A while back I had some computer problems. As in Black Screen of Death computer problems. As in Called-MicroSoft and the Level-One-tech-couldn’t-help-me problems. So that is how I wound up on the phone with a Level Two tech, a nice young man who lives in Mumbai. The process took quite a while, what with downloading and installing stuff. And during all this we talked on the phone.
The conversations went hither and yon, with us showing each other pictures of our home towns (he’s from up north, in the mountains where there’s snow, but there are no jobs up there, which is why he’s in the city). And we talked about films. His first James Bond film was with Pierce Brosnan in the role, but we agreed that Sean Connery is the iconic Bond. And … he mentioned his favorite movie. Since I love movies, I had to go find it, and that is how I came to see Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.
I hunted down a copy, which wasn’t particularly hard because it’s available on all the usual streaming services. I saw it as a Hindi dub with English subs (which also taught me that “jungle” is a Hindi loan-word in English). This was a less than ideal way to see the picture, though, because Baahubali in whole is a complicated set of interlocking flashbacks. You can think of Baahubali 2 as having a five-act structure, of which Baahubai 1: The Beginning is the fourth act. Which means that, if you haven’t already seen Part 1, when the last act arrives you’ll be wondering who these people are, what they’re doing, and what’s up.
I make a habit of refraining from reading any reviews of movies I plan to see until after I’ve seen ’em, so I arrive fresh and unspoiled. After seeing the films I read reviews to compare my reaction to other folks’. In this case, I read things where reviewers compared Baahubali to a cross between The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, and calling it India’s Lord of the Rings. To which I say, yeah, it’s like that. Another reviewer said that Part 1 is lyrical, while Part 2 is operatic. Which again, I say, is right on.
The whole show (the length of two double-features back-to-back) has everything: a vile usurper, a lost heir, true love, loyalty, treason, vast battles between good guys who are really good and bad guys who are really bad, prophecies, faith, a young lady made entirely out of butterflies, a bobsled, a spider god what is a spider god and a swan boat what is a swan boat. Speaking of which, did I mention that it’s all-singing, all-dancing? Everyone is also super-good-looking.
I don’t have the cultural background to even begin to understand or even notice all the references and levels of Stuff that’re going on in this picture. But I know that there are depths here.
Our hero, Baahubali, is the kind of guy who travels with his own personal weather system. The wind blows his hair back from his face even indoors, when no one else is being affected, nor are silken hangings moved, nor candle flames disturbed. He also really rocks a turban. Mere physics doesn’t bother him. Momentum is not conserved. The geography makes no sense. Time and distance are flexible things. Historicity is on the level of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. No matter. Just go with it.
Baahubali (a guy who knows how to make an entrance) is one of those force-of-nature characters. Such that I think about what would happen if he wandered into other movies.
Baahubali vs. Captain America: It’s a tie, unless it ends with a dance-off, in which case Baahubali wins.
Baahubali vs. The Seven Samurai: The seven samurai notice that, while Baahubali isn’t Japanese, he nevertheless has the samurai spirit. They nod to him. Baahubali notices that the seven samurai are all following their dharma. He nods back to them. The bandits, however, are bang in trouble.
Baahubali in Ghostbusters:
Gozer the Gozarian: Are you a god?
Baahubali (actual line from movie): I already told you. I’m Shiva.
What can I say? Good movie. Check it out.