywood’s grand fables –think Lagaan — seem airbrushed, most historicals superficial in the face of its thoroughness — Jodha-Akbar comes to mind, or Asoka — and the less said about wannabe fantasies (like Krrish) the better.  In this it is inspired by the best of contemporary American TV (and, much like Game of Thrones, ends with a sensational cliffhanger). Walking out of the cinema after the film I had a stupid grin on my face, the sort that meant: This too is possible.”

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By now, writing about Baahubali risks getting mired in banalities, about the film’s gargantuan scale, its grandeur, the sheer spectacle it offers the viewer, the whole often tinged with (Bollywood?) condescension (“The biggest movie in town is a southern film!”) or, conversely, (Southern?) pride (“Hey we’ve shown them how movies are made”).  And it’s all completely true: Baahubali is a big big movie, with a compelling story, great velocity, and more fun in each half than most filmmakers can manage in an oeuvre.  (And a specific kind of fun too: this is a film that revels in its bigness, the way Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments did.)

But none of that is sufficient to make the film epic, that is to say, not only pitched at a scale that is itself impressive, but with enough attention to spare for the day-to-day to make the world represented plausible.  Homer is epic in a way the horrid Hollywood Troy isn’t: the latter has all the ships and battles, but the former includes the taste of tears, the smell of rotting corpses, and pleasure in the way things work in that world (things that are, of course, being destroyed on the battlefield).  That is to say, Troy is merely a spectacle (certainly not the worst or least entertaining one, not in a world that includes 300, a film that seemed so wretched from the trailer I never could bring myself to watch it), whereas The Iliad makes its world so real you actually care about what happens in it.

What makes Baahubali striking is precisely this “world-making”, director S.S. Rajamouli’s ability to imagine the particulars of every scene to such a degree that this make-believe world becomes real for the audience, even plausible.  Plenty of other filmmakers can focus on the battle scenes and grand sets, but absent this eye for the little, it can all seem a bit lifeless (think Gladiator, with its emphasis on grand sets and action, as opposed to the HBO TV series Rome, which isn’t short of action or amazing sets, but also helps you get a whiff of the streets, the religious ceremonies, the markets and ports; the former is airbrushed, the latter feels alive).  In Baahubali, this eye is seen everywhere: think of the bales of straw the castle’s defenders use to try and prevent Sivudu from riding out of Mahishmati’s capital on a chariot; or of the hollow (wooden?) tube the hero uses to hold the green snake he’s going to release on Avantika while she’s taking aim atop a tree (utterly bereft of any vulgarity, a delightfully perverse scene in the way it highlights the tense warrior ready to unleash her arrow at the unknown man who’s painted her hand, even as the same man hovers behind her with the snake slithering over her arm: poised to attack, Avantika is rendered immobile); or the way in which Mahishmati’s rulers discuss the battle plan in the film’s second half.  At every step, Rajamouli and writer Vijayendra Prasad seem to have thought long and hard about how such a world might work if it existed — and because they have done so, that world comes alive for us.  Compared to Baahubali, even the best of Bollywood’s grand fables –think Lagaan — seem airbrushed, most historicals — Jodha-Akbar comes to mind, or Asoka — superficial in the face of its thoroughness, and the less said about wannabe fantasies (like Krrish) the better.  In this it is inspired by the best of contemporary American TV (and, much like Game of Thrones, ends with a sensational cliffhanger). Walking out of the cinema after the film I had a stupid grin on my face, the sort that meant: This too is possible.   A derivative mush of all sorts of mythological tropes and archetypes, not to mention other movies and TV serials, a film with huge sets and not-always-seamless CGI (what Rajamouli would do with a Hollywood budget one can only dream of), a recognizably Telugu film yet like nothing else from the industry (not even the director’s own Magadheera), that is to say, completely, utterly itself, Baahubali is a landmark.  And if it isn’t as quirky or the action as imaginative as Shankar’s Enthiran is, it’s grander and more impressive: there has been no more spellbinding, more immersive cinematic experience in recent times.

A tale like this has to begin with a foundling.  Baahubali opens with a landscape of striking waterfalls, and pretty soon we see the Rajmata (Ramya) trying to get a baby to safety.  She manages to save the child from drowning, long enough to ensure he is found by the local village chief and his wife.  The baby grows up to be Sivudu (Prabhas), a hulk of a man obsessed with the idea of climbing the height of the waterfalls to see what awaits him.  When he finally makes it there, he lands smack in the middle of a love story (his own for Avantika (Tamannah Bhatia)) and an ongoing guerrilla rebellion, by the army Avantika serves in, against the royal court and kingdom of Mahishmati, usurped by Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggupati) and his father from… ah, but I can’t say more without giving away a mild surprise.  But if you can’t guess by now that Sivudu is the messiah, the Baahubali the oppressed masses have been waiting for, you have wasted your life watching something other than masala movies.  There are plenty of surprises left, though: in the second half, the film shifts gears, focusing on a flashback sequence culminating in what has to be the longest, most impressive battle scene in Indian film history, and a film-ending cliffhanger worthy of Game of Thrones.  That’s right, this film doesn’t end — it directly leads into the finale to be released next year.

The film’s representation of women is striking.  Both Ramya and Tamannah Bhatia play characters with great strength and agency (although Avantika does become more passive once she falls in love with Sivudu), and the Rajmata is just as impressive in the film’s second half as any of the male characters she shares screen time with; easily one of the most memorable “kick-ass” female characters on an Indian screen in years.  That this film has gotten called out for sexism in a few media articles, when every multiplex Bollywood film gets a free pass for similar sexism (and is bereft of any strong female characters to boot), speaks volumes about the role social class continues to play in Indian film criticism.  Stated differently, Western-style sexism, imported from American pop culture as it were, and to the taste of the upwardly mobile, urban classes who increasingly dominate the Bollywood audience, does not even register as sexism; whereas representations in a more “vernacular” idiom are called out, even as those who do so pat themselves on the back for being progressive.  Don’t believe it.  Is Baahubali sexist?  Sure, a few scenes are — but overall this fantasy world of battles and court intrigues, with its female warriors, armed guards, and matriarchs, is less sexist than the vast majority of Hindi and Telugu films I have seen. Perhaps no scene epitomizes this better than the real Avantika’s entry (you’ll see why I’ve used the adjective once you see the film): the warrior is pursued by a band of soldiers, and just when Sivudu – and the viewer – think he’ll have to jump out and rescue the damsel in distress, she and her fighters turn the tables and slaughter their enemies.  This woman needs little rescuing.

