The sense of excitement is almost palpable – and having just seen ‘Baahaubali:The Beginning’, you can see why…
By Sailesh Ram
THIS week will be a big one in India – cinematically speaking.
One of the country’s highest grossing movies is back for a second instalment.
‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ hits screens worldwide on Friday (April 28).
It will be an event. It has put South Indian cinema truly on a global map.
Director SS Rajamouli and some of his star cast and production team will be in London on the following Tuesday, May 2 for a screening at the BFI Southbank.
The first version screened there for the first time on Friday (April 21).
First released in 2015, it did run in theatres here in the UK, but outside South Indian communities and Indian film buffs (not Bollywood fans), it did not make too many inroads. It had a routine run and more or less disappeared.
Epic, absorbing, fantastic and utterly cinematic in its execution, ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ is a love letter to filmmaking. And boy, does it deliver.
It is the story of a little boy, lost and found, a community that claims him and then loses him, but to a higher and more exacting purpose.
A tale of power, frailty, greed and lust, it ends on a difficult and searching moment with a murder. And asks the burning question why and just how?
The sets are incredible, the fight scenes on another level (and slightly reminiscent of ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘, but this is set in ancient times), the imagination at work is a painter’s and a novelist combined, but articulated visually, and quite possibly, without equal.
It is many, many things to many, many different people but anyone interested in the possibilities of cinema must see this film – everything about it is superlative.
It is not realism as we might understand it. It is a form of myth-making in itself and personally, it reminds one of the sheer joy and expressiveness of Indian cinema just as it was once articulated by Chinese in Ang Lee’s masterful, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2001) and made the crossover into the West. There is no real western equivalent fo ‘Baahubali‘, it has both elements of ‘Star Wars‘ and ‘Lord of the Rings‘ – but it is definitely cinema at its most exciting and creative.
‘Baahubali’ director SS Rajamouli is an auteur and deserves to be rightly recognised as such – and his appearance at the BFI is an acknowledgement of his standing in world cinema.
Made in SS’s mother tongue of Telugu, it will also have big releases in Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam. It is thought the Hindi version is the one that will be on wider release here but the BFI screening will be in the original of Telugu.
The film has spawned many spin-offs and many in India liken it now to George Lucas’ ‘Star Wars’. It has the same epic form storytelling of its heart. Empires rise and fall on the will of men – and women, for in Sivagami (Ramya Krishnan), SS created an equal ruler of power and grace.
Earlier this year a novel charting her rise almost overwhelmed the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). There is also a new virtual reality video game based on the film; and the music too is enchanting and gives the film another dimension.
Tickets for the BFI screening are sold out – but check on returns and the like…and if you can’t get in there…and don’t mind missing out on seeing SS Rana Daggubati (‘Bhallaladeva’ in the film, and Baahabhuli’s enemy) and Anushka Shetty (Devasena) and producer Shobu Yarlagadda and composer MM Keeravaani in person, then…
As we understand it, Cineworld should be running it from Friday but we haven’t been able to confirm that at the time of publication. It is listed on its website with the release date, but no further details (such as locations). Check https://www.cineworld.co.uk/
So, where are you going to be on Friday?
— Baahubali (@BaahubaliMovie) April 24, 2017
News bites – ‘Tuning 2 you’; Tara & Rifco, theatre diversity, ‘Ready or Not’; ‘Baahubali’ change, Ritesh Batra