Indian film “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion”, which is the following second half to “Baahubali: The Beginning” (2015), does more than delivering whatever was promised by its predecessor. Besides being gleefully overblown and exaggerated as required during its many highlight moments, the movie also brings some engaging human elements to its ambitious epic drama, and the result is not only more serious but also quite more entertaining on the whole.
First, let me summarize a bit about what was presented in “Baahubali: The Beginning”. While it initially follows how its young hero played by Prabhas gets himself into a political turmoil surrounding one big and powerful kingdom and then comes to realize his hidden birthright to the throne, the movie later comes to pay more attention to the life story of his father who was a highly respected prince and warrior (He is also played by Prabhas, by the way), and that is where the movie becomes more entertaining. While I will never, never, never forget that early scene where a baby is lifted above water by a single arm, I was also impressed much by a number of outrageously fun moments of supercharged action later in the film, and that was more than enough for me to overlook its numerous glaring artificial aspects including its rather tacky CGI.
Anyway, “Baahubali: The Conclusion” continues the story right after the very end of its predecessor. After demonstrating not only his valor but also considerable compassion during one spectacular battle, the prince is chosen as the future ruler of the kingdom by his aunt who has overseen the kingdom on behalf of him and her son, and her son, who has fiercely competed against him for many years, is naturally not so pleased about that. While courteously accepting his mother’s decision on the surface, he begins to scheme behind his back along with his father, who has also been quite discontent due to not having much power in contrast to his wife.
Meanwhile, the prince and his loyal slave solider Katappa (Sathyaraj) begin an unofficial journey around several other kingdoms. When they subsequently drop by one particular small kingdom, they happen to see a bunch of bandits being suppressed by a group of local soldiers, and the prince comes to spot a young noble lady who turns out to be more active and courageous than expected. She is a princess of that kingdom, and, having already quite smitten with her, the prince decides to get closer to her while maintaining his humble disguise as before.
During this part, we are initially amused by a series of comic moments coupled with an obligatory musical sequence, but, of course, things later get more serious when the princess, feistily played by Anushka Shetty, refuses the marriage arranged by the prince’s aunt. While he eventually comes to reveal himself after one impressive action sequence involved with lots of water as well as a pack of buffaloes, the prince has no choice but to bring the princess to his kingdom as ordered by his aunt, and he eventually comes to show more of not only his deep love toward his princess but also his strong sense of honor and integrity in front of the princess and many others.
While we already know where the story is heading, the screenplay by director S.S. Rajamouli, which is developed from the story by V. Vijayendra Prasad, keeps holding our attention as its plot gets thickened with some insidious court intrigue. After being reminded again of how popular the prince really is in the kingdom, his villainous cousin, played by Rana Daggubati with overpowering intensity as before, wants to get rid of the prince once for all, and the mood becomes more ominous as he deliberately pushes his mother and Katappa into an impossible circumstance later in the story. What follows next is utterly melodramatic to say the least with many big moments of exaggerated emotions and gestures, but the committed supporting performances from Ramya Krishnan and Sathyaraj keep this part grounded enough to make us care about what inevitably happens in the story.
In comparison, the next part focusing on how the son of the prince tries to avenge for his parents and then regain what is rightfully his is relatively less interesting. Although he is not exactly that experienced compared to his father, he somehow can not only galvanize those rebel soldiers but also concoct some smart strategies for his important battle within a very short time, and that certainly requires considerable suspension in disbelief from us.
Nevertheless, the movie still maintains its irrepressible sense of fun and excitement even during this part, and we are served with heaps of actions cheerfully peppered with CGI on the screen. In case of a certain gigantic statue shown in the previous film, it does not disappoint us at all as dutifully following that familiar dramatic principle called Chekhov’s gun, and the following duel of fate between the two main characters of the story amuses and thrills us a lot before the expected fiery payoff moment.
In conclusion, “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” is broad and overblown in many aspects just like its predecessor, but it is often quite entertaining thanks to the game efforts from Rajamouli and his cast and crew members. To be frank with you, I often could not keep my face straight while watching “Baahubali: The Beginning” and “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion” due to their numerous silly and preposterous moments, but these moments are presented with considerable style and skill in addition to being spirited and spectacular enough, and it is a shame that I watched them at my home instead of beholding them on big screen.