The charge of racism is perhaps closer to the mark, given the long battle scene with hordes of black, demonic/sub-human enemies (inspired at least in part by the White Walkers from Game of Thrones).  Even here, though, many of the film’s critics miss the point: on the Mahishmati-side, the Rajmata camps out next to a statue of Durga, and I found the linkage of the opposing side with the asuras that goddess defeated in Hindu mythology unmistakeable.  Baahubali represents the enemies as demonic precisely because it seeks to evoke the specter of Durga’s forces in battle with the armies of Evil: there is certainly a broader discussion to be had about the metaphysics of blackness in Indian and Western cultures (why, that is to say, “black” stands for “evil” or “sin”), a metaphysics Baahubali uncritically perpetuates — but this is a very far cry from the naked racism of Bollywood “blackface” in the 1970s, or the threatening African-Americans of the NRI films of the 1990s, or the crude mockery of East Asians in films like Kal Ho Na Ho (2003).

A word on the cast: Prabhas is certainly the right physical fit for the part of Sivudu, but his pleasantly blank face is devoid of intensity, and I do consider him a weak link here; I certainly would have preferred the impish charm of NTR Jr. (admittedly he is too scrawny for this role).  Rana Daggubati as Bhallal Dev is splendid, showing us how much fun a one-dimensional performance as a baddie can be (indeed, he looks so good here I was mildly irritated at the use of CGI to bulk him up in his entry scene), as does Ramya in her authoritative role (she isn’t the only woman here to dominate her husband, as she does Bijjaladeva (Nasser); even where Sivudu’s adoptive parents are concerned, it’s clear who runs the show).  Tamannah Bhatia as Avantika made me eat my words: I’ve never been a fan of hers (a feeling reinforced by seeing her in the songs in Baahubali) but she is very good in her warrior get-up – I found myself missing that Avantika once she is somewhat “domesticated” by the relationship with Sivudu, and would have liked to see some more action involving her.  Sathyaraj as Kathappa, the warrior-slave sworn to serve Mahishmati’s royal family, even when he knows it’s rule is illegitimate, was another surprise: he has a lot of screen-time here, and creditably acquits himself in a role painted with broad brushstrokes.

Baahubali has other charms too, ranging from a superbly choreographed “item” song — Manohari, deploying genuine, sensuous, dance moves, rather than the stripper shimmies that too many Hindi films have gotten addicted to — to Sudeep’s fun cameo as the Afghan Aslam Khan (the fleeting role will, I suspect, assume significance in the sequel).  Indeed, nothing suggested the good ol’ fun of something like Dharam Veer more than this figure, trying to hawk the ultimate sword to Kathappa. Aslam Khan is an adversary of sorts, ultimately bested in a sword-fight by Kathappa, but he is a certain type: the enemy who both gives and merits respect.  It isn’t a coincidence that Aslam Khan is from Afghanistan (the only real place-name in the film); that detail situates him within a specific Hindi film-tradition of noble Indo-Islamic warrior-types, “others” the audience is expected to esteem.  (I consider Feroz Khan the patron saint of this sort of figure, both because of films like Dharmatma (1975) and the public persona he cultivated, reflected even in late – and degraded – offerings like Janasheen (2003) and Welcome (2007); the likes of Jackie Shroff (in Palay Khan (1986)) and of course Amitabh Bachchan as the Afghan Badshah Khan in Khuda Gawah (1992) offer other variants, as does Pran as Sher Khan in Zanjeer (1973).  One might even say that this figure’s turn towards evil, beginning with Lotiya Pathan (Kiran Kumar) in Tezaab (1988), is a watershed moment, symptomatic of a turn in Hindi cinema towards the less capacious understanding of difference that so scarred the cinema of the 1990s.)

It’s all a sign that Baahubali is very Indian, with deep roots not just in Indian culture, but in Indian popular cinematic culture: you just don’t see filmi heroes anymore with a playful, even at times competitive relationship with their Gods, as Sivudu does here in a long sequence early on in the film vis-à-vis the village Shiv lingam (this sort of thing holds a special place in my heart, given that Hindi films served as my introduction to Hinduism as a child; Bachchan in Deewar had more to do with my excitement at first visiting a Hindu temple than anything else did); these days, the archetypes of the Mother; the Messiah/Prince; the Foundling; the Usurper, and the rich signification they enable are, at least in Hindi cinema, barely ever deployed in overt fashion (and are acceptable only under the cover of either a neo-Hollywood aesthetic, or the sort of consumption vehicle Bollywood has made its own where mainstream commercial films are concerned; under both, the sign of the Hero is perhaps the only one that is left. and not surprisingly, the feminine iconic mode has withered away).  These sorts of tropes are used fantastically well in Baahubali. The commercial success of this film, including, most remarkably, the scale of the Hindi dubbed version’s success, surely owes something to the chord it has struck, by satisfying a craving for deeper, more resonant storytelling that many of us had forgotten.  Baahubali is magnificent.

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111 Responses to “Qalandar Reviews BAAHUBALI (Telugu/Tamil; Hindi (dubbed); 2015)”

  1. What a detailed review! The other day I was struck by the haunting review of Killa by Saurabh. And today this feast.
    Magnificent review for a magnificent movie!

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  2. A splendid review encompassing each facet of the movie with some very interesting insights in to the “MYTHIC” angle. I agree with you on the charge of it having negligible sexism as i would rather call those scenes the demand of the situation than sexism. And i find it almost risible coming from popular reviewers and columnists who could not discern this sexism taking place in broad daylight than shown in a movie where it also neutralizes it by showing powerful women characters taking key decisions and pushing the envelope for the entire film industry to take note of that powerful characters can co-exist in a movie with out compromising the premises of the movie irrespective of it being female or male! You also made some very nuanced observation regarding black and white symbolic of good and evil! A sheer delight to read fantastic and an original take on splendour called BAHUBALI befitting its stature and grandeur.

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    • Thank you myselfaamir, I really appreciate it! On the sexism, your point is spot on. Nothing that is “culturally sanctioned” via the West is ever going to get called out for sexism in our newspapers (faux hip-hop with misogynistic lyrics? All sorts of disturbing imagery? No problem! But make a Ranjhana or a Baahubali and suddenly the knives are out)…

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  3. Splendid Qalandar! I personally thought this was a much difficult review to write than the Masaan’s and BB, because of the sheer spectacle this movie is. So much is already said about this film that to put it all together in a non repetitive and sumptuous way is truly an achievement.
    I will eat my words when I said that I am not looking forward to this review 🙂

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  4. Qalandar,

    This is an absolutely brilliant write up on the film. Thanks for writing about the role of social class on film criticism. A lot of people shy away from it or are simply blind to it. It’s an extremely important issue.

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  5. Awesome! This is the one I was waiting for. However I will read it after watching the film today. And for the Bajrangi fans out there I’ll be watching this over the weekend. My first Salman film in the theaters in 15 years or so! WOM does matter!

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  6. omrocky786 Says:

    Wah Kalam Wah, oops I mean Wah Qalandar wah !!
    Being rooted in the Indian culture does matter and shows in your review.

    “SPOILER ALERT “-

    P.S.- Can you please please tell me Kattappa ney Bahubali ko kyon Maara ??

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Going in, I thought that Rana Duggubatti would be bahubali and when I saw Prabh , I was surprised as I did not recognize/ heard of him.

