Director: S.S. Rajamouli (Eega)
Writers: S.S. Rajamouli, Vijayendra Prasad
Producer: Prasad Devineni
Starring: Rana Daggubati, Satyaraj, Prabhas, Anushka Shetty, Tamannaah Bhatia
MPAA Rating: G
Running time: 159 min.
The original posting of this review can be found at Malaysian Blogger/Journalist Allan Koay’s website, The Storyboard
Some years ago, when Aamir Khan’s Ghajini came out, a friend of mine was all excited to see it solely because it was a remake of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, which was one of his favourite films. He did, and came away sorely disappointed, even though it generated positive reviews, achieved blockbuster status in India and did well around the world. The problem was, he had gone to the movie expecting it to be like Memento, but was met with the usual Hindi song-and-dance and melodrama.
The problem was, he didn’t understand Indian cinema.
The film industry in India is one of the biggest, most prolific in the world. Forbes reported that 1,602 films were produced in 2012 alone. The Indian film industry is also completely self-sustaining. By number of tickets alone, Bollywood outsells even Hollywood (even though Hollywood revenues remain unmatched).
So, why did that friend of mine not get Indian films?
The massive juggernaut that is Baahubali, the Telugu/Tamil fantasy epic directed by S.S. Rajamouli, has a story that we’ve come to be all too familiar with – the rivalry between a good king and his evil brother who usurps the throne while the good king’s son escapes death as an infant only to return as an adult to avenge his father. Yet the film works, for two reasons. One, it is well-directed, imaginative, a barrel of fun and is genuinely exciting. And two, it is appropriately over-the-top, melodramatic and fearlessly idiosyncratic in the grand, old Indian-cinema tradition.
The film also uses Hollywood fantasy-epic conventions, such as two colliding hordes on a battlefield and stylish slo-mo’s, something we’ve seen over and over and should now be a tiresome staple of big battle scenes. But in the hands of Rajamouli, there are many refreshing twists and turns in Baahubali‘s 45-minute battle where everything that happens advances the story, unlike in a Hollywood film where big battles are mostly just for showing off CGI.
Yet, I knew I wasn’t just seeing an Indian-cinema version of a Hollywood fantasy epic. What I was experiencing was quite something else. I started to think about why I like Indian cinema and what draws me to it.
Like no other cinema in the world.
Mainstream Indian films work according to their own rules and by their own logic. They are like no other mainstream films in the world. In fact, Indian mainstream cinema is like no other in the world.
Would you like to know more…?