Baahubali 2 Review
'Baahubali-2' is in theatres, finally. Here is our review:
Amarendra Baahubali, the king-designate of Mahishmathi, goes on a trip across the kingdom to understand the ground situation on the orders of Sivagami (Ramya Krishna). Accompanying him is Kattappa (Sathyaraj). In the small kingdom of Kuntala, Baahubali falls in love with the gutsy Devasena (Anushka) at first sight.
A rom-com track involving Baahubali, Kattappa, Devasena and Kumara Varma (Subbu Raju as Devasena's bava) follows.
Meanwhile in Mahishmathi, the brother in distress Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati) and his father (Nasser) are seething with rage because the throne has eluded the former, thanks to what they perceive as Sivagami's unfairness. It's at this point that Bhallaladeva comes to know about his brother Baahubali's interest Devasena. He devises a plot to win Devasena by hook or crook. As Sivagami doesn't know the truth about Baahubali's love interest, Bhallaladeva cons her into believing that he wants to marry the gorgeous Devasena as he loves her.
When Sivagami sends a message to the Kuntala Princess about her son's interest in entering into an alliance with her, a mistaken identity leads to curious consequences. Furthermore, Devasena's adverse reaction to the offer leads to earth-shattering consequences.
What are they and how do they suck every character into a thick plot? Will Amarendra abide by the constitution of Mahishmathi or follow 'dharma' as Sivagami taught him? What is Sivagami's role in deciding the destiny of Amarendra? Why does Kattappa kill Baahubali? How does Mahendra Baahubali avenge his father's assassination? Answers to these questions are found in the second half.
While visual spectacle was expected, to what extent has Vijayendra Prasad succeeded as a story-writer will be subjected to rigorous analysis in the coming days. It's because of the hype that came to surround the Baahubalian question of why Kattappa killed Baahubali.
Perhaps, some stories create greatest curiosity when left half-unsaid. Some questions are sexy, whether or not the answers are. Whether the reason why Kattappa kills Baahubali is really mind-blowing is better left half-unsaid for now.
Let's assess two elements first. The first one has to do with Rajamouli's biggest strength: heroism. The second one has to do with his alleged weakness: comedy.
The director rocks it as far as the first is concerned. As luck would have it, there are two heroes here - Amarendra and Mahendra. Take for example the former's introduction scene. It's stylized, symbolic and emotional, all while giving a visual high. The mother has to complete a ritual so that the kingdom is saved from ruin from a dangerous famine. Cruelly enough, a wild elephant starts going on a rampage. Sivagami can't afford to step back. Enter the hero, who single-handedly tames the beast. In one scene, Rajamouli sets the tone for the element of mother-son equations that are going to be the strongest leitmotif for the rest of 160 minutes.
And comedy. It's Rajamouli's weakness for a reason. Kumara Varma, Deva Sean's incompetent 'bava', has to be made to believe that he is ferocious. Kattappa has to overdo it. And Amarendra has to woo Devasena this way. Scene after scene, the comedy falls flat, complete with Kattappa doing a 'Devudo.. devuda', a la the '90s era Brahmanandam.
Writing-wise, Devasena's reactions to events that happen in her life are the film's biggest surprise element. As a strong-minded woman who doesn't tolerate an iota of disrespect, she speaks truth to power as represented by the patriarchal Sivagami, who herself turns out to be drunk with arrogance. The face-off between the two strong women characters needs a separate review altogether. They drive the story with their game-changing decisions.
The interval bang episode is the best part, more than the climax. The salutations taken by hundreds of soldiers is brilliantly conceived.
Does the writing have its share of flaws? If you think Amarendra's reaction to his banishment from the kingdom should have come with more heft and drama. If you think Sivagami should have been seen more and not necessarily only when the criminals are around. If you think Amarendra's best punch lines should have been with the main antagonists, and not with Kumara Varma.
The war episodes come with stratagems and stunning graphics. The climax war is complete with a strong emotional touch involving mother-son sentiment, with interludes of Nasser's Bijaladeva trying to once again get Kattappa do his bidding, etc.
The graphics are organic to Rajamouli's creative ideas, and not there just for the sake of it. In terms of the force of the main war, one has to say that the war involving Amarendra, Bhallala and Kalakeya in the first part was more appealing.
Prabhas delivers his most emotionally-variegated performance here. As Mahendra, he has no time or scope to relax, as he enters the scene just before the climax. As Amarendra, he does fun, he does romance, he shows pain in his mother's presence, etc.
Ramya Krishna's irreverent sitting posture oozing hurt ego deserves kudos. Rana Daggubati is convincing, much like in the first half. Somehow, the way he reacts when Amarendra is killed is old villainy and it could have been avoided. Anushka's measured fit of rage is beautiful. Otherwise, she looks gorgeous and gutsy throughout. Sathyaraj once again emotes so well with his eyes. His comedy, however, puts us off. The mean Nasser and the bumbling Subbu Raju fit the bill. Tamannah is seen in a few shots and has no line.
MM Keeravani's songs were better in the first part. The graphics-heavy duet on board Mahishmathi could well be chopped off. His BGM gets contemporary only here and there. KK Senthil Kumar's cinematography is breathtaking. The sheer scale and the very many landscapes are captured to a great effect.
'Baahubali-2' has its share of hits and misses, writing-wise. How far the audience enjoy the scenes leading up to Baahubali's murder at Kattappa's hands will determine the film's enormity of success. First-rate performances, Devasena and Sivagami's decisions and the visuals are big hits. The war episode may be found to be less fascinating than the Kalakeya war in the first part.