      Later my Andhra friend explained the history of D Ramanaidu, his two sons, Suresh Productions and Prabh being one of the grandsons etc., and how he is a bigger star than Rana.

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      • Rocky’s comment (edited for spoiler): “Wah Kalam Wah, oops I mean Wah Qalandar wah !!
        Being rooted in the Indian culture does matter and shows in your review.”

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        • That comment is doing the rounds..I saw it when PM posted picture with Baahubali team.

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Where do you think I got the q from ? the latest one doing the rounds is that Yakub wanted to live till the second part so that he knows the answer …
            I had read the question before I saw the movie but did not remember it while watching the movie

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          • I saw Maghdeera (hindi with 600K views) on youtube. So thinking similar story line: My guess: in part 2: Rana and Prabhas will be in love with same girl-Devasena (the lady in chains in part1). But being non-royal, Prabhas will have to let go of the crown. Then Rana, the new king, will kill Bahubali-the father and chain Devasena. The royal guard Kattapa, will be loyal to the crown, hence he will do whatever Rana tells him and out of duty, he will do the deed (no spoilers revealed). So Bahu has shades of ramayana, mahabharata, Eklavya, Raavaan (all the waterfall scene) etc etc but it being none of those, per se. I love the masala “plot” and the script.

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          • It is like ISI approval! Satyam watching Baahubali and also liking it.

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          • Baahubali Hindi had an extraordinary hold in its third week as the drop from the previous week was hardly 20%. The film has grossed 90 crore nett in three weeks and will cross the 100 crore nett mark. The business in Mumbai circuit will cross 40 crore nett for the Hindi version which is more than all the outright Hindi films released this year apart from bajrangi Bhaijaan. The weekly business of Baahubali in Hindi till date is as follows.

            Week 1 – 42,91,00,000

            Week 2 – 25,87,00,000

            Week 3 – 21,00,00,000 apprx.

            Boxofficeindia

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          • mumbai alone is 40 cr…………..i think this film needed more acceptance all over the country

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          • Bajrangi bhaijan does or not but bahubali including all languages has definitely crossed Pk all india bo. But boi will never admit it. Even enthiran was never mentioned again after boi confirmed 186 cr nett in 4 weeks all india nett including all languages. South films have long run and i am sure enthiran crossed 3i for sure.

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          • They will find some excuse like zero entertainment tax in its native state or some such thing.

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          • ohhh Please.

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      • To get the answer you will have to watch VVC’s Eklavya…hahaha

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      • Prabhas isn’t related to Ramanaidu if that’s what you’re saying. Rana is Ramanaidu’s grandson. Prabhas, on the other hand, is Krishnam Raju’s nephew. Krishnam Raju was also a telugu film star in the 60s and 70s. He started off as a villain and later turned into a hero. Out of the two families, Rana’s family is much more influential. But he hasn’t been able to deliver any hits as a solo lead. Prabhas is a much bigger star. He isn’t the best actor but he has a big mass following somewhat like Salman Khan because he does mainly action films.

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    • No one knows!!!! We have to wait for part 2. I think we need to delete your comment as it might give the game away for folks 🙂

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    • Thank you sirjee!

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  7. Qalandar: Sir, how the bloody hell have you managed to top your Masaan piece here. What an incredible write-up here. And who could have thought of Palay Khan (I was also thinking of Bachchan’s “Ajooba” on the same lines even if Ajooba is more Indo-Islamic “Dharamveer” than Baahubali) here. This review is an embarrassment of riches. You have managed to think the unthought here.

    [edited]

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    • Saurabh, this is one of your best pieces, at least of the ones that I have read: you are better on the film’s action sequences than anyone else I have read, and the point about the physical locales is also spot on — very perceptive…

      PS — you are surprised someone remembers Palay Khan but I am kicking myself for having missed out Ajooba!

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    • Fantastic comment Saurabh, specially the final paragraph. I think Rajamouli captures that waterfall splendor like no one else I can think of in Indian cinema. On that important climactic battle check out Red Cliff and you’ll see some of where this film gets its cues from. In fact and though I enjoyed Red Cliff Rajamouli makes me realize even more what the problem with that film was. I should also add another point that even though the CGI at many points ‘reveals’ itself (to put it kindly!) Rajamouli’s vision here is so overpowering that nothing else seems to matter. And in fairness the CGI looks problematic in a lot of those Chinese period pieces too. No one does it like Hollywood so far. There were also a few significant lighting issues at points but these are minor cavils. But both you and Qalandar are right. Rajamouli succeeds in creating a completely entrancing world and this is always hard to achieve. And somewhat polemically I’d add that this masala uniqueness of Indian cinema is something that Bollywood is more or less divorced from. No director there who’s as steeped in the culture to even begin to attempt it. And again you also have to take it seriously. Bahubali is a good example of everything I’ve tried to argue for over the years against other kinds of Telugu masala or even Hindi versions that have a constant tongue-in-cheek attitude or at least one of ironic detachment. The cathartic element was central even to most of Desai films that were structurally ‘comedies’. And one doesn’t have to be limited to these options. everything doesn’t have to be a grand spectacle or whatever. But the epic framework (in the most ancient sense) was accessible in the masala of the 70s and the loss of this has been most unfortunate. Other genres can certainly be tried out but there are elements here that are particularly suited to cinema and that make it still the most potent of genres when handled right. And here what’s nice about Bahubali is that for all the borrowings and so forth it is still a very Indian mix. You couldn’t confuse this film for anything else. It’s amusing to see those who have a certain condescension for masala embrace Bahubali so whole-heartedly. or for that matter something like Bajrangi. But then these same folks were also embracing the worst examples of Telugu masala much earlier.

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      • Re: “But the epic framework (in the most ancient sense) was accessible in the masala of the 70s and the loss of this has been most unfortunate. Other genres can certainly be tried out but there are elements here that are particularly suited to cinema and that make it still the most potent of genres when handled right.”

