It's hard to review a movie, when you know that the makers aren't done with the story when the end credits start rolling. They are of course, only setting things up for an epic conclusion. How do you, then, sift through what has been kept under-wraps and what has been left hanging to your imagination? Bahubali: The beginning is only one part of a two part tale.
The story here is pretty much a template plot for brewing up a revenge saga. Bahubali: The Beginning is about the history of the kingdom of Mahishmati, where two cousins compete for the throne. Both equally skilled, powerful and clever. It's hard to declare one the king, without doing injustice to the other. But amongst the two cousins, one is good (Bahubali) and the other evil (Bhalaldev), while one cares about the kingdom the other only cares about destroying the enemy. In present day, the good prince (Bahubali) has been killed, with the evil one at the throne, torturing his kingdom into submission. Bahubali's son is our central character. Smuggled out of Mahishmati as a baby and raised by the village tribals, He is completely unaware of his royal lineage and finds himself in a situation where he must know who he really is.
If Bahubali's Central plot is simple, the treatment it gets is anything but that. Slick Computer Generated Imagery and a grand landscape setup form what is, one of the most engaging movie watching experiences I've had in the recent times. S.S. Rajamouli's imagination is top notch. He carefully blends reality with lumps of comic-book Superhero flair. He's well accompanied by the amazing CGI which is carefully used an seamlessly blends into the real world. In one of the early scenes in the movie, our protagonist climbs a stunning waterfall with the help of a kedge sent from a bow and anchored to a tree at the top of the cliff. The scene was perhaps the highest point in Bahubali's GGI, it was so convincing, that to anyone not aware of the fact that the movie is using extensive CGI it would have seemed like a real stunt on a waterfall that big.
The second half of Bahubali, much faster and engaging, is filled with epic war visuals and expansive landscapes. The war visuals are well executed. The thirty minute war has a nail biting finish. But what truly works for the war though, are the visuals, the carefully planned defense strategy, the reckless massacre of the enemy's army and the frankly too high-tech a weapon for its time, all get the extra sheen on brilliance due to the graphics.
Amongst actors, Prabhas, in a double role, as Bahubali and his son Shivudu is pretty impressive. Rana Duggabati does his menacing act nicely but it's Sathyaraj, as the able warrior Katappa who steels the show here, watch him in that scene where he dismisses an Arab Sheikh's greatest sword, calling it too slow for his skill, you'd never imagine such swiftness coming out of the character.
Bahubali : The Beginning can best be described as a visual storytelling experience. You are not watching it for an extremely complex or perplexing screenplay, you don't care what language the movie is playing in or that it's dubbed in another (in fact you wouldn't even notice the dubbing Sync issues because of everything else that's going on in the movie). With Bahubali, just like with Avatar and Intersteller you are sitting to experience a story and S.S. Rajamouli deftly tells you a simple tale set in a stunning landscape, in a way that's highly engaging. And they leave the first part at such a cliffhanger that I just can't wait for the conclusion.
Rating: **** (Watch it in a Theatre)