Baahubali 2 Movie Review: Prabhas in a film still
do just that, but as was the case in the first installment, the battle sequences are interminable and fatiguing. The film as a whole, and not just the all-out climactic war that breaks out between a good army and an evil one, demands an awful amount of suspension of disbelief. Especially superfluous are some portions of the love story involving Amarendra Baahubali (Prabhas) and a beautiful princess Devasena (Anushka Shetty). They render the first half exasperatingly sluggish. In the second half the film gathers some momentum but never manages to free itself from the spirit of randomness that informs its core.
, represent status quo cinema at its most brazen. It propagates archaic notions of the divine right of the ruler and the inescapable fate of the ruled - "
and Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas) declare at different points in the film.
Baahubali 2 Movie Review: Ramya Krishnan in a film still
In Rajamouli's universe, the royal brood occupies a higher moral plane than the people that they govern and it, as a matter of right, thrusts its religious rituals - one of which requires the queen to walk all the way to a temple many furlongs away with fire on her head to ensure the kingdom's invincibility. Through the film, there is talk of agni prasthan
, Vijayadashami, Krishna puja and Vaastu dosham, among other loftily pure notions and it travels from the top down. The people of Mahishmathi, including the brave and invincible Katappa, are a subjugated lot - they swear unquestioning and unswerving allegiance to the king. The only distinction that they make is between good and evil. Baahubali is good, Bhallala Deva (Rana Daggubati) isn't. No other nuances are allowed in this cut-and-dried landscape.
Baahubali 2 Movie Review: Rana Daggubati in a film still
It is disconcerting when segments of the audience whistle, cheer and clap when blood is drawn, a severed head is displayed, bodies are impaled on the battlefield or a man has his throat slashed with a scimitar in broad daylight. Nor is that all. Baahubali 2 also pushes troubling ideas of masculinity, motherhood, fealty of subordinates, codes of honour and the valour of warriors, all the while upholding the appeal of the cult of violence and blood feuds.
While Avantika (Tamannaah Bhatia) is reduced to an extra
, Devasena, the Kshatriya princess of a small kingdom has a big part to play in Baahubali 2
. The girl is proud of her lineage. She is as proficient with a bow and arrow as she is with a sword. But she isn't above social expectations that are reserved for women in this film's culture of conservatism. Somebody suggests that her family should much rather be focusing on finding her a bridegroom than letting her hone her battle skills "like the men".
Baahubali 2 Movie Review: Anushka Shetty in Baahubali: The Conclusion
And when the stage is set for Devasena to accompany the besotted hero to Mahishmathi as his bride, the latter assures her sister-in-law: "Nischint rahiye ab yeh meri zimmedari hai
(Rest assured, she is my responsibility from now on). Really? Devasena is as good a thrust-and-parry artist as any
Even in strictly technical terms, Baahubali: The Conclusion
is glaringly uneven. Some of the CGI is breathtakingly fabulous, and some rather ordinary, if not outright tacky. The animals, particularly the bulls and the elephants, look like stuffed toys. Many of the backdrops conjured up for the action have a papier mache or cardboard feel.
When the key revelation about Katappa's 'treachery' is sprung upon us, it does not quite catch us by surprise. Presented as a fait accompli, it is terribly underwhelming. It turns out that the hook that held us in thrall all these months is after all no big deal.
But, all said and done, Rajamouli is an exceptional storyteller and craftsman. He packs just enough into this magnum opus for his fan base for the film not be dismissed merely as a hollow extravaganza. It is in excess that the strength of Baahubali 2
lies and it makes no bones about it, take it or lump it.
Verdict: Baahubali 2
is more of the same - actually, a great deal more of the same - minus the soul of the original. But the packed houses are bound to tell another story. Katappa has done his bit.