        This neatly sums up the crux of the matter. A lot of times people seem to confuse this sort of championing of masala with a kind of nostalgia (“hey every generation thinks THEIR films are the best!”) but this is a weak weak misreading: masala matters because the epic mode matters, and it has withered away (there are other ways of tapping into the epic mode, but in Indian cinema masala has been that vehicle and none other credible mode has surfaced (the likes of Vishal Bhardwaj deploy motifs, but don’t get under that skin)). And in a context where we are reading less and less, folks are increasingly transitioning to an audio-visual culture (where the Mahabharata might exist as a TV serial rather than anything else) cinema is the last best hope. Hence the stakes are, and always have been, high (with me, for instance, masala is not about nostalgia at all, since I was born too late for Bachchan’s or Desai’s heyday — I just never could accept the degraded cinema the industry was selling after I’d seen the best of what popular Hindi cinema could be; I mean once one has seen the best films of 1977 or 1978 (say AAA or Trishul), to be told that times change and we should just accept that Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Bang Bang is about as good as it ever can be is absurd; that isn’t relativism, just low standards). I’d even disagree with Saurabh a bit about Baahubali’s absence of overt politics: in my view that is not a sine qua non of masala; in the best cinematic traditions, the sub-text is organically present (think Amar Akbar Anthony), but it has to be repressed a bit: if it is present too obviously (e.g. Ganga ki Saugandh) then the resulting film might even be inferior, because it is less seamless. Stated differently, the more overtly the political (in the sense of what’s making headlines in the newspapers) is deployed, the less the masala movie is able to function as epic: because the timelessness that mode aspires to risks being compromised…

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        • Excellent point on the political aspect of masala. I’d even go further. Masala depends on the politics never being presented in any very precise sense because the ultimate stakes are always a bit ‘cosmic’. In other words of course the narratives are about the here and now. They are also not abstract or vague in terms of representing the ‘political’. But again in keeping with those epic registers they usually reference not necessarily precise events but archives and histories that have unfolded over much longer stretches of time. or better still the present moment usually offers the occasion to engage in questions that necessarily transcend the immediate coordinates of any age. Here I’d disagree on Ganga ki saugandh. This is an age old village-bumpkin-turned-dacoit story that then implicates a Desai like secular ideal on the one hand but is also about a story of oppression that is centuries old or more. Obviously the very fact that there is a ‘revolution’ here (the dacoit takes up arms) suggests we are at a certain inflection point in Indian history and politics but it is otherwise not doing more than this. This is exactly the lesson of ‘epic’. There are as you know important socio-political histories encoded in the Mahabharata digging up which is often the work of scholars. But the epics work without such knowledge because those actual references are not fully meaningful till they can be added in the larger ‘cosmic’ narrative.

          Now in terms of identity politics we see in Desai how a present day Indian reality and certainly as idealized by Desai is made to merge with epic echoes from the past. But Desai’s is once again a secular world because it very much eschews the transcendence of that history (for the most part, not always.. there are important exceptions like Suhaag and Coolie.. but even these are qualified ones). And this decision is completely understandable because while Desai can perform a Shakespearean mix of the high and low when he ventures into these historical neverlands (Dharam Veer) and deny any real transcendence even within this framework he cannot incorporate the AAA coordinates in these lands ‘far far away’ very easily and for reasons easy to guess. It is not coincidental therefore that he never repeated Dharam Veer and even when he did period again with Mard he set it in British India which was about as contemporary as he could get in a ‘historical’. And even on this score one could contrast this with kranti (a film that I adore) and notice how different the stakes are. 1857 allows a certain mythologization and certainly the film’s mode makes a dark fairy tale or myth out of this history. Mard on the other hand could be taking place in contemporary India. There is no real ‘metaphysical’ distinction between this and AAA.

          And here again the Rajamouli framework is interesting. he has the Sudeep character early on. He might have more of him in the second half. But in any case he makes this effort in a film which does not really call for it. Again though Rajamouli keeps the historical period abstract one gets the sense of a very ancient tale by virtue of its absolute mythic quality. In other words the Muslim traveler might suggest a more medieval period but the film otherwise never seems as current as that. It seems to exist in the ‘deep recesses of time’. Which is of course what gives it a lot of its power. But all of this then seems to pre-date the minority representation here. It could easily be avoided. But Rajamouli insists on it and of course uses an important star for the part so that one doesn’t miss this (certainly this wouldn’t be in the South, in many parts at least). What then might have been a problem for Desai is evaded by Rajamouli and he performs this move by keeping his story outside the folds of history-as-such. Which again is the truest epic mode. The archives generated by the same must always punctuate history without ever being reducible to any such point in the more precise sense. Once more I’d be very interested in seeing how Rajamouli handles all of this in the second part. And again this is why and despite my qualified dissent I do not have a problem with the film as such on that score.

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          • Re: “…he has the Sudeep character early on. He might have more of him in the second half.”

            Yeah, given Sudeep’s parting comment to Kathappa — that if he ever needs him he should summon him — I assume Aslam Khan and his forces might be needed to help in the defeat of Bhallal Dev & co. But it is true that, charming though this interlude is, it’s too “historical” for the rest of the film, almost jarring. It’s forced — but as you said, telling, because Rajamouli wants to evoke a specific cinematic tradition here…

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          • Re: “Here I’d disagree on Ganga ki saugandh. This is an age old village-bumpkin-turned-dacoit story that then implicates a Desai like secular ideal on the one hand but is also about a story of oppression that is centuries old or more.”

            Perhaps my point would be clearer if we contrast Ganga ki Saugandh with Ghulami — the latter more easily fits within your description (it makes only generic references to landlords and peasants, although of course these references would be understood in a very specific sense depending on the milieu); with Ganga ki Saugandh, this generic “epic” framework tries to incorporate the specific emerging political formations in UP at the time (consider the symbolism of the Brahmin character (played by Amitabh) at the head of some kind of Dalit-Muslim alliance (overthrowing the wicked thakur is the objective). Definitely epic too, but the framework is a bit creakier here, because there is almost too much “topicality” here. [Not a fatal flaw, given the film’s specific concerns; my point is that it makes for a more dated film in some ways…]

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          • Fair enough on GKS though I’m not sure if I’d take the Ghulami contrast. this film is not really committed to the ‘cosmic’ epic framework in the same sense. I’d say this is more properly a political film. It is post-epic in the mythological sense of that word. Not least because it’s a visionary work. One could almost say with some exaggeration that Ghulami depends on the chapter being closed on that sort of epic resonance. There are traces that nonetheless inhabit this world. The gestural in this film can certainly be indexed using such an archive. On the other hand the same traces have to be kept at a distance because the ‘epic’ mode becomes suspicious in the world of this film as being complicit with the same power structures that have to be overturned as a political project.

            But here one could once again connect all of this with Bahubali by way of a detour. In one sense Ghulami reflects its times or an age when the Right was becoming ascendant in Indian politics even if this wasn’t obvious just then as a parliamentary matter. But I’ll get back to this in a minute. The point people often forget is that the category of the minority in Desai is not simply the celebration of a Nehruvian dream (though it is that too). It is equally about the re-configuring of an epic landscape where the minority in the religious sense is ‘like’ those minorities (lower castes, tribals etc) already present in the ‘original’ texts. And ‘original’ is of course a problematic term within the context of a work (the Mahabharata before all else) that is less book (representing a fixed point in time) and more tradition as already re-interpreted at various points. The work already contains that dialog across time. Which is why it incorporates different identities and so forth often in ways that are not completely seamless. Which of course is a manner of reinvention that the epic tradition is always about. Whether it’s one author giving his twist to a well known narrative or different authors/editors contributing at various points or whether it’s about those alternative traditions (‘many ramayanas’ or whatever) that engender other canonical versions (Kamban) that don’t simply introduces twists in the tale but seek to reinterpret it completely through the prism of their own identity politics.. all of this leads to a work that is corpus far more than book (in any simplistic sense). Once more epic then becomes a mode of constant reinvention and therefore different historical layers are embedded within it. for the same reason it always comes equipped with its minorities. The ‘Muslim’ or the ‘Christian’ in Desai world is not an absolute reference but a figure for the minority-as-such across time, religious or ethnic or otherwise. Much as his Nehruvian formulations are a way of translating the tensions of the very same epic mode in his present.

