‘Bahubali’: Visual appeal overrides script

MUMBAI: Telugu filmmaker, SS Rajamouli is known for his numerous hit films. He is also known for his penchant for special effects. Indeed, two of his films, Magadheera and Eaga, have won National Awards for Best Special Effects. Rajamouli’s latest film, Bahubali, is a very ambitious venture shot simultaneously in Telugu and Tamil and dubbed in Malayalam and Hindi. 

The film is a fantasy that reminds one of Hollywood classics like Ben Hur, Spartacus, Ten Commandments and such. Closer home, it has its roots in epics like Mahabharat: it is about family politics, intrigues, betrayals and revenge. 

Bahubali is a two part film. As the first installment releases today, the ‘saga’ will continue and conclude in its second part in April 2016.

The story is a bit confusing as it unfolds. First you try to figure out who is playing who since the cast is all South based. Then you join the dots on relations and later the plot. However, you are kept occupied with wonderland kind of locations created with some imaginative special effects. But, the expertise does not prevent the film from giving it an artificial look, pleasant as it may look.

There is a kingdom, which was ruled by Prabhas. After his death, Nasser wants infant son Rana Daggubati be the heir to the throne, but Ramya Krishnan, Nasser’s wife, wants to play it fair and puts Prabhas’ infant too in the succession race (also played by Prabhas). She decrees that of both the infants, the one who excels in all aspects of bravery and warfare, will be the next king. 

Prabhas has been brought up by the childless Rohini. He was found by her people on the river bank. What worries Rohini is that Prabhas is always curious about what exists beyond the grand waterfalls around his abode. He makes attempts to breach them on a regular basis. One day, he finds a mask that has fallen from the mountains from where the waterfalls emerge. This convinces him that there are people across the waterfalls and upon the hills. This inspires Prabhas to reach there and soon he does everything that a film hero is supposed to do: fall in love, kill hundreds of people single handed, go into flashback, identify his enemies, and decide to wait till part two of this ambitious ‘saga’ to get even! 

South makers are known to extensively try to work on technical wizardry while not forgetting Indian emotions of which maa- beta emotions are the most prevalent. A la Karan Arjun, where Rakhee keeps averring, ‘Mere Karan Arjun aayenge’, here Prabhas’ screen mother, Anushka  Shetty, is convinced, ‘Mera baahubali aayega’ for over 25 years! She is also made up to look like Rakhee of Karan Arjun. 

The nostalgia value in Baahubali is that it takes you back to many past films worth watching again! 

The script takes a backseat in this visual enterprise. The director is so obsessed with technique that he lets numerous glitches pass where a sleeveless wear turns to full sleeves and vice versa and forehead tikkas keep changing colours and so on. 

Musically, for the Hindi audience, the film has one melodious song. What stands out in the film is music composer MM Kreem’s orchestration and the sound design. Production values are of high order. Dialogue is routine while in such a film verbal battles mean a lot to the viewers. Editing needed to be crisper. Background score in good. 

Not much to say about the performances as the film is more about visuals, effects and ambition. However, Tamannah is impressive.

Dubbed films with South actors find little favour with Hindi film audience and the response to Bahubali will taper down as it moves northwards.

Producers: Shobu Yarlagadda, Prasad, Devineni.

Direction: SS Rajamouli.

Cast: Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Tamannaah, Anushka Shetty, Ramya Krishnan, Nasser.     

‘I Love NY’: Forced comedy

The title is a bit confusing as you don’t quite know if it means "I Love New Year" or "I Love New York" as it is set in the American city on New Year’s Eve. The film was shot in the US in the days when shooting there was the in thing. What's more, though the movie has been in the cans for about five years, it sports the look of a film that was made fifty years ago. 

The romance is between Sunny Deol and Kangana Ranaut and the age difference between the two is about 35 years! At the time when it was shot, neither was Kangana the star she is today nor was Sunny the star he was two decades back! So, Kangana’s recent success is the reason the producers, T-Series, finally decided to venture into releasing the film to public. It is a written off investment being presented for encashment in any case!

The directors, Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru are known for their success with directing videos for TV and have also choreographed some film songs. However, they have not been lucky or so proficient in directing movies. Their last film, Lucky: No Time For Love, released a decade back, failed despite having Salman Khan in the lead. 

Sunny Deol and Kangana Ranaut end up together though they are from different cities - Chicago and New York. It is new year's eve and this is a one night story. Though both have their own priorities when it comes to relationships, they eventually end up falling in love.

This is a romantic comedy, the kind Sunny is not quite cut out for. Kangana does okay but here the emphasis seems to be more on Sunny. The director duo is not in their element here. With little known supporting cast, the film has no distractions. 

It has opened to a very poor response with shows being cancelled due to lack of minimum mandatory number of audience needed to screen a film.

Producers: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar.

Directors: Vinay Sapru, Radhika Rao.

Cast: Sunny Deol, Kangana Ranaut. 

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