HP2 movie review: Baahubali: The Beginning

Released in 2015, Baahubali was the most expensive film ever made here (US$28 million) and was the highest-grossing film ever in India.

It’s a fantastic icon. Here’s the iTunes listing

92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

A cast of thousands. The hero Shivudu (later Mahendra Baahubali). He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer I suppose, but stupendously, unrelentingly, heroic starting just a few minutes in. Simple spoken lines

The love interest, Avanthika, a warrior on a mission. Wow, what a bombshell. Complicated, smart, a leader of men like the fellow above she falls in love with, because he climbs a cliff, which is a bit of a curveball. IMO.

There are maybe a half dozen major supporting actors. I’ll pick Sivigami, below, as my favourite. She’s matriarchal and wise. She has screen presence, charismatically dominating every scene she appears in

For a while now iTunes has some kind of code preventing screen grabs from protected content, like movies, which is a real shame because I’d love to talk about a few scenes.

For instance, there were some large-scale traditional female dance scenes that were trimmed to just seconds each. Very frustrating.

The official HP2 movie review: A hugely ambitious movie, heroic, sometimes complex, always compelling. I loved it. I’d give it a 10/10 but, despite the massive budget, on Indian terms, some of the wilder scenes needing expensive visual polishing. So 9/10. As for content, well it’s an enormous, excellent, mess I couldn’t even get started on, being a rookie here.

A professional review:

Critical reception penned by Shubha Shetty Saha for Mid Day rates the film with four stars out of film, exclaiming, “While watching Baahubali, you might have to periodically pick up your jaw off the floor. Because this is not merely a movie, it is an unbelievably thrilling fantasy ride.” The review extends praising the aspects, “It is to the director’s credit that every aspect of the film – action, mind-boggling set design and choreography – lives up to this epic film of gigantic scale. The choreography in the song that has Shiva disrobing Avantika to get her in touch with her feminine side, is an absolute gem”.

You have to see it.

The trailer

A whole industry spun off it. Check out this brilliant Indian ‘America’s Got Talent’ style show with a Baalubali derivative act. The slow motion simulation here is wow

Culturally, there’s one thing I know bit about that’s important to the movie plot. It’s the thing he’s carrying here in the movie poster. It may be the most important inanimate object in the Hindu faith

My first encounter with a representation of this object was back here, In December 2015, at Wat Pho, a Hindu Khmer temple near Champasak, Laos

Up on top of the hill there was a cave

In that square plinth-like object, water is being channeled over a phallic shaped object called a lingam.

Here is the entire Wiki definition:

The lingam is a column-like or oval (egg-shaped) symbol of Shiva, the Formless All-pervasive Reality, made of stone, metal, or clay. The Shiva Linga is a symbol of Lord Shiva – a mark that reminds of the Omnipotent Lord, which is formless. In Shaivite Hindu temples, the linga is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva. It is found at the centre of the temple, often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped structure, a representation of Shakti.There is an inclination to reduce the Shiva linga and Shakti yoni, the two main Tantric symbols of ascending and descending forces – which are often represented by upright conical stones for the Shiva linga and ring stones or basis for the Shakti yoni – to merely the male and female sex organs, which is but one of their many reflections, and their erotic glorification. There is a tradition of Tantric sexuality of mithuna which uses sacred sex as part of Yoga practice. But it is not the only practice of Tantric Yoga, much less the highest, and when done is integrated into a much larger array of practices.

Interesting, no?

At the Hindu temple in Darjeeling I saw a ceramic tile of a lingam remarkable for being graphically pristine

Then in Kalighat, Calcutta, I saw 9 identical ones, the same size and shape as in the movie poster, in identical small temples to Shiva (no photography allowed).

Plus others off and on.

So, in the movie, now you know the significance of the object that dominates the first maybe 30 minutes of the movie.

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