A LOT! That’s how much I Love Bahubali. (Is it Baahubali or Bahubali??) It is one of my favorite films of all time, not just of Indian films.
My next door neighbor Nish two years ago asked if I’d want to go to this South Indian film her coworkers had said was really good. Sure. I’m in. Then we go and the price was $20! Twice the normal movie ticket price. “This better be worth 20 bucks!”
Oh. My. Gosh. It SO was. I unabashedly fell in love with the film, and I ended up seeing it 4 times in the theater alone. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen the film since it became available on Youtube. I own the Hindi dub on Blu-ray, but I can’t really stand to watch it without my beloved Prabhas’ own voice. (For the love of all that is holy Rajamouli, make the Telugu available on Blu-Ray!!)
This image was my Ipad lock screen for two years, until I replaced it with a new image from Bahubali 2. I fell in love with Prabhas from this movie, and now own several of his films on DVD.
I was captivated, jaw hanging open from the opening sequence with that huge waterfall and the kick-ass queen fighting two soldiers with an arrow sticking out of her back — while holding a newborn!
The visuals in this film just knocked my socks off. I don’t know how many times I watched the Dhivara video! I explain this film to people who don’t watch Indian film as The Lord of the Rings of Indian Cinema. It’s mythic and grand in scale with fantastic CGI world building. S. S. Rajamouli is quite simply a genius filmmaker. He has a huge vision, and he’s one up on Peter Jackson because he wrote the damn story himself, instead of just adapting a series of books.
After I saw Bahubali, I sought out Rajamouli’s other films, and I was even more gobsmacked. Who else but the master, S. S. Rajamouli would reincarnate his hero as a FLY?
Even his early film Chatrapathi with Prabhas showed crazy imagination. Prabhas introduction scene has him fighting a SHARK!
Bahubali has amazingly compelling characters. Prabhas even gets to play two! Shivu and his father Bahubali in the flashback second half. My personal favorite is the queen Sivagami, who raises both her own son Bhalla and Bhahubali:
This scene after she squashes a rebellion, knifes an attacker while holding a newborn (!!) and then nurses both infants after mounting the throne is my favorite! I love her!
Rajamouli has made a film with strong women characters even though the main thrust of the narrative is Prabhas’s story, both as Shivu and Bahubali. Yes, there is that problematic scene that some call a rape, but my first take was the same as Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood’s. Tamannah’s warrior is living a harsh life devoid of beauty and joy, and Shivu delights in showing her beauty and love. And that sexy nibble of her jewelry on her belly gets me every. single. time.
I love all the music of the original Bahubali film, and tortured my family by listening to the soundtrack non-stop for weeks and watching the videos over and over. Especially Manohari.
The film does have a few flaws. For my birthday last summer, I sat down my two younger sons and had them watch the film with me -the only Indian film they’ve ever seen. (Mother’s Day this year will be all three of my sons going to the theater to see Bahubali 2. I’ve warned them this is my present!) My son Zach really liked the Avantika character, but then was upset that she just gets that hurt ankle, and as he put it, “Then, nothing!” I’m holding out some hope she will have a strong part in the Bahubali 2, but the trailer seems to mostly emphasize the romance with Anushka from Bahuabli’s past.
And then there’s the racism. Really, Rajamouli? Actual blackface on the villain Kalakeya tribe? Ugh.
The battle scene in the second half also goes on for a very, very long time. Yes, it’s super cool, but frankly, I’m more interested in these characters than watching Gladiator movie style battles go on and on.
Watching Bahubali set me on a journey of watching more Telugu films, starting first with the older films of Prabhas and Rajamouli. I’ve learned about comedy uncles, and machete fight ratings, and on. I kind of like all the violence and the machismo and larger than life Telugu star heroes. The comedy uncles I could mostly do without, to be honest.
I even dragged Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood to her first showing of Bahubali (No, you HAVE to see this one!) and then she surpassed me by seeing it what, SEVEN times in the theater alone?
The first Bahubali movie was such a phenomenon. All over India, and all over the world. It’s been a long wait, but tomorrow I will finally learn #WKKB – Why Kattappa Killed Bahubali! I have my $40 IMAX ticket purchased already to the first day, first matinee show of Bahubali 2 at my local theater. I am beyond excited that it is releasing on IMAX!