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'Bahubali' review: A sumptuous visual feast!

'Bahubali' review: A sumptuous visual feast!

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Thursday 9 July 2015

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'Bahubali: The Beginning' marks the start of a two-part series that makes up the entire Bahubali story. 

We meet Shivudu (Prabhas), a boy-man prone to jumping about mountains and waterfalls. He has almost superhuman strength that we witness, as his muscles rip, while uprooting an impossibly heavy idol. 

His people belong to the mountains, and they are simple folk. He's a good-natured guy who, unfortunately, as most Indian films go, thinks it's romantic to woo a woman by ignoring her discomfort, undressing her in a stylishly shot scene, and then turning her into a pretty doll. 

Even if the lady in question is a warrior of sorts, whom we earlier see with hardened, soiled hands. 

His life turns when he discovers things about his past that force him to ask — 'Who am I?' 

The film trails Shivudu trying to uncover the truth and his relation to the royal palace. 

Now, there are several films that are about greed for power, palace intrigue and bloody battles. But this film is more about the imagery and visual grandeur, than the story itself. 

So in the first half for example, you have breathtaking visuals of a formidable waterfall, as Shivudu takes a huge leap across the length of the waterfall in slow-mo. We see him swing as his feet skims the water surface, we see him climb and take majestic leaps against an orange sky (with that waterfall somewhere in the frame). 

It's all overwhelmingly beautiful, and you even tend to forgive that the sky is gloriously orange in one shot and blue in the other. 

Towards the second half, this visual splendor turns into an even more able treat. We see shots of stunningly designed palace buildings, as the camera snakes through the walls and towers, and often gives us an aerial view of the royal extravagance. 

There are beautifully executed scenes like the one where an enormous gold statue of a king is being unveiled to the tune of music and dances, while dozens of are workers being whipped into hauling up the monstrous thing.
 
The battle-scenes (they often remind you of The Lord of The Rings) are terrific. Director S.S. Rajamouli (Magadheera, Eega) makes the battles epic in every way— from the premise, the intentions, the machinations and the menacing enemy army, that seems inspired by the Orc clan from LOTR. 

There is plenty of nasty violence in the film, especially in the battle scenes. It seems like an amalgamation of different way people die, as we see several killed in battle, some knifed, others beheaded, or trapped in a landslide. However the scale and magnanimity of the proceedings distract from the gratuitous violence. 

What is also a huge plus is the bravura, absolutely stunning performance by Prabhas. He has a double role, and is equally fantastic in both. Rana Daggubati matches step as Bhallala, the power-drunk king. Tamannah Bhatia is superb, especially in the scenes where she plays the warrior. 

There are several interesting peripheral characters. The queen mother who nurses her baby while taking charge of the kingdom is a striking one. As is Katappa, who is duty-bound to a king whose ways he does not agree with. 

One wishes the story was more layered, and the dialogue went beyond the obvious. In any case, one reckons that the film-watching experience is somewhat diluted to the dubbing, which can never really capture the full essence of the original language. 

The film falters in an inconsistent pace, adding an artificial romance that never really convinces us, and insinuating a jarring item song with dancers that look too modern. The melodramatic scenes involving the mother are also grating on the nerves. The film ends rather abruptly with a message that says …'Conclusion will happen in 2016'. So much for subtlety!

But there are relatively small faults in a film that overwhelms and entertains through its sheer love for scale and visual wizardry. For the splendid visual feast it offers, and the solid performances, this one comes recommended!

Rating: 3 stars