            All of this is very different from a Right-oriented imagining of the past that essentially nullifies all such complexity and nuance and tries to present the same as boringly uniform and really not much more than a mythologized Rajasthan-inspired martial establishment class (this is not even true to the history of Rajasthan but that’s another matter) and always the mirror image of a monomaniacal ‘outsider’ (the follower of a Biblical religion.. the Muslim conqueror, the British colonizer). Leaving aside the political debates one might have around such a ‘vision’ it is anything but true to the epic mode in even the loosest sense. Because the Mahabharata for instance (always a privileged example for masala) is simply too capacious a work, too large a universe to be reduced to any such simple and exclusive vision). One could say this even limiting oneself just to the most canonical version. And so once again the Desai universe is possible precisely because he is a good reader of epic! But he is also sharp and subversive in his own way. The films have to be comedies (for the most part) because it would be a bit odd to take epic literally in the contemporary world. for the same reason Rajamouli has to locate his work in some neverland. Or for that matter there is the Shankar split — a constant tension between a repressed epic mode and the all too mundane technologized present. Only weak contemporary masala directors try to take on the epic mode directly. This often results in a gesturality that is almost the other side of caricature or else it leads to a disturbing sort of vigilante trope in the name of justice. Ghulami at any rate offers a response to this more claustrophobic view of the past.

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          • and to add to that point this is why Bachchan can play both religious minorities and the economically depressed with equal ease. Both groups represent minorities in terms of the existing power apparatus even if the latter isn’t so of course in terms of number. I have often referred to a Vijay myth but there is also a concert here with Vijay and Anthony and so on.. all various figures of the same ‘minority’. But in a move Zizek might approve of even if results in lesser cinema there is a more properly Marxist turn taken in the one man industry 80s phase. If initially it’s about being one religious minority or another or being a majority representative in a very ambiguous or complicated way (the Deewar example is iconic but to repeat myself.. Vijay refuses to go to the temple.. he’s not an atheist.. he has a quarrel with his god.. on the other hand he’s quite happy to believe in the talismanic qualities of an ‘other’ god.. in fact this then forms the film’s reality.. his original God can potentially kill his mother but it is only the new one who can kill him.. and so when he loses the badge/amulet he dies.. of course for all this he’s never quite shown anywhere near a mosque.. the Islamic religion therefore exists here in a folkloric way.. the old dockworker telling him this story and so on.. and one might argue that this is problematic in certain ways.. in any case this is the film’s reality.. it is not just about Bachchan’s belief.. he literally dies when he loses the badge..] eventually it’s about just belonging to the lumpen masses more truly. But here too things are complicated. On the one hand Bachchan plays tax driver and coolie and waiter and the ultimate ‘excluded’ in Lawaaris. On the other hand he never plays a dockworker or factory worker or coal-miner or whatever after the 70s. Which is of course the more relevant political configuration in the same Marxist sense. But getting back to Ghulami notice how Coolie in this context offers the ultimate Desai response. It’s not a film I like very much for all sorts of reasons but it certainly ‘completes’ the Deewar project by removing the ambiguity of that film’s identity politics. This too makes Coolie far less interesting but again within the changing political and cultural winds of the 80s you have Coolie’s climactic sequence which is as extraordinary a moment as one is likely to encounter anywhere in Indian commercial cinema. Bachchan literally reciting the ‘kalima’ and writing it in his blood. He’s of course covered with that cloth as well. It’s an incredible moment even if it’s not one the film earns otherwise. Because the film has these grand moments (Bachchan’s entry scene for example) but is otherwise content to be the most lowbrow sort of comedy.

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          • Satyam: your comments here are extraordinarily rich and provocative; they demand engagement at some depth, and I’ll have to mull these…

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  8. Qalanderji, what a beautiful piece of masala writeup! Now I have the exact reasons of why I had liked bahubali so much! In hurry…will be back with more.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Re.- In hurry…will be back with more.
      I can hear Satyam yelling- ” Naaaheeeen ” !! LOL !
      P.S. – yours and Satyam’s arguments remind me of Tango/ Abid and Satyam @ NG.

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  9. Few quick points:
    * Mahismati is actual name and apparently there is real history there (had posted the blog link somewhere detailing this)
    *There is actual african tribe that talks in clicks and there is face painting involved e.g. even in braveheart with Mel Gibson. It is not necessarily a comment on race. In war scene if you don’t put some features on the enemy crowd, as audience, how else are we to identify two armys. Koi sport hota toh uniform sey pata chal jata. So that is also cinematic license/liberty rather than a comment on race, IMO.
    *a gori-chitti tamanah/heroine is more of racism to me than the enemy with face paint. However devasena in part two is going to be all (south) indian, so it is not that blatant.
    * I also loved detailing: for instance, I could “feel” them walking on hand made shoes and there were so many scene that my eyes actually went to the shoe (I noticed Avantika’s shoes, Prabhas shoes) etc

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  10. I will put up a long comment on this later but Bahubali is an utterly incredible film. One of the most thrilling cinematic experiences of my life.

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  11. Some v good pieces here
    But unfortunately none of these, bahubali, masaan, kills playing near me..so coudnt read these

    Btw high time Satyam rises above being just a moderator and creates some writeups that can match these ..
    Satyam is getting left behind unfortunately and seen usually quabbling with/about the likes of BOI, taran, nahata
    Speaking as a well wisher..

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  12. Qalandar, your piece is as good as the film. There is really nothing more one could say here. I was simply blown away by the film. It’s easily a landmark in Indian commercial cinema. Gripping from beginning to end. I could have seen 5 hrs of this stuff! It also puts Bollywood to shame in every sense. With vastly greater resources there’s simply no director there who has this vision and the immersion in Indian popular culture that a subject like this begs for. For anyone who’s seen the full length Red Cliff this film is inspired from that in certain respects but it’s a far far better film. Contemporary Chinese epics often tend to be plastic in this sense even when they’re otherwise compelling. Red Cliff was certainly fun but it too seemed synthetic in certain respects. But Rajamouli has made a proper ‘flesh and blood’ film without forgetting any of the masala passions! It would be a crime to miss this on the big screen and I almost came close to committing such a sin myself!

