Baahubali 2 trailer: Rajamouli has showcased to the world what Indian filmmakers can achieve
28 April seems so far away.
Now that the official trailer of Baahubali 2 is out, how the heart yearns for a time machine, something that could have compressed time and transported us bang in the middle of the film.
There are movies and there are blockbusters. And then there are once-in-a-lifetime events, like the release of SS Rajamouli's sequel Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.
On sheer magnitude, scale and expectations, the film ranks right up there with the football or cricket World Cup. Like these events, it is something worth waiting and yet impossible not to yearn for.
The film's trailer, released on Thursday, shows why Baahubali inspires both love and longing. It resembles an epic that, like Mughal-e-Azam, would be difficult to replicate for decades, a story whose every character, like in Sholay, appears not just endearing but also familiar. It's a drama that is so grand, thrilling and unpredictable that it defies every established boundary of imagination and creativity.
And then there is the mother of all riddles in the father of all enigmas: the Katappa question even Prime Minister Narendra Modi could not avoid during the UP campaign, even though he mixed up the good and evil narrative a bit.
Commercial success of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is guaranteed. In fact, the Rs 200-crore revenge drama set in an imaginary kingdom has reportedly earned Rs 500-crore before its release through satellite and digital rights. The only question that would be answered after its theatrical release — apart from why Katappa killed Mahendra Baahubali — is whether it lives up to expectations, compares with the first part and leads to similar hysteria at the box-office. And if it was worth the wait.
If the film's concluding part goes on to do well, it could revolutionise filmmaking in India, leading to a trend that is a norm in Hollywood — of a film being told in parts and the audience returning to theatres after a huge gap to see a story conclude.
Hollywood has always experimented with stories that have been revealed in stages, sometimes over a period spanning several years. In 1995, when Richard Linklater directed the poignant romantic drama Before Sunrise, he left the narrative hanging at the end. He picked up the story a good nine years later again to leave it unfinished. He returned to conclude it in 2014, a good 18 years after the story of Jesse and Celine began on a train to Vienna.
Then there have been the films with a shorter wait to time, so to speak. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Matrix series carried on with a tradition that first became a rage with the Star Wars phenomenon.
In India, producers have made films that took years to conclude. Mughal e Azam, for instance, was shot over a period of several years. Its director K Asif, actually had a penchant for taking decades to complete a film because of his obsession with detail. His other magnum opus Love and God starring Sanjeev Kumar and Nimmi was released 23 years after it went to the floor in 1963. By the time it was released, both Asif and Sanjeev Kumar were dead.
However, a staggered story has been tried with some amount of success just once in mainstream Bollywood. In 2012, when Anurag Kashyap released Gangs of Wasseypur, he broke from the Bollywood-ian norm of concluding a story in just about three hours. If Baahubali 2: The Conclusion turns out to be a blockbuster everyone expects it to be, it could inspire other director's to tell stories that evolve over the years, keep the audience waiting, wanting for more.
Whatever be the legacy of the film's sequel, Rajamouli has showcased to the world what Indian film-makers could achieve. When it was released, the Guardian put even American studios under the scanner for profligacy. The newspaper asked: "The impressive results only set one to wondering why the American studios don’t insist on getting more for their money".
Rajamouli has taught a lesson in filmmaking to the over-hyped studios in Mumbai whose record with mythology and fantasy has been pathetic. His contribution was succinctly hailed by Ram Gopal Verma, who tweeted after the success of the first part that if Rajamouli were to decide not to make a movie for the next few years, there would be no industry left.
Thankfully, he has. The life of an Indian movie fan has not been the same since 2015, when the story of Baahubali began.
It may not be the same either after April when it ends.
Perhaps we don't need a time machine after all. Let the wait for Baahubali 2 last as long as possible.