Baahubali 2: The Conclusion - All you need to know about its story, box office, pre-release business
To be or not to be is not the question anymore. Bahubali 2: The Conclusion (also spelt as Baahubali) is sure to be a blockbuster, probably the biggest of India yet, in the coming weeks. As the fans gear up for the release of SS Rajamouli's epic saga, they cannot wait to join the dots and tie up all the loose ends that were left in the original, Bahubali: The Beginning.
On the eve of the release, here's what you need to know to get up to speed with Baahubali 2.
The story so far
The story is set in the fictitious kingdom of Mahishmati. The queen Sivagami, played by Ramya Krishnan, is on the verge of death as she limps her way out of the kingdom probably after an attack to seize the throne. She manages to escape the kingdom with her grandnephew, toddler Mahendra Baahubali, in her arms. She hands over the baby to a local tribe before submitting herself to the force of the river that she navigated in order to keep the baby unscathed.
Mahendra Baahubali, unaware of his origins, is raised by the tribe as Shiva, played by Prabhas. However, his destiny lands him back in the kingdom of Mahishmati. Decades have passed and the kingdom is still ruled by Bhallaladeva. played by Rana Daggubati. He and his father, Sivagami's husband Bijjaldeva (played by Nassar) indulge in mocking Mahendra Baahubali's mother Devasena, played by Anushka Shetty, time again. Battered and chained, Devasena firmly believes that her son will rescue her eventually. She even turns a deaf ear to the slave of the throne Katappa, played by Sathyaraj, who proposes to help her escape.
In the meantime, Shiva meets and falls in love with Avanthika, played by Tamannaah Bhatia, a warrior tribe determined to rescue Devasena. He takes upon himself to accomplish their mission. He goes on to rescue Devasena without the knowledge that she is his mother. Bhallaladeva sends his son Bhadra to get Devasena back but Mahendra Baahubali aka Shiva ends up beheading him. Katappa, while fighting against Mahendra, realises that he is Amarendra Baahubali's son.
He narrates Mahendra's back story explaining how there was no heir to the throne while Amarendra and his cousin Bhallaladeva were growing up. Sivagami declares that the one who kills an approaching enemy will be made the king of Mahishmati. While Bhallaladeva ends up killing him, Sivagami declares Amarendra as the king owing to his concern towards the subjects during the war.
In probably one of the most jaw-dropping cliffhangers in recent memory, Katappa reveals that Amarendra was unstoppable until Katappa killed him in an act of treachery.
What to expect in Baahubali 2
The entire star cast has reiterated that while the first part was high on visuals and special effects in order to lure the audience into the world of Baahubali, the sequel emphasises more on drama, emotion and story. It is not short on the action front as there are two wars in the film. While the first one is likely to be fought between Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallaladeva, the second one is sure to be fought between Bhallaladeva and Mahendra Baahubali, who will strive to regain his father's kingdom.
The most burning question waiting to be answered is undoubtedly why Katappa killed Amarendra Baahubali, one is also not aware whose side Katappa will fight in the second war. Since he is a slave to the throne, he is expected to fight on Bhallaladeva's side. However, he may end up fighting on Baahubali's side to atone his sins as his guilt was quite evident in the first part.
The audience will also explore why the first war took place and what role did Sivagami, Bhallaladeva and the calculating Nassar played in instigating it. Also, the love story of Amarendra Baahubali and Devasena will be traced. All we know about Devasena so far is that she is the wife of Amarendra and the mother of Mahendra Baahubali.
For more details about the key characters, check out our sketches of the five most important characters of the Baahubali franchise.
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is produced by Shobu Yarlaggada and Prasad Devineni's Arka Media Works. It is being simultaneously released in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. Its Hindi version has been taken over by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions who are also marketing and distributing it like they did for the first part.
The film has already done a tremendous pre-release business as documented by Firstpost columnists Sreedhar Pillai and Latha Srinivasan. Pillai reports that Baahubali 2 will be releasing in nearly 9000 screens, the highest ever screen count for a Indian film.
Srinivisan breaks down the theatrical rights: the Tamil Nadu theatrical rights have been reportedly sold for Rs 40 crore while Andhra Pradesh and Telangana rights have gone for a whopping Rs 130 crore. Karnataka will see the film release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and the business in the state was estimated at Rs 45 crore. The producers are now releasing the film there themselves post the protest by pro-Kannada groups. Meanwhile, Kerala has also been a good market for the film with the rights going for Rs 10 crore.
As far as the Hindi version is concerned, Johar will get a certain percentage of the revenue. It was reported that Dharma shared 10% of the revenues for the first part of the film. This time round, the percentage could be more.
The film has done considerably well overseas well. North America (USA and Canada) has been sold for Rs 45 crore for the Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam versions. The USA has a huge Telugu-speaking population and the first part of the film grossed over US $ 8 million. There’s a buzz that this number could double this time round as Baahubali – The Conclusion is releasing in over 900 screens in the US.
As far as the satellite rights are concerned, Baahubali 2 is a record Rs 78 Crores with Hindi going to Sony (Rs 50 Cr) and Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam with Star Network (Rs 28 Cr). The digital rights are with the producers who are negotiating with Amazon and Netflix.
Yarlaggada says the total budget for both the parts Baahubali 1 and 2 is Rs 450 Crores. The trade buzz is that Baahubali 2 will get a share between Rs 400 to Rs 500 Crore for the producers from theatricals, endorsements, merchandise, games, satellite and other rights.
Box office expectation
Baahubali 2 has got this summer's best release date – 28 April. It is a four day weekend with Monday, 1 May being a national holiday. The film has received a massive response in advance booking, particularly in the southern states of Hyderabad, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
Pillai reports the humongous buzz around the release of the film, with special focus on the expectation at the box office as estimated with the aid of advance booking. A spokesperson of a leading multiplex in Tamil Nadu said: “The advance booking has been extraordinary for Baahubali 2, we are already sold out till 2 May, now we are trying to squeeze out more special shows to accommodate the craze for the film.
As of now theatres in Tamil Nadu will have five shows daily, though some are trying to squeeze in an additional early morning show. But the running time of the film (2 hours and 48 minutes) makes it difficult to hold a sixth show. The film will have huge bulk bookings as corporate and IT companies in and around Chennai are trying to grab tickets for their employees and guests. The multiplexes are going to make a killing as each corporate ticket is a combo deal (Popcorn+Cola), plus additional Rs 30 booking charges.
Dubai-based distributor Gulshan has said that he has sold more than one lakh tickets before release, highest ever for a Indian film, which has even surpassed Fast and Furious opening. Hindustan Times reports, "$3 million (Rs 19 crore approx) club has already been breached and tickets are being sold at $100,000 (Rs 64 lakhs) every hour. Baahubali 2 is the third Indian film to release in IMAX format and as well in other large screen format. In USA, it is releasing in around 40 IMAX screens and the number is expected to go up as we inch closer to the release date."
Business Today reports, "Bookmyshow is offering a discount of up to Rs 125 upon using the promo code BMS125 on the purchase of two tickets, while Paytm users can avail flat Rs 100 cashback on a minimum booking of two tickets on using the promo code BAAHUBALI."
Finally, trade pundits are betting big on Baahubali 2, as day one domestic box-office gross collections may cross Rs 100 Crore and worldwide may even do Rs 130 to 140 Cr gross. It is expected to earn over Rs 1,000 crore in its lifetime at the box office and thus enjoy unprecedented success of an Indian film on a global level.