    But by way of a minor dissent I’d nonetheless say this. It’s also a very uncomplicated film. In other words Rajamouli has all the references here and his film really belongs to the best traditions of masala in this sense. Equally it is regressive on exactly those points that some of those films used to be. But Rajamouli has contented himself with making grand spectacle with tremendous narrative momentum and all the emotional hooks of the best masala efforts. And in the very same way it’s also a true film. But Desai’s Dharam Veer (which you too have referenced) is useful here. Desai essentially structured his films like comedies. Dharam Veer though is among his major works relatively shallow in the sense that it too is about the pleasure the genre affords in the hands of a skilled practitioner like Desai. In his Bachchan efforts he is quite often ‘saying’ much more in terms of examining the Indian socio-political fabric and so forth. Rajamouli in his own way does the same. He has made a proper drama but he too is quite happy to engage those tropes in basic ways rather than make a more probing film with them. This might seem unfair inasmuch as this is clearly not his aim. But his canvas is so large and so ambitious that a little pushing of the envelope at certain points wouldn’t have been such a bad thing.

    The other point I’d make is Rajamouli avoids the danger of many contemporary Chinese epics that are meant to index a certain contemporary nationalist triumphalism. To his great credit Rajamouli avoids such chauvinism. And yet what I nonetheless missed was precisely Desai’s more capaciously inclusive sense of the body politic. I want to emphasize the distinction once again. Rajamouli is not guilty of anything here (at least what I’d consider objectionable in my book) but for all this and inadvertently his film too becomes symptomatic of the contemporary Indian moment of greater national assertion. On the one hand Rajamouli has the tribals, the ‘Africans’, the different caste representations, master and slave, the Muslim traveler from abroad and so forth. He does seem to cover the gamut and perhaps the second part will have more of all this. But there is nevertheless a political and aesthetic norm in this film which relies on a specific archive of idealization when it comes to various imaginings of the past. Of course all such historical efforts (mythologized or otherwise) are minimally nationalistic in this sense. From all those post-War Hollywood efforts that mirrored America in Rome to obsessive Tamil explorations of the same genre (SS Vasan was rightly mentioned the other day in an NDTV piece) that sought to reconstruct a Tamil nationalism in the face the Hindi hegemonic onslaught or even the japanese Samurai film that becomes almost an industry unto itself after Japan’s defeat.. the nationalist burden is always embedded in this genre. And to this extent Rajamouli has avoided triumphalism in any easy sense. His ideal warrior is also a humanist to the core. Specially at this point in time those gestures are vitally important. His ‘bahubali’ is in a way also a trickster figure, one could even argue (SPOILERS) that there is a certain generational dialog here in that perhaps the father represents that martial ideal much more than the somewhat unruly son. But it is the latter who is of course the film’s truest hero. So again I appreciate all of this. However and from my perspective pushing a bit more in Desai’s direction might have made the film even richer. I suppose there is also a deeper difference in modes here. Desai’s world is ultimately a secular one. There is a cathartic economy that runs between his mythological or better still epic allusions and his contemporary (even if it’s Dharam Veer!) heroes/characters. Because Desai is forever about AAA and that sort of social fabric. He is too sly a filmmaker to invest too directly in the mythic mode. What of Amitabh Bachchan in his world though? But note how it is only Coolie where things are so overt in this sense and even there it is about the completion of Bachchan’s mythos rather than translating a glorified past into the present. Rajamouli though precisely depends on the latter sort of transcendence and hence has to respect certain rules of the game. There is a very clear order to his world. It is hierarchical in ways that Dharam Veer never is. Again perhaps the second film will subvert all of this and by way of a hero who does not seem to be following the rules too closely.

    All of this is still not a major criticism. It’s more a means to reflect on certain contrasts. And one could certainly argue at the other end that Rajamouli shows how it can be done if one wishes to have that sort of political and aesthetic imaginary without indulging in full-blown nationalism.

    In any case and to repeat what I started out with this was easily one of my most memorable experiences in the theater. I don’t think I could quite compare any other contemporary Indian film to it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Satyam, both this and Saurabh’s comment really need to be independent posts…

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      • I haven’t read Saurabh’s comment yet but I sometimes prefer keeping even the long comments in the respective threads because they’re part of that discussion. When you make independent posts the discussion also gets a bit scattered.

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    • omrocky786 Says:

      Glad Satyam sir and Q liked it ..
      I think the first twenty minutes were too slow and kind of like Krish. But as soon as Tamanna showed up, the movie became very enjoyable.
      I am glad that Q mentioned the writer, since for Bajrangi – Kabir Khan in all of his interviews totally avoids mentioning the writer.
      The Dharam -Veer analogy is pretty accurate,
      I also agree with Q that Saurabh above has described the last scene and other war scenes brilliantly.
      The best visual as per me was Kattapa bowing to Bahubali, and its backdrop ! Masala in full form !!

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      • Yes…one of mine too. Loved Kattapa and it reminded me a bit of Bachchan in Eklavya (though Kattapa is no match to Bigb acting wise) for similar story line of loyalty to throne etc. Liked what rajamouli has done with character (actors) and loved his cameo appearance in the movie too. I liked the headless warrier scene too and many-many others (total masala, total genius). There should be something said about BGM too. I also loved the fact that movie is ‘kid-friendly’ and all the blood/gore/violenceromance has been shown without glorifying it , in a way a small child can watch and not get traumatised. I am going for a second dekko with my kids now.

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    • Saw the film last night. Weirdly, more than any of the films that this is most definitely influenced by it reminded me of Varma’s two-part work, Rakhta Charitra. Those grim, humorless but very interesting films are also about men vying for power and engaging in protracted wars that inevitably spill over successive generations. Varma’s two-parter, as with many of his post-Company works, deify their lead male characters, make it clear that they exist on a plane other than the ordinary people that happen to orbit them. Baahubali literalizes this conceit which makes for a far less uneven, far more impressive work.

      That said I should add I probably didn’t see the film nearly everyone else did. I think expectations are to blame, really, I was hoping this was something really new. To repeat what has now become cliche, this is a big grand spectacle with some really energetic action sequences and a world that seems familiar (Ten Commandments for sure but also Avatar and LOTR and Red Cliff as you rightly mention) but manages to remain culturally anchored and contextualized in a unique way. For all the sound and fury though it is most definitely an uncomplicated film and the cavalcade here needed to whirl around a strong central performance, which it doesn’t get with Prabhas. As everyone has said, physically he works but this is a tougher role than it seems and it needed someone with far more range, a great deal more gravitas than this actor is capable of suggesting in order for the emotional stuff to really register. I see the argument that this isn’t really an actor’s movie, it’s about the world and the ride and so on, but even by that measure I have to say that while I was never bored, far from it, I also wasn’t really thinking this was something quite sensational in the way I’d thought Enthiran absolutely was. I’d very easily take Shankars’ film over this. Don’t mean to be too hard. I did enjoy myself here, and will most definitely catch the second one – as with Rakht Charitra it seems a tad premature to really weigh in on this until one has seen the whole picture.

      On the sexism, (I won’t touch the racist stuff because it’s so patently obvious despite some hilarious excuses here!) while I do agree with Q that the criticisms are disingenuous when compared to the far worse examples in a lot of Hindi cinema, I have to say I did find the scene/song illustrating the transformation of Avantika’s character pretty disheartening just from a story standpoint if nothing else. Hopefully they get her back to guerrilla warrior mode in the next film.

