Sometimes all that pre-release talk of the scale of a movie can make you a bit wary. Like a guy on a date bragging about how much money he has—makes you wonder what he’s compensating for. Baahubali inspired a similar dread. The makers spent over Rs 250 crore on this film, which turned out to be of such a sprawling length that it’s being released in two parts. And in the weeks before release there was a lot of talk about its huge-ass poster. You know what they say about a guy with a big car.
But we needn’t have worried. Baahubali is fun and delivers almost everything you’d expect from a big-budget swashbuckler: good-looking actors, magnificent landscapes, thrilling fights and a couple of nicely done beheadings. Plus, casual sexism and racism. Here are three reasons to watch the film, and two reasons to stay far away.
Three reasons to watch the film:
Really pissed-off women
While the men are useful at fighting wars and moving boulders, it’s the fury of the women that really moves this story along. The queen, played by Ramya Krishna, is tough as nails and impressively bloodthirsty when faced with a war. The scene where she presides over the court while breast-feeding two babies is all kinds of badass. Then there’s the hero’s militant love interest, played by Tamannaah Bhatia, who’s clearly the class-topper in her terrorist cell. Most terrifying of all is the imprisoned queen Devasena, played by Anushka Shetty. She’s Baahubali’s mother and her bitter rage makes his brawny lingam-wielding ass look like a big, soft teddy bear.
Big beefy guys
The nice thing about movies set in ancient times is that the scriptwriters don’t have to come up with a reason for the hero to take off his shirt. The results of all those protein shakes and hours at the gym are on display throughout and you’re encouraged to ogle. After all, Baahubali’s biceps are kind of the point of this whole production. Plus, Rana Daggubati earns his place on the Men With Beards Pinterest board.
Twist in the tale
The first half kind of ambles and has an unnecessary dream sequence and song. (Tangent: why does every hero in a Telugu movie have to bounce his head off the heroine’s midriff before landing on her chest? Is the navel a secret portal to sexual delight? What do Telugu heroes know that we don’t?) But things really pick up in the second half, despite the drag of an item song. Villains start to come into focus, Baahubali finds his purpose—freeing Devasena and finding out why she’s so pissed off—and this story of revenge starts growing legs. But a plot twist stops things from getting too predictable.
Two reasons to give this a miss:
After the hero spends some time stalking the heroine and creepily drawing on her, they finally meet. She’s angry enough to kill him. But even though she is this formidable fighter who lops off a guy’s head in her first scene, he reacts to her attack as if he’s watching a toddler throwing a tantrum. Because it’s cute when the ladies think they can fight. And then as they grapple, he rips off her clothes and restyles her to be all sexy. He’s very thorough and even does hair and makeup, groping her against her will. Then she falls in love with him because how to resist a stalker/groper.
The kingdom of Mahismati, to which Baahubali belongs, is under threat from a large intimidating army. Several racist stereotypes combine to create this battalion of barbaric, dark-skinned fighters whose language is punctuated with clicking sounds. Unlike the fair-skinned army of righteousness, they have no finer feelings and are barely human. Is this what it takes to make our heroes look good?
Flip through the gallery for more stills from the movie
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