Shivudu - or rather, Baahubali - is back at last!
The long-awaited conclusion to S. S. Rajamouli's magnum opus drew a larger-than-usual crowd for its release this weekend - and audiences were NOT disappointed.
The Telugu film was simultaneously shot in Tamil and released worldwide along with a dubbed Hindi version. Unfortunately, the Indian distribution contracts for south Indian films stipulate significantly higher-than-average ticket prices during the first week of a film's release. So instead of paying twice as much to see the film in Telugu or Tamil, we opted to see the film in Hindi and pay for more reasonably-priced tickets. However, I look forward to seeing the Telugu and Tamil versions. There is nothing quite so powerful as a defiant speech delivered in the strong rolling prose of a South Indian language.
If you haven't seen Baahubali: The Beginning (or it has been a while since you last watched it), check out the following link and review this handy chart which will bring you up-to-speed on the relationship of the main characters.
This episode opens with a refresher that is more of an homage to the bigger-than-life characters - something more akin to a memorial museum of history than a plot recap. However, armed with the above chart and a friend familiar with the story, you should be able to settle right in.
For those who have seen the first film, the main question on everyone's mind is, "Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali?"
Baahubali: The Conclusion does answer that important question, but not before introducing us to the love story of soon-to-be-king Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas) and Princess Maharani Devasena (Anushka Shetty), a pivotal relationship in the saga.
Just as in the tale of England's King Arthur, Sivagami Devi (Ramya Krishnan) sends Mahishmathi's soon-to-be-king with General Kattappa (Sathyaraj) into the countryside to understand what life is like for the people who will soon be under Baahubali's rule. The two men witness the good, the bad, and the ugly of life in their kingdom. The ugly includes coming upon bandits who are killing and thieving their way across the landscape, leaving death and destruction in their wake.
They arrive at Kuntala which is ruled by Princess Maharani Devasena. She is an expert swordsman and an extremely adept archer, and her beauty and mad skills pique the interest of Baahubali. He decides to sojourn in Kuntala for a while. What follows is a series of humorous episodes where the two men tease the royals with mischief while keeping their true identities under wraps. Devasena senses something is up with these men, but can't quite determine what.
When a brigand army comes to attack the Kuntala castle, Baahubali drops all artifice and comes to the aid of Devasena - even going to far as to provide in-the-moment guidance to enhance her warcraft skills during the battle. Just as the battle is won, Baahubali receives orders to return to the Mahishmathi kingdom with Devasena as his captive. She agrees to go, provided she journeys with Baahubali as his guest and bride-to-be.
But politics in the kingdom of Mahishmathi have gotten complicated while Baahubali and Kattappa were gallivanting in Kuntala. Prince Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati) has managed to hijack the union of Baahubali and Devasena for political gain. When the lovers protest, Baahubali's loyalties are questioned and his position in the Mahishmathi kingdom is re-evaluated.
Sivagami, his long-time benefactor, adopted mother, and reigning queen of Mahishmathi, casts Baahubali and Devasena out of the kingdom and prepares to set Bhallala Deva on the throne.
None of these events prevent the people of Mahismati from seeing Baahubali as the true king he is meant to be. Even when his role is diminished, the people choose to celebrate his character and accomplishments over anyone else in the kingdom.
And Bhallala Deva takes notice.
Despite little physical difference between the two characters, Prabhas manages to reflect the stoicism of the father and the energy of the son clearly enough display their different personalities. In an interview with Rajeev Masand, Prabhas admitted he preferred playing the character of the warrior prince father over that of his son.
"Amarendra Baahubali I liked [playing] more because the whole film revolves around that character. He's very, very straight. He's got a very beautiful soul. He's a great warrior. Shivudu is like a shadow of Baahubali. And it's easy to play because you can do anything. Shivudu has no restrictions. He can do anything. But Baahubali is born as a prince, he's a great warrior. He thinks Dharma is the most important thing ... he always follows the rules and all. He's more deep inside."
While the film's focus is on the loss and redemption of Baahubali, this epic is also a story about a long-lost son discovering his heritage and embracing his destiny.
In his book The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell explains,
"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
Shivudu is an unusual hero who doesn't face a journey that challenges him too far beyond his capacity. Once he discovers his connection to Baahubali and why Kattappa killed him, he becomes focused and fearless. As the son of Baahubali, he seems to have all the courage, strength and determination he needs. At one point Shivudu is told to think like Baahubali - the father he never knew. Whether it is his genetics or an upbringing that afforded him the freedom to think outside the box, he manages to orchestrate a military maneuver that is brilliantly outrageous - and effective. Having seen his father's military prowess in Baahubali: The Beginning, we are certain that Amarendra Baahubali would be proud of his son's tactics.
As the hero's son, Shivudu confidently confronts those his father once called family and fights for truth and justice. Where his father failed to see the evil brewing against him, Shivudu sees all with fresh eyes. Where his father trusted those around him too much, Shivudu's brash nature helps him perceive the imperfections of human nature and discover long-hidden secrets.
So, why did Kattappa kill Baahubali? You'll just have to see the movie to find out.
A film with high production value and a fascinating narrative that keeps your attention from start to finish, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion reinforces what fans already know: S.S. Rajamouli is a master storyteller whose films amaze, enthrall, and are helping to reinvent Indian cinema.
The following playlist features teasers and trailers for the film in multiple languages.
Posters, Banners and Countdown Graphics
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