SS Rajamouli: Baahubali of Indian cinema

SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2: The conclusion is releasing on Friday all over the world. The magnum opus, touted as the biggest and most spectacular film ever made in India in five languages, is slated to break all the previous records. Cine buffs’ expectations are palpable and they can be gauged from the advance sale of tickets. Is Rajamouli going to be the Baahubali of Indian cinema?

TALKING POINT

Madhusudhana Rao S

The whole country seems to be in the grip of Baahubali fever. On the eve of the release of sequel to Baahubali 1: The Beginning, movie lovers and the media in the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have nothing else to talk except Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.

The hype created by the media and the unprecedented promotions launched by the film producers around the world are as phenomenal as the making of the film. The extraordinary interest the film generated can be attributed to the mystery cleverly embedded in the first part – Why did Kattappa kill Baahubali? The answer has been left to the rich imagination of cine goers and for two years they have been scratching their heads, proffering various explanations.  On Friday, the question that has been tickling millions of Baahubali fans across the world will be answered.

But what unfolds on thousands of screens in India and the US and Canada is more than un-riddling of a puzzle: A world that has never been presented to Indian cine audience by a director who is mostly known to only South Indians; a fantasy woven around characters who spring to life straight from Indian mythological stories depicting valour, honour, gallantry, among others; the fabled opulence and grandeur of ancient kingdoms, internecine battles for power and glory, clannish treachery, et al.

In other words, Rajamouli and his team have explored a world that is limited to folklore and mythology and projected it on to the screen in all its splendor. It’s a feat few producers and directors have ventured to do on such a grand scale as to rival Hollywood masterpieces of yesteryear.

Baahubali is comparable to The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Avatar, which have wowed the audience worldwide in recent years for their story narrative, visual effects, cinematography, etc. But Baahubali excels in other departments, particularly song and dance which is the forte of Indian cinema in any language.

Baahubali 2 is being touted as bigger than its prequel and more spectacular than any other Indian film made so far. Without budget constraints and commitment to perfection, Rajamouli’s magnum opus has already broken several records and is going to set many others in the coming days.

For the record, Baahubali 2 will have the biggest ever release in India – about 6,500 screens readied for the show– and in almost all the theatres, including multiplexes, it is the only film to have five or six shows every day at least for a couple of weeks. In the US and Canada, where the film will hit 2,500 screens, the rate of advance booking sale is said to be $ 100,000 per hour! Considering the fact that Baahubali 2 is being released in five languages at the same time — Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam – its box office collections could surpass Rs 1000 crores, making it the first Indian movie to cross that mark.

In the last few days, the rage for the film has been such that when theatres started online booking, tickets had been sold out in a few hours despite the fact that Andhra Pradesh had given permission for cinemas to run six shows per screen per day and Telangana five. Scorching day temperature has not deterred Baahubali fans from standing in long queues to get tickets for any available show. It’s a different matter some might have sweated it out in heat and dust outside cinema halls to make a killing in the black market.

The mega budget, star-studded action-filled film with eye-popping sets and props shot with special effects is set to open a new chapter in the Indian cinema. Indeed, we have come a long way from the era of silent movies to mastering digital technology to enhance our audio-visual experience of cinema manifold. And, the credit goes to SS Rajamouli. He is truly the Baahubali of Indian cinema.

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