It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that ‘Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion’ is guffawing away any other record made by any other film previously, in India. Whether or not you are enthusiastic about epic sagas, you got to admit that there’s something uncannily august about this impressive narration. Probably the grandeur? Probably the untasted royalism? Or probably a scale of visual treatment we rarely witness in Indian films.
The intention, however, is not to write a chronicle of its box office success. Rather, it is about time Bollywood discerned the success of ‘Baahubali’ franchise.
Over the past years, Bollywood has been undergoing perceptible evolutions; in terms of content of cinema, treatment of stories, experimental technical aspects and what not? But at the end, the perspectives still seem to be trapped in a labyrinth, as we meekly buy the easy success formulas of a film and try to justify why a film did or did not work out. ‘Baahubali’ franchise, however, is shaking the conventional rationale behind a film’s success or failure.
The ‘superstar value’ is simply not applicable for either ‘Baahubali’ or ‘Baahubali 2’; at least when it releases in four languages. True, it features Prabhas who has been in Telugu film industry for over a decade. Further true, it has Rana Daggubati playing the antagonist; someone who in seven years of his career had created a demonstrated filmography for himself. None, however, are known as conventional crowd-pullers. How sad! Bollywood, on the other hand, keeps looking for a Khan or a Kumar or at least an A-lister to carry a film on their shoulders. This immoderate dependence on star value in Bollywood does more than one harm to our cinema. First, any film lacking an A-lister has the chance not to work out. Because, we, the Indian audience, are usually way too adamant to take risks, go the theatre, spend money and give a shot to lesser known actors. Second, as and when a big film does not work out, you comfortably manifest it as the concerned star’s failure. Not justified!
As a professional who is required to closely observe the developments in showbiz, I am often both surprised and shocked at how makers fight over important holidays. Sitting into early 2017, you know who is this year’s Diwali release going to belong to. More than often, there are ugly clashes between two or more leagues, trying to capture one date. With time, those conflicts only turn uglier, and many of Bollywood’s big banners are often a part of it. You might argue that an investor would naturally seek best ways to recover his money and a filmmaker would try to draw as much footfall as possible. We vehemently agree. Where are we missing the point then?
‘Baahubali 2’ is the freshest example of what a film’s success could look like. It’s not just about the X-crore club you manage to slip into, but also the scale of frenzy you put your viewers into. With no ‘superstar’ and no assistance of a festive season, this film puts on display that the accurate content can have a weekday 8 a.m. show all houseful.
Ever wondered why, even at the age of most experimental films, web series and short films, ‘Mahabharata’ still runs on Television? We, in general, are in love with anything and everything that reminds us of our glorious past. We hog on to anything that brings us the smell of glorious wars fought centuries back, the royal lives we’ve only read about and an illustrious history that has formed much of our present. The values that mankind has been nurturing for many centuries, all incepted from various events. Nothing pleases us more when we are taken back to the nascent stage of civilisation. Whether pleasant or unpleasant, those characters never fail to develop a sense of familiarity. Almost all our rituals celebrate the win of good over evil. Pay close attention to any epic, and you’d find the same happening. Epics are an intense attempt to take us many centuries back and place us amid a story that looks different but feels ever-relevant. SS Rajamouli, when he began working on the first part of the franchise, probably underwent piles of research, But over all, he believed this content was going to work. No, Bollywood does not have to walk the same way every time. But, it sure has to be more diverse. If an epic saga can work out, so can a sci-fi or a superhero film. But when will Bollywood move over its usuals?
Keep content aside. Indian filmmakers seem way too reluctant in investing in sky-high technicalities. Indian cinema caters to and covers a large section to society and their stories, but all amid a poor technical treatment. Talent is not what we lack, elements are not what we lack. What we lack are greater visions and bigger investments at right places. Given a population of 130 crore, India has the potential to become the world’s largest film-market. The position is instead acquired by US. Technical and financial privileges are not the reasons why US conquered it. The precise reason is, they dared to experiment. China, on the other hand, grows on to become world’s second largest market for films. Will we still bank our money on nothing else but big names, done-and-dusted ways of storytelling, stuck in many uncertainties?
It’s time for an introspection!