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      • Fair comment all round GF. I’ve clearly liked the film more than you but I do accept that nothing is as ‘interesting’ here as the best of Shankar.

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        • What it does share with Enthiran is the sense that it’s knocking on a door that up until now wasn’t too visible. I imagine the reason I responded more to Enthiran is because I simply prefer sci-fi to LOTR-like fantasy. Certainly don’t begrudge anyone their praise here, I hate being the spoilsport when people get this excited about a big movie!

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          • your response also forces one to rethink the umbrella term of masala. Not just in the usual ways of whether it’s more narrative-driven or more one with picaresque elements but in the sense of being propelled by a ‘parallel text’ (Vijay Mishra’s term for Amitabh Bachchan) or not. The bachchan/rajnikant model so to speak. The degree to which (and with or without the benefit of what might be considered a good performance in some traditional sense) such a ‘lead’ represents the summit of all the film’s concerns or better still is able to summarize all its ‘signs’. This is very different from being merely effective or even competent in a lead part. But to take this even further one kind of lead star does not simply represent an apotheosis of sorts but is able to refract the very same concerns slightly differently through his persona and/or performance. The world of a masala film, even one rich in all kinds of signs, nonetheless needs an anchor-author within that world which is then different from the director who is author in a very different way. There’s almost a novelistic parallel here where Shakespeare might write Hamlet but he still needs Hamlet to be this huge character within the play. Without him all of the play’s concerns would remain the same but the wouldn’t find the most adequate expression. Or even beyond this, and risking a bit of Badiou, the lead star becomes a kind of ‘name’ around whom all these concerns get crystallized. Without this focal point you risk abstraction. And here once again it makes all the difference in the world when you have a star whose ‘signification’ cannot just be reduced to that which he derives from the world of the film but brings to it his own ‘economy’ from elsewhere. What we see these days specially by way of Telugu masala or even in a lot of Tamil masala is a successful star who might be very effective in terms of occupying a certain space but the films in question still seem a bit empty in ways that the average Bachchan or Rajnikant movie (without the benefit of a strong plot) did not. This is why on his truly important films Shankar keeps alternating between Rajni and Vikram. Or for that matter earlier he never took Arjun for a more comprehensive effort like Indian. Another way of formulating all of this might be to suggest that a great star or even a great star in-the-making is able to introduce a sense of history in a world which always points towards this but which cannot provide it without the active intervention of such a star. Someone who can epitomize things this way.

            getting back to Bahubali I too would have liked to see someone more interesting than Prabhas here. On the one hand I am conflicted about this to the extent that Rajamouli’s world is so overwhelming at many levels it’s not easy to see where a strong performance (on our terms) could fit into it. But on the other hand a ‘great’ star would possibly be able to introduce that level of difference here and really change the film in profound ways. I don’t pretend that I am completely convinced either way. Because there is a historical caveat here. Stars like Bachchan or Rajni were never associated with period genres (the ones that were elsewhere were perhaps more reducible to those parts in certain ways). They were ‘new’ heroes for a new India. I don’t think it’s merely coincidence that no one thought of doing grand period epics with them. Of course all of this doesn’t mean that a mode as mythic as Rajamouli’s in this film couldn’t incorporate such a figure. And certainly the history of the great epics of the past would argue precisely for this point. Whether anti-heroes of the Bachchan/Rajni mould could take on these parts is what I’m grappling with. Now one could certainly argue that there could be a different sort of physical presence that could do the job better than Prabhas. true but I suspect that the kinds of great stars we have in mind including Vikram are of the kind who couldn’t easily occupy that spot in a film like Bahubali. They would introduce that refraction I’ve been positing (or come across as a bit more ambiguous) and I guess I’m conflicted about precisely this. The non-Bachchan/Rajni/Vikram kind of star might not seem as interesting in Bahubali even if he were better than Prabhas in some sense. My final thought along these lines would be that Rajamouli perhaps requires Achilles (at least on the evidence of the first part) whereas the stars we might have in mind are perhaps a bit closer to Odysseus. Or at least they borrow from both. A certain sort of epic universe requires something obvious and ‘stupid’ (I mean this descriptively) like Achilles. Which unfortunately also indexes our times. Audiences respond well to certain kinds of bodies on screen, certain performances. There is less room for Arjun’s angst here!

            Liked by 1 person

          • “The world of a masala film, even one rich in all kinds of signs, nonetheless needs an anchor-author within that world which is then different from the director who is author in a very different way.”
            This entire comment is fantastic but I especially found this part useful with respect to my own thoughts on the central performance here. I think it might explain my reservations with the casting of a less-than-impactful lead actor. Baahubali certainly affords the performer less authorship by virtue of its specific context; I think it’s more interested in an actor that can disappear into the world without intervening with his signature. But it certainly needed a charismatic figure that convincingly moves between different modes of performance fluidly, which is a specifically masala-actor trait.

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          • Satyam sir.
            Muthalvan first choice was Rajini, it then went to Arjun as Rajini rejected.
            Enthiran first choice was Kamal, it didn’t happen due to difference of opinion, it then got rejected by Aamir and SRK and landed on Rajini.
            Ai hunchback was narrated to both Kamal and Rajini who both rejected it.

            Safe to assume Shankar is Kamal and Rajini devotee, Arjun and Vikram are fillers in case of rejections.

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          • Can’t say I agree with any of this to be quite honest. There are lots of such stories floated, sometimes by ‘interested’ camps. But mysteriously certain patterns emerge! As far as I can tell he’s been alternating between Rajni and Vikram on his last 4 major works. Now there’s talk of a Robot sequel. Not sure if it’s true.

            By the way there are variants on this in Hindi cinema also. At one point Hrithik and SRK were supposed to have rejected every major film out there! If all these stories are really true this would also make them utter idiots! Somehow I don’t think that’s the case.

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          • Sir Shankar himself has said this. So you can watch his interview to Sun TV in 2010 pooja holodays before Endhiran release. For Enthiran kamal abd Preity Zinta even shot promotional photos (availablw in Web), Rajini himself said Ai hunchback script narrated to him in 2010 post Enthiran. Shankar during Ai promotion in Coffee with Dd say that he always thinks of Kamal and Rajini in his scripts including Ai.

            So you can’t say wrong info on behalf of Shankar.

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  13. Atlast Satyam saw Baahubali. Cheers!

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    • I’ll probably be watching Bajrangi soon too but I really should have seen it before this. However much I like it or not I’m quite certain it will seem like a very poor followup after this. In fact it’s so much on my mind that I don’t feel like watching any other Indian commercial release for a while!

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      • It was good that I saw Bajrangi first and then Baahubali. I am glad I did that. Bajrangi is decent for Salman starrer. But there is no comparison with Baahubali.

