SS Rajamouli’s most hyped Baahubali 2 has set a benchmark not only in terms of its VFX and action, but also strategic marketing by Dharma Productions. The response in the opening weekend has broken all records, including that of the first Baahubali installment. However, in spite being speculated as India’s answer to Lord of The Rings and Wrath of The Titans, the film lacks a strong narrative. The content reintroduces us to the same Ramayana and Mahabharata folklore. The central character Amarendra Bahubali, played by Prabhas, as the poised and obedient son draws inspiration from Lord Rama, the lover depicted in Krishna-Leela and a just ruler like Yuddhisthir. Ramya as Sivagami is a blend of Yashoda, Kekai and Gandhari. Naseer’s character resembles Manthra, Shakuni and Dhritrashtra while Rana Duggabatti as Bhallala Deva reminds you of Ravana, Kans and Duryodhana.
Indian mythology is undoubtedly a rich heritage of story ideas. But haven’t we seen the same old clichéd content writing time and again. Even a Karan-Arjun or Ram-Lakhan portrays the same good vs evil storyline. The problem with Indian cinema has always been its obsession with black and white concept of idealism. The flawless hero who’s a righteous and down-to-earth human being has to be the core theme of most Indian films. Amarendra Baahubali’s character is a romanticized perfect superhero based upon ‘leaders are born, not made’ philosophy.
In a Hollywood movie, be it Samson and Dellilah, Hercules, Troy or Prince of Persia, the protagonist has some inner conflict before he reaches the summit. Sylvestor Stallone’s character in Rocky has to overcome his psychological limitations as he pushes hard to come out of his comfort zone in order to wrestle a champion. The fact that Baahubali 2 only focuses on the positive traits of its lead characters, be it Prabhas or even Anushka Shetty as Devasena, the movie loses its cohesiveness.
A strong and promising plot requires a scriptwriter to explore all phases of human behaviour during characterisation. The film has some visual effects and action scenes that are definitely at par with Hollywood and would play a key role in getting a cult-classic status for Baahubali 2. On the other hand, a few over-the-top VFX and action makes a mockery of the film as if the movie was more of a video-game. The scene showcasing Mahendra Baahubali using coconut trees as a launchpad for his army to get on top of Mahishmati fort would be remembered as the most unrealistic action scene.
SS Rajamouli has played with a brave idea but lacks vision. The makers have spent more time on designing war sequences, computer graphics and special effects than developing a soulful story idea. In spite of having talented actors like Prabhas, Rana, Naseer, Ramya and Anushka Shetty on board, the film fails to match Aamir Khan’s Dangal in terms of screenplay.
Baahubali 2 has well-written dialogues, excellent art direction, and incredible performances. Its biggest drawback is the screenwriting. Accomplishing a larger-than-life vision requires staying true to the objective. The love sequences in Baahubali 2 are too ‘Sanskaari’ and lack realism. Even Kamal Haasan depicted Indian culture and tradition in his films but always remained ahead of the times. Baahubali franchise is all about valour, chivalry, deceit and vengeance but doesn’t attempt to emphasize on the emotional quotient due to over flooded Matrix-inspired VFX in the film.
In a country where moviegoers prefer a Bajrangi-Bhaijaan over a Masaan, it’s easier to make action-packed popcorn flicks without thinking much about the story idea or narrative.
The lack of an alternate narrative has always been the biggest syndrome of public discourses, debate or dissent. The conceptualisation of a film script in India is devoid of any form of innovative writing in terms of the protagonist or antagonist’s characterization, unlike Hollywood. A Batman movie also shows the tyranny of ‘Joker’ and ‘Two-face’ in their past lives before they turned into evil. Batman, Spiderman, and Logan have their own flaws and fight their inner demons to an extent where they end up committing a sin from the perspective of a sanskaari audience.
Baahubali 2 is a successful VFX attempt but is the same old wine in a new bottle when it comes to the script. It’s time the Indian viewer is taken seriously by film content writers and is spared of sanskaari narratives.