Bahubali 2: The Conclusion had risen the audiences’ expectations sky high, and did Rajamouli and his team satiate their hunger?
The titles recapitulate The Beginning with the help of still images, possibly inspired by the mythological stories that are told graphically on the walls of temples through paintings or figurines. Right from there till the end, The Conclusion is an emotional journey aided by awesome visual effects, computer-generated imagery, and befitting background score. More than all these, The Conclusion scores high on characterizations: Sivagami, Devasena, Kattappa, and Bhallaladeva steal the show with characters that have clearly defined bounds and behaviour. (I was personally not as much impressed with the characterization of Bahubali — neither the father’s nor the son’s — essentially because of minor inconsistencies which could have been done away with. Such nit-picking is only of academic interest and does not come into the way of experiencing the grandiose magnum opus!
It is a kind of sacrilege to treat such a gargantuan effort and output as a mere feature film and break down my review into “film crafts” and their performance. I shall try avoiding that as a way of showing respect to the monumental and concerted efforts of the Team Bahubali, but I may be found doing it here and there and I hope the readers feel any such blasphemy justified.
#WKKB, ha, that one question that was on people’s minds longer than “Why this kolaveri Di…” – what’s up with it? The writer Vijayendra Prasad and the screenplay writer Rajamouli have created a properly justifiable premise through multiple episodes and it makes complete sense in the big picture. The gradual journey through this part of the story is carefully dealt with so that the audiences can empathize or at least mourn silently accepting the inevitable, much like the citizens of Mahishmati. Oh, yes, and by that time, all the audience would have got their Mahishmati citizenship!
Art and Production Design, Music Score and Sound Supervision, Camera, VFX, CGI, are all top class. The BGM and the visuals are effective enough to carry the audience with them into Mahishmati and the proceedings there. While Keeravani’s score seems out of place sometimes, he makes it up quickly in a lot of other scenes where music comes to life as it creates the emotional being within the audiences’ minds. The songs pale in comparison with those of The Beginning, though the repeating chant “hEssa@h, rudrassa@h…” stirs emotions within. For a two-part film such as Bahubali, production planning must be very diligent, and The Conclusion too scores well on that front. The production teams as well as the Ramoji Film City must receive special appreciation for the meticulous planning and execution of such a dream as Bahubali. However, some jerks in the screenplay were unavoidable, and some of these jerks are due to the editor’s desk too. But most of these jumps and jerks are not glaring either and may even be unnoticed for most of the engrossed audience. (The Kalakeyas seem to have lost their way, I guess!) The one-on-one war sequences could have been better too.
The writing department (including the screenplay writer Rajamouli) must be commended for their work, but for a very few inconsistencies and a few loopholes. The characterizations and certain threads and scenes are clearly inspired by Indian epics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and that’s a compliment truly! Inspiration is a good thing, and transcreation thereof is appreciable. (Who could have thought the incessant, crazy chanting of Bahubali’s name at the interval block was inspired by the frenzy created in some random audio release event when Pawan Kalyan’s name was taken!!) I can quote scenes on and on, where the writing department excelled in sketching the characters and/or creating a particular scene.
Loopholes, I said, yes. #WIBW or “Who Is Bhallaladeva’s Wife?” is a new question that’s going around now, but I do not see that as a loophole at all! After all, Janaka’s wife is not named prominently anywhere in Valmiki’s Ramayana and Nigama Sarma’s sister is not named in Tenali Ramakrishna’s Panduranga Mahatmyam. They caused no disruption to these stories, of course! One character less and that’s good, I’d rather say!
So, what are the loopholes? Well, while attempting to avoid any spoilers, I’d only raise a few questions: How or why did Sivagami or the people of Mahishmati bear the evil king Bhallaladeva for 25 years? Was Bhallaladeva’s rule so benevolent that the people lived there silently? Why did they not feel the hurt when Devasena was chained in the King’s courtyard? Why did Kattappa continue to serve Bhallaladeva and even train the latter’s armies? Why did Devasena, the warrior princess, not fight against Bhallaladeva herself? I can, in some way, convince myself that these were not needed for me to understand the film or experience it all. However, as someone who virtually lived in Mahishmati for a good six hours now, I cannot but escape from these questions myself!
Ramya Krishna as Sivagami creates such a feeling among the audiences that this film (too?) belongs to her! Her screen presence and varied emotions are impeccable. Anushka is bolstered by a strong characterization too and comes a close second to Ramya Krishna in The Conclusion. Her hair-raising performance in The Beginning had already turned Jejamma into Devasena and The Conclusion takes it to the next level altogether! As a gutsy princess of self-respect, Anushka is at ease even in action episodes as she moves around super-swiftly shooting arrows. She looks very different yet beautiful in the songs kannaa, nidurincharaa… and hamsanaava. Prabhas had the personality to carry both the roles on his massive shoulders, while RaNa comes as a huge surprise. His portrayal of Bhallaladeva will be remembered for long! Nasser was okay too. Subbaraju, who joined the cast only for The Conclusion did a very appreciable job portraying a character that had a few different shades. Tamannah had nothing to do, literally, in The Conclusion and her screen time is hardly 2 minutes. Satyaraj has some lighter vein moments in The Conclusion and he carries his role with ease, and with all the necessary force when needed, including a crucial scene for the conception and execution of which Rajamouli also needs an appreciation!
Rajamouli as the director needs a super-special mention for keeping a whole team of cast and crew engulfed in his larger-than-life idea that Bahubali was shaping up to be! Every frame of the film has his stamp on it! The reuse of Bhallaladeva’s 100-foot gold statue is a brilliant idea with a lot of subtleties embedded into it, until the end! The introduction scene for the protagonist Amarendra Bahubali is well-conceived too. The war scenes in Kunthala kingdom and within Mahishmati also exemplify his imagination! His care towards every minute detail is unmissable. A lot of scenes have a lot of subtle symbolisms encapsulated into them — I am sure to find more of them in a second viewing and in a third! A huge round of standing ovation is due to the whole team!
When good things like the two-part Bahubali also come to The Conclusion, it is inevitable that even my review must! I can go on and on but I shall end with a note to the makers and the readers: It’s been a common trend these days that reviews influence people and may affect the revenue that movies make. Well, if you consider Bahubali series and particularly The Conclusion, people have firmly decided to either watch it or not watch it. No review may have changed the decision of the potential moviegoers. Next time when you think a reviewer can influence audience and affect the box office performance, remember that making a film with the care that was taken for Bahubali will ensure the presence of audience in a similar way, despite all odds and despite any negative reviews! A review of such a film is thus a mere informed opinion — serving the true purpose of a review.
Review by NaChaKi