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Baahubali: The Conclusion – a larger than larger-than-life extravaganza

SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster is on its way to breach the Rs 1,000 crore-mark in worldwide collections, but more than that, it is likely to spur filmmakers to aim for the sky

Kunal Purandare
Published: 06, May 2017

A journalist for over a decade, I am also the author of Vinod Kambli: The Lost Hero, a biography of the former India cricketer. Apart from my love for news and writing, I am passionate about cricket, movies and music

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A Baahubali poster at a theatre in Mumbai. (Image: Joshua Navalkar)

Baahubali: The Conclusion could pave a new beginning for Indian cinema. Filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s ambitious saga is creating havoc at the box office, shattering records in India and overseas with relative ease almost daily since it released on April 28. The film has been a monster money-spinner, collecting Rs 860 crore worldwide as of May 5, according to koimoi.com website, just a week after it began with a bang by amassing Rs 121 crore on the first day – the highest inaugural day earner in India.

The story of two warring cousins – Baahubali (Prabhas) and Bhallala (Rana Dagubatti) – in the kingdom of Mahishmati has captured the imagination of cinegoers who are paying exorbitant amounts to watch the drama unfold on celluloid. The sequel to the 2015 hit Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) released in 9,000 screens worldwide, almost three times more than the first part (3,600 screens in India), indicating the unprecedented frenzy it has generated. The suspense and the hype surrounding ‘Why Kattappa killed Baahubali?’ on which the sequel hinged made it a much-anticipated film, but that’s not the only reason that has the audience flocking to the theatres in droves.

The Tamil-Telugu drama, which has also been dubbed into Hindi, is a special film that will probably go down as a landmark movie in the annals of Indian cinema. Rajamouli has attempted something that has never been done before and turned an idea into a picture of brilliance. And the box office has handsomely rewarded his spectacular vision.

The sheer scale and grandeur of the epic have got people within and outside the film fraternity singing its praises. Baahubali: The Conclusion is a larger than larger-than-life portrayal of an imaginary tale with special effects that offer the audience an experience to savour.

Whether it’s the scene where Prabhas teaches Devasena the art of firing multiple arrows at once or a peacock-shaped ship gliding on the seas suddenly soaring in the sky, the film is visually spectacular. Bollywood, and even films down South, have at times relied on special effects for the ‘wow effect’, but have fallen woefully short of expectations. Baahubali shows how they ought to be executed.

Now in its second week, the film continues to make history – it has already surpassed the lifetime collections of the 2014 Aamir Khan-starrer PK (Rs 792 crore worldwide). It overtook Dangal (2016) in just four days as far as the US box office collections are concerned. The Hindi version of the film has earned Rs 375 crore in six days. And trade analysts expect the film to breach the Rs 1,000 crore-mark in the coming days. The monetary success comes just months after Dangal became Bollywood’s highest grosser and augurs well for the business of cinema in general.

However, the impressive statistics apart, Baahubali: The Conclusion should encourage filmmakers to take risks and let their imagination soar. It isn’t just about competing with Hollywood in terms of scale, but also elevating the kind of cinema that’s dished out to viewers in the country.

For far too long, mediocrity has passed off as benchmark in Bollywood. It’s time we respect the audiences and pay them their money’s worth without compromising on the entertainment quotient. There’s potential to create magic, the way Rajamouli has with a simple story. Actors, too, can be at the forefront of bringing about a change in the way stories are told. Prabhas, for instance, invested five years of his life for the two instalments of the Baahubali franchise. That sincerity is hard to miss on screen.

The film may have its shortcomings – it’s arduously long with a running time of close to three hours, the romance could have been depicted better and the plot fails to evince interest at times – but it is still worth the effort. This extravagant fairytale is indication that a dream vision can turn into a successful reality.