After the epic first movie ended in a cliffhanger that plagued a nation for two years, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is finally here. From its very first scene, it’s evident that the makers are going to stop at nothing to ensure that this is the most magnificent and memorable experience you are going to have from a movie made in India. Fortunately, there is also enough substance in the story to account for all the magnificence and it doesn’t end up looking like a VFX overload with no plot.
Picking up right where the first movie ended, Baahubali 2 continues with the tale of the titular Amerendra Baahubali, as narrated by Kattappa to Amarendra’s son, Mahendra Baahubali.
The movie starts off with the best opening credits scene I’ve ever watched: an enthralling sequence that serves as a subtle and artful way to recap the events of the past, overlaid with a powerful soundtrack, getting you excited for the story to unfold. One of the problems I had with the first movie was that it was heading for a traditional tale of good and bad without any grey characters or unpredictability. But as this movie starts picking up pace, things start going from a traditional tale of black-and-white to an entangled messy political game, which is surprisingly refreshing for a movie targeting the masses. It involves conflict, political rivalry, scheming, comedy, and also a love story (which is decidedly better than the one in the first movie). There are a plenty of goosebumps moments where you feel awe and reverence for the hero as he performs godly feats, but none of them really match the scene in the first movie where he lifts the idol of Lord Shiva to place it at the bottom of a waterfall. As opposed to the first part, this movie benefits from a strong female lead, a brilliantly written character who doesn’t exist just as a love interest, but matters to the story, who voices her opinions fearlessly and knows to stand up for herself. Anushka Shetty brings life to the part of this princesses. The background score and the songs are the soul of the movie, eliciting the whole gamut of emotions from anger to awe to pain, at the right time. Prabhas’s screen presence coupled with his demeanor and acting chops are unmistakably few of the biggest plus points for the movie. Ramya Krishna’s role demands a lot more in this movie than it did in the first, and she rises to the occasion, portraying Shivagami’s ego as well as her vulnerability with finesse. Although I have mixed feelings about the amount of visual effects used, it is undeniable that Baahubali 2 sets a benchmark for Indian VFX, and that everything in the movie looks as beautiful as a painting. But does it look real? Well, I’m not so sure.
The makers of Baahubali had two kinds of ideas: the first were ideas they knew how to accomplish with the tools at their disposal; the second were the ideas that they neither had the budget nor the technology to pull off. They decided to execute both of these. This ends up making some of the scenes in the movie seem very raw and unfinished, and frankly, these frames could have been done away with, without impinging on the grandeur of the movie. Shivagami’s portrayal comes as a stark contrast from her role in the first movie and it’s one of the reasons that the plot is much better than the first movie, but it’s hard to accept such weaknesses in her, with the kind of background that the first movie laid out. The whole saga is not so much about Mahendra as it’s about his father, and the son’s story seems like a mere medium to tell the fathers story, which is by far, the more impressive and majestic one. It also feels like huge chunks of plot, including some crucial details, are left out for us to decipher ourselves. However, I can disregard these errors as minutiae, since they aren’t obtrusive to the experience as such. My only real problem with the movie is that a saga that made you wait two years for a conclusion, just winds up in a matter of seconds, without a well-deserved epilogue that shows you the fate of Maahishmati. The movie packs a lot of content for its run-time and there is no time wasted with unnecessary detours anywhere, but an epilogue of at least two minutes is customary for a movie that has “The Conclusion” in its title.
SS Rajamouli is one of India’s finest directors, and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, is his finest work till date. Despite few dents in its armor, Baahubali 2 is a monumental feat in Indian cinema. I praised Rajamouli for his fine use of exaggerated depictions to elicit wonder in my review of the first movie. That is still intact here, along with an added impact of a more complex and engaging plot. This is a must watch. I rate it 8.5/10.