Baahubali 2 (2017)

Baahubali 2, to an even greater extent than its wildly successful predecessor Baahubali (2015), broke all the records for Indian films in India and abroad, for both expense and box office receipts, if Wikipedia is to be believed. This lavish CGI-heavy epic was made not in Mumbai but in Hyderabad—with an entirely South Indian cast and recorded in a South Indian language (two, actually: Telugu and Tamil).

Though the name of the main character is the name of a Jain saint, and the whole thing feels like it’s based on a myth, my impression is that the story is original.

The movie is long, at over 160 minutes, and includes 18 minutes of songs that reinforce, rather than convey, the plot.

Speaking of plot: This second movie serves as both prequel and sequel to the first. I wish I knew why the story wasn’t made into a trilogy; the first part is called Baahubali: The Beginning, and the second part is called Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. (Is it just me, or is that really odd?)

I liked the first half of Baahubali 2, in which the violence is stylized and the hero is victorious, better than the second half, which is more somber and much bloodier, and whose final battle is fought by the main character of the first movie, which I didn’t see.

My favorite sequence was the big battle in the small mountain kingdom, which involved a lot of impressive if exaggerated feats of martial arts.

The scene in which the hero and heroine defend a hallway by shooting three arrows at a time reminded me strongly of the lobby scene in The Matrix. It’s the same idea (boy meets girl, boy fights enemies with girl, enemies all die); only the costumes, props, and colors are different.

Do I compare every movie I see with The Matrix? Yeah, maybe.

If you favor subtlety over spectacle, Baahubali 2 is not for you. Characters’ jealousies, realizations, and thoughts more often than not manifest in spoken words. The characters’ actions, too, are often explained in the dialog. For example, it’s not enough to succeed in framing someone for treason, you also have to tell him you’ve just framed him for treason, even if the next thing you do is kill him.

I don’t think anyone could succeed in making a parody of the movie by exaggerating its notable features; they’re already over the top. Wait, hang on, Robin Hood: Men in Tights did have Robin shooting six arrows at once… if you haven’t taken it up to eleven, there’s always farther to go.

Anyway, overall, I thought Baahubali 2 was worth seeing because it was so spectacular.