It came, shattered records and set new benchmarks. SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali was a cinematic tsunami that Indian audience will take a long time to get over. A magnum opus, it set new bench marks in virtually all departments of filmmaking, most notably, in visual effects. It set the box office on fire, earning a spot among the top three grossers in India of all times along with with Bajrangi Bhaijaan and PK, pocketing more than Rs 600 crore.
In effect, 2015 belonged to Baahubali. Because, at the end of the day, it is not merely about minting money, but about doing things never attempted before (visual effect, in this case) and then leaving behind a legacy. And that’s where Baahubali scores big. We bring you reasons why Baahubali did what it did in 2015.
Redefined south cinema
Nothing has defined contemporary Indian popular culture like cinema and cricket. Yet, the moment one thinks of Indian films, one is most likely to think Hindi film industry based in Mumbai or the more realistic Bengali cinema of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. Films from South have often been relegated to the ‘regional’ slot and have for long been viewed as the ‘poor’ cousins of Bollywood. With an idiom of its own, its own sensibilities and a star system uniquely its own, South Cinema is quite distinct an identity. But, sadly, has always been overshadowed by Bollywood.
Well, all that was before Baahubali. In its scale, spectacle, sheer drama, and larger than life characters, Baahubali has pushed the envelope like no other non-Hindi film has done so far.
Bollywood knew Rana Daggubati thanks to his role in Akshay Kumar starrer Baby. But who knew Prabhas? Well, to his fans across the globe, he is simply Darling. ButBaahubali catapulted him into national limelight.
Visual effects miracle
While Hollywood has been using CGI for long, the Indian silver screen had seen nothing of the kind. From the VFX (live action like waterfall, avalanche, war sequences, bison fight) to CGI (palaces, forests, song sequences, mountains and valleys, to its flora and fauna), the film has 90% enhanced graphics, thanks to all the work done by Hyderabad-based Makuta Arts chiefly, but also Firefly Creative Studio, Prasad EFX from Hyderabad and Tau Films from Malaysia respectively.
The art direction and costume designing were so detailed that Team Baahubali put together 15,000 story-board sketches (from smallest of weapons used to the biggest of war machines, from jewellery the characters wore to the grandest of palaces and townships) for the film which is highest for any Indian film till date.
Dhoti-clad men, apsara-like damsels, kings with gold crowns, swords and maces galore… this was the Mahabharata reloaded. One look at Tamannahh Bhatia doing the Dhivara song and there was no mistaking the similarity with images of Urvashi, Rambha and Menaka, celestial nymphs from comic books of Amar Chitra Katha. SS Rajamouli has never shied away from stating how the stories from Indian mythologies have been an integral part of his growing up years. The influence is hard to miss. The film is laden with Indian imagery - the idea of a river as the source of life, the worship of shakti as the essence of life, the trishula formation in the art of warfare, the use of crushed flowers as kohl and lip colour… you name it and it’s there.
The story-line itself burrows heavily from the epics - feuding brothers fighting for crown, ‘disabled’ and disgruntled family elder nursing an age-old grudge, an greedy cousin pitted against a righteous one, matriarch who guides the destiny of a family - these are recurring themes from the epics, particularly the Mahabharata.
Baahubali has many first to its credit, chief being that it is the first non-Hindi film to pick more than Rs 100 crore in its Hindi-dubbed version. One of the smartest things that the makers of Baahubali did was get Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions on board for its Hindi version. Needless to say, the rest, as they say, was history. Dharma Productions was the perfect launchpad the film needed to get onto the national and international firmament. And it meant stardom and much, much wider appeal for Rajamouli, Prabhas, Tamannaah Bhatia and Anushka Shetty. So much so that it was rumoured that Karan Johar asked his team of technicians to go to Hyderabad to learn the ropes in visual effects for his own ambitious project, Shuddhi.
The film has done exceedingly well in overseas markets as well, particularly in China where it upset PK’s record.
Small wonder then Baahubali’s sequel was among the most anticipated films in 2016. Looks like it will be a long wait for the audience as there are reports that the part 2 will now come out only in 2017.
Watch Baahubali trailer here: