Baahubali 2: The Conclusion's success could teach the Indian film industry these five lessons
The unprecedented buzz surrounding SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali 2: The Conclusion (also spelt as Baahubali) turned out to be a tsunami at the box-office on the first day of its release. It’s the first movie in recent years to earn the tag of a ‘national film’ and several reports suggest that it is poised to take an earth-shattering opening at the box-office throughout the country. While it remains to be seen how well the film does in terms of numbers, here are five lessons that Indian film industry could learn from Bahubali 2’s success.
1. What’s Your ‘Why’?
For the past few months, Bahubali 2’s publicity campaign revolved around the theme of ‘Why did Kattappa killed Baahubali?’. The question inspired several theories and memes ever since Bahubali: The Beginning released, and the constant buzz about the question ensured that there was enough curiosity among people when it came to awaiting Bahubali 2’s release. In a way, it was one of the reasons why people flocked to theatres. There was a genuine desire to know the answer. To put it in perspective, it’s a question that every filmmaker and producer needs to address right at the inception. Why should people watch a film? Does it have a strong emotional undercurrent which will hold the story together, beyond all the charisma of the lead actors? The ‘Why’ of Bahubali 2 was also its USP.
2. You Can’t Create Hype
No one knows what actually convinces someone to watch a film. Is it the trailer? Or an actor? Or a director? Since no actor or filmmaker wants to take a chance to reach out to the audience, through various mediums, sometimes the publicity blitzkrieg doesn’t quite get the desired results. You can’t create hype, just like you can’t make a video go ‘viral’. It just happens and with some momentum, it takes a life of its own. In the weeks leading up to the release, the makers of Bahubali 2 kept talking about how challenging the project was and how much effort each member of the team had put in. Since people were already aware of the film franchise, the extensive marketing campaign for the film across the country, along with news that it’s going to have the biggest ever release for any film, raised people’s curiosity. Considering that the team barely released any visuals from the film, except the trailer and a 30-second promo of the 'Sahore Baahubali' song, it was the fan-base of Bahubali franchise which made the film huge.
3. It’s All About Building Credibility
For any South Indian filmmaker, to test the waters in North Indian market has been risky business. Except for the likes of Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Shankar, Mani Ratnam and Priyadarshan — very few South Indian filmmakers and actors have made their mark in Hindi. SS Rajamouli was a recent entrant to the list when his 2012 film Makkhi (Eega in Telugu) caught a lot of attention, although it didn’t quite do well at the box-office. But Makkhi was Rajamouli’s passport to become a noted figure in Bollywood and soon, the success of Bahubali: The Beginning in 2015 changed everything. It’s all about building credibility, if you are venturing into a new market. It takes years of hard work and patience to make inroads in a different area and Bahubali 2 team has proved how to do that.
4. Spending The Right Way
It’s an open secret that when it comes to films featuring A list actors, remuneration forms a large chunk of the film’s budget. And more the budget, more is the price at which it is sold to distributors which also increases the risk factor. Although Bahubali 1 and 2 boasted of a budget of nearly Rs 450 crores, it worked a little differently for the whole team. Rajamouli and Prabhas are said to have settled for a monthly salary throughout the making of the film to ensure that most part was spent on production. “We knew that we can’t make the film if we stick to taking a huge sum as remuneration even before the film released. I prefer working with producers who are willing to spend more on production and ensure that there isn’t too much of a risk for distributors. And I’m quite comfortable working with Shobu Yarlagadda (one of the producers of the film) because we are on the same page,” Rajamouli said at a recent event. Despite its humongous budget, the makers ensured that they made a good profit even before the film released.
5. Universal Stories Are The Future
Bahubali is a rare film which broke all regional and cultural barriers to become a national film. This is a huge paradigm change from the notion that directors and actors, in most cases than not, make films which cater to the audiences in a certain region or language. Since Bahubali is a period film, given our obsession with Indian mythology and folklore, it had a certain universal appeal right from the word go. When it was dubbed in Hindi or Malayalam, the film worked like magic and how! Perhaps, there’ll be lot more period films and action dramas, which would try to emulate Bahubali’s success, in the near future. But will they have the same universal appeal? Only time will tell.