So I went and saw the best grossing film of all time, the mega blockbuster that inspired a million memes and WhatsApp humour. It made warrior kings and proud queens, spectacular sword fights, charging horses, battle strategies and ingenious aerial diving without the Angry Birds really cool again.
Forgive me if I sound like a Game of Thrones fan which I confess I am. Even the names of the characters lyrically roll of your tongue- Daenerys Targaryen, Dhotrakhi, Tyrion Lannister, Stannis Baratheon etc and don’t even get me started on the intricate plot line that leaves me gasping and clutching my heart. Since this post is not about GoT I’m going to stop right now.
This is instead about a movie that tells the story of the original ArmStrong, who came to life on the Indian silver screen time machine, called Baahubali 2.
Yes! I’ve succumbed to the charms of this period drama set in a place straight out of an award wining tourism brochure. The towering redwood trees, a gleaming white palace nestling in glades surrounded by tall snow clad peaks, we see it all in its technicolour glory. Let’s not forget the golden palace of the Kingdom of Mahishmati that glistens like an Aztec pyramid and comes with its attached moat. Since its existence is a miracle of computer sorcery, it is perfectly possible to enter the country by a ship too and watch goggle-eyed a mammoth stone mammoth or maybe it’s just an elephant, straddling the harbour like a colossus from a bygone era.
That’s not all the VFX team did. They pulled all stops to create gigantic battle scenes with catapults and horses and phalanx manoeuvres and sweeping courts where conspiracies were hatched.
I loved the feminist undertone in the film too, the female protagonists proving to be the real movers and shakers who do not need men to fight their battles or rescue them.
The palace intrigues keep you hooked and yet one can’t help marvelling the kingly qualities of honour, bravery and sacrifice. It always tugs your heartstrings when a Prince is ready to give up his kingdom, nay life to side with his beloved. Why even in death he is regal, silhouetted against a raging fire, his arm stretched over Excalibur. Sigh!
Right, so as expected I was all starry eyed when I came out of the theatre. I immediately took on the task of converting other family members into Bahubali worshippers. I feel I did take on the zealousness of a cult recruitment cell to promote Part 1 so that all can fall into my grand plan of racing to see Part 2.
Drawing parallel to the Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, our famous Amar Chitra Katha comics of legend and valour, pulling every nerdy, geeky reference, I finally got the young knight in the house to watch it on telly. Needless to say, I sat alongside to watch. The story is long and the sequel is actually the prequel and we are getting ahead of ourselves. Whew! The excitement was palpable.
And then I wished I hadn’t done it- watched the movie. Nope! This was not how I remember. The waterfall was as stunning as ever and the men strapping and tall with muscles to rival Hulk but watching the antics of Baahubali Junior was uncomfortable.
Seriously, did the makers have to reduce a battle hardened warrior into a simpering girl as soon as Junior makes his presence known. Over a course of one song she falls madly deeply in love and promptly loses her survival skills. She has to be rescued by our He-man who creates an actual avalanche to engineer a quick escape from a troop of determined soldiers.
With a leap of faith and imagination our untrained tribal hero, proficient only in parkour judging by the way he climbs the Niagara Falls, overshadows the highly seasoned soldiers and commanders with his mastery over weapons and horse riding. He singlehandedly rescues all the ladies in the film while folks watch in slack jawed admiration.
The filmy explanation is, he is a chip of the old Amarendra Baahubali block. Well, Baahubali Senior rocked for sure but then he was trained since Kindergarten to be able to channelize the spirit of Hawkeye, Thor, Captain America and Hulk in the battlefield; the genius of Tony Stark to cobble incredible machines was an added bonus.
There was no such learning curve for the son. He decimated competition easily while the ladies either glowered at the other men or watched him in total adoration.
Back home, the young knight who was forced by my sheer enthusiasm to plod through the film of course had no comments to offer. In a perverse way I’m happy he is not keen to see the sequel.
I wonder do we, in real life too, need a sequel to get it right?