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July 13, 2015
The Beginning. Of a new era in Telugu cinema.
Liking a film is -- not entirely, but mostly -- subjective. One cannot always objectively prove what’s right or wrong. Even the biggest blockbuster in Indian film history will have its share of dissonant views. As for my view, I loved it. Immensely. Quite some people divided Baahubali-Part One into two parts, before and after interval. I really wouldn’t care to split a film that way, but if I had to, I loved the first half even more than the second. The whole movie is totally engrossing though, pulling you into it’s awe-inspiring world of epic characters.
The romance between Sivudu and Avantika is winsome. The song leading to their consummation is erotic and playful at the same time: the matching of the tattoos like they complete each other, she using the last remnant of cloth from her disrobing to blindfold him.
Gigantic as the backdrop is, it but forms a fitting frame for the larger-than-life characters and their surging emotions. The aim is not merely to stun and awe but to tell and share. Rajamouli doesn’t just focus on the humongous; he equally concentrates on the miniscule. One tiny word of a child, calling his slave ‘maama’ (uncle) evokes a wave of emotion.
The revelation of Sivudu’s heredity to Katappa is a high that’s higher than the waterfall. Him charging towards the hero and then slithering along on his knees towards his feet is breath-taking. And then placing Sivudu’s foot on his head, ingeniously intercut with the baby’s foot, is heart-touching.
The songs have been evocatively used to underline the underlying emotions in the visuals: Sivagami feeding the two babies to the haunting ‘mamathala thalli’; the waterfall ascension to the inspiring ‘Dheevara’; lifting up the giant sivalingam to the chant of ‘Sivuni Aana’.
The battle that forms the climax for Baahubali-The Beginning is a spectacular victory for Indian cinema. The endless span of a whole countryside teeming with marauding hordes has never been seen before. The formation of the human fortress is like an engineering marvel. And the innovative use Baahubali puts incendiary tents to overcome his handicap of being given inappropriate weapons and decimate the enemy is brilliant.
There are of course minor niggles, which I don’t think are important when looking at the big picture. One definite disappointment though would be the lack of a denouement. A dousing of the emotional flames so skilfully raised, a befitting retribution to the villains. Waiting one year for fulfilment is a bit cruel. May be a heart-warming hug by Sivudu to his long yearning mother Devasena could have been a salve instead.