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      • Aptly put — initially I hadn’t planned on watching it a second time but it stays with you, and five days later I am craving it; will watch it again this weekend…

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        • will do it again myself. I saw it in the city but now after so many weeks it’s playing at a theater close to me.

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          • I was holding my breath (whether you liked it or not)…now I can breathe easy. I think this is first…a rare occurance…both of us likely same movie intensely passionately 🙂 😉

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          • I liked it so much that (and as I said) yesterday it will be hard for me to watch other Hindi movies for sometime! Having said that I will be watching Bajrangi.

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  14. Others have commented on this but note how for BOI a big hit in E Punjab (i.e. a Punjabi film) is more of a big deal than Bahubali doing this stupendously all over India!

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  15. I should also say here Q that while I too am no fan of Prabhas and he’s not quite charismatic the way Rana Daggubati is here he nonetheless grows on you through the film. Also the casting seems understandable to the extent that he’s also a kind of foil to the cold, distant Daggubati. The other thing to appreciate here amidst a number of wonderful casting choices is that he has a lead who is a bit hulk-like which is hardly the same as being a gym body in the usual plastic sense. Because this world requires much more ‘reality’ in that sense, much more of a ‘flesh and blood’ physicality than gym bodies are likely to suggest. Which is not to say that these guys haven’t been to the gym (!), just that their frames are much more in keeping with what one would expect in this world.

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    • Perhaps you are right that I have been unfair to him — he’s certainly not offensive, I just felt his intensity was a few notches lower than what it needed to be…

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      • Oh good! Now you better edit the original post to reflect your changed views 😛
        Atleast this Prabhas fan was crestfallen reading the post 😦
        Btw, this was the mania prior to Baahubali’s release:

        https://t.co/maGqrzkFVY

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      • I don’t think it’s because Prabhas is incapable as much as probably rajamouli directed him that way. If you’ve seen Prabhas in Varsham, or Chatrapathi (also a rajamouli film made in 2005) he delivered very intense performances and you literally couldn’t take your eyes off him on screen. The pre-interval scene in Chatrapathi is in fact one of the best I’ve seen in Telugu films. But in Baahubali, it was almost like he was being held back. Maybe he’ll deliver in the second part.

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        • I’ll try and check out Chatrapathi..

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          • Let me know what you think. It’s available on YouTube in both the original Telugu as well as a Hindi dubbed version. I recommend the original though. It is one of rajamouli’s early films. It was a big hit and turned him and Prabhas into best friends lol. The film is not without faults. I won’t spoil it for you though by discussing its drawbacks. But you can see flashes of brilliance from rajamouli even then.

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          • thanks, will check it out soon.

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          • netlfix has DVDs on both Varsham and Chatrapathi. Telugu in each case. They also seem to have a few other Prabhas titles – Pournami, Chakram, Adavi Ramudu, Yogi.

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          • Pournami is okay but didn’t do well because it came right after chatrapati and it didn’t match up. The others you listed weren’t his best films. His major hits were Varsham, Chatrapathi, Billa, Darling, Mr. Perfect and Mirchi. I personally enjoyed the first two and mirchi was okay but most of his movies are run of the mill Telugu masala formula movies. Basically in salman’s wanted mode. Stories that don’t make much sense but with popular songs and intense fight scenes. They made him a top hero in the Telugu film industry but I’m not a fan of such films.

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  16. “Hindi films served as my introduction to Hinduism as a child; Bachchan in Deewar had more to do with my excitement at first visiting a Hindu temple than anything else did);”
    You should do a separate blog post on this Q…someday…

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  17. “A word on the cast: Prabhas is certainly the right physical fit for the part of Sivudu, but his pleasantly blank face is devoid of intensity, and I do consider him a weak link here;”

    My thoughts “Only weak point I feel is the main lead Prabhu who plays BahuBali couldnt do proper justice to his role, or did i felt that because i saw the dubbed version! Because places where you see him like leading the warriors or standing among them, he doesn’t inspire much confidence as a war lord.”

    Loved the Review Q, i thought after reading so many pieces on Bahubali, what more can one offer, but as always you pack your own punch.

    I though believe that the movie could still have had a better soundtrack, especially from war angle and a good music theme. The movie actually puts bollywood to shame!

    There are certain inconsistencies thought, which I hope arent so easily traceable in second part, like the lead character suddenly getting shoes once he starts running in the jungle.

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/bahubali-the-rest-of-the-box-office/#comment-308313

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  18. For omrocky

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  19. Just saw Baahubali, it was just amazing. Have never seen and Indian film like it. I could use all the superlatives Taran Adarsh and Komal Nahta used for the Box Office Ra.1 + Bajrangi + Dabangg and it still wouldn’t be sufficient And sure Hollywood and the Chinese have made epics/war movies like this before, but Baahubali has a weapon that no other film industry does- Indian mythology- which is just mind blowing and has so much untapped potential. Baahubali uses this and hence there is a source of familiarity for the audience and then adds the incredible VFX/action/scenery. I thought everyone’s acting was on point, even Tamannah’s. Anushka’s character actually did frighten me the first time they showed her face. Each scene of the film looked like a million bucks.

    But yes this does really put Bollywood to shame- forget about matching the entire film, I don’t think any Bollywood director has the capability of even imagining the Waterfall scene in this movie. Actually coming out of the theater, I didn’t think wow that is a 150/250 crore budget movie, I thought how is the the Budget ONLY 150/250 crores. I know that there was a sense of Telugu pride before the film released in the sense that all Telugu’s should watch this film etc (like they tried to do for the bokwas Krrish 3), but as a Bengali, I’m just hating the Bengali film industry more and more and wish I was South Indian because of the films lol. The creativity and budget of just that first Romantic Song in the waterfall is greater than the budget of the biggest Bengali film, Chander Pahar. The entire budget of the film is greater than the combined budget of all ~100 bengali films that released in 2014.

    I think Baahubali the Conclusion will do 1000 crores worldwide. If the hindi dubbed version, which was poorly promoted and released 1 week before a Salman Khan movie, could do 100 crores, then (assuming the same quality of film as Part 1), if they market and promote Part 2 as they do any A-grade star film and give it a good release date, then I can see the Hindi version making 200+ crores. And why just hindi, they should dub it in all major Indian languages because the the story is so universal (or I mean pan-India). Plus it’s not as if the audience thought Part 1 was underwhelming, it’s quite the contrary. Will try to watch it again next week but I’m not sure if it will be running anywhere in its 5th week in Chicago…

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    • Re: ” I could use all the superlatives Taran Adarsh and Komal Nahta used for the Box Office Ra.1 + Bajrangi + Dabangg and it still wouldn’t be sufficient…”

      LOL!

      Only point I would disagree with you on is that the Hindi version was poorly promoted: it came with a lot of buzz, Dharma distributed it, and this was actually a film people were waiting for: an unusual experience as far a dubbed popular film is concerned — I think this was one of the rare dubbed Indian films that was appropriately promoted!

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