Why was Bahubali so successful?

Pravin Andhale

Posted on : 28 Oct 2020

No doubt, in the history books on Indian cinema, it will be divided into two eras, pre-Baahubali and post-Baahubali era. (and also, probably pre-corona and post corona era!!!)

This franchise had mobilised film goers at unprecedented scale. The crowds that had gathered across whole of India crossing the normal boundaries of different cinema industries was something unbelievable. (And maybe this will never happen again in the world changed by corona !) That is why I embarked upon this task to find out what were the reasons that made Bahubali so special! 

1. Cost of making the film :  Baahubali 1 cost Rs 180 crore, while Baahubali 2 was made at cost of Rs 250 crore. This was unusual when most Bollywood films were made at average cost of nearly 50-60 crores. About this insiders say different things.  At that time after release of 2nd Bahubali, Sound designer PM Satheesh was quoted by Indian Express as saying, “What we lack in Bollywood is discipline. Why is Baahubali happening in Telugu cinema, because the money for the film of this sort goes into the production. It’s not eaten up by a few big stars. If you have a 600 crore-film in Mumbai, at max Rs 100 crore will go into the production, if you are lucky. Otherwise, everything is siphoned out to a few stars and people. In Baahubali, every penny has gone into the production that’s why it shows.” Quite point on!


2. Commitment of lead actor: Prabhas did not sign another film in five years of Bahubali’s production, when Baahubali 1 and 2 were being made. This was not just to maintain the continuity of his looks, but even to ensure that he stayed in character, lived it, breathed it… So when the two films came out, the audience did not see Prabhas the actor, but Amarendra Baahubali and Mahendra Baahubali.

3. Strong female characters of story: Bahubali had very strong female characters in story. Played by equally talented actors. its three women – Devasena, Sivagami and Avanthika were actually the real heroes. They ruled the kingdom, selected the king, decided their partner, fought to save their kingdom and even punished the miscreants. This was unprecedented, because in movies with lead male characters female roles were not that strong. And often appeared for very less time on screen. 


4. A story teller from the story itself:  From the first Bahubali to second, one character from story was always constant somewhere. That was Kattappa. Kattappa was the sole character in Baahubali who was present from start to end, mainly in its conclusion. While the main fight might have been between Bhallaladeva and Baahubali, the entire second part revolved around “Why Kattappa killed Baahubali.” So much for a character who was just a ‘loyal servant’ to the dynasty. Rajmata Sivagami was the strongest character in the script, so to say.

5. Very effective marketing campaign: Even if it was backed by the biggest production houses, the way the makers of Baahubali marketed their film, especially the second part had set a benchmark for every producer. From its trailer to music launch, releasing of books to film related merchandise, every Baahubali event was an opulent affair. Only if its grand premiere wasn’t cancelled at the last minute, it would’ve kept the film in news for days. Its marketing strategy had definitely became a study point for various business colleges.


6. S.S. Rajamouli : Writer-director S.S. Rajamouli has established himself as one of India’s most reliable hitmakers, a rare talent who combines technical prowess with a unique storytelling flair, visual panache with real emotional depth. Both humble in personal demeanor and fiercely passionate in his artistic ambitions, Rajamouli is the kind of pure filmmaker that Hollywood used to embrace before the modern era of franchise films. Of Baahubali he has said, “This world of larger-than-life characters, larger-than-life emotions, larger-than-life environments, I have been living for as long as I can remember.”

7. The numbers became talking points:The no for Bahubali were so different that it literally outnumbered all exiting records of that time, for Indian films. For example: Here are a few facts and figures to describe the scale of the production:

  •     1 full year of preproduction
  •     25 artists who created 15,000 storyboard sketches
  •     380 shooting days over 3 years
  •     2,000 stuntmen
  •     Thousands of costumes, weapons and props

Baahubali: the Beginning concluded with a heart-pumping 45 minute battle sequence and a cliffhanger ending that was sure to bring audiences flooding back for more when Baahubali: the Conclusion rolled out in 2016.

8. A Visual Feast : Baahubali was filmed in such exotic and spectacular locations as the Rock Gardens in Kurnool and the Athirappilly Falls in Thrissur district of Kerala, and on massive sets constructed at Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad. Cinematographer K.K. Senthil Kumar and his crew took full advantage of these rich locations, with superb camera and lighting work.

9. Simple, Powerful Storytelling :Baahubali is steeped in Indian, and particularly Telugu, mythology, (maybe this is why it attracted people from all of India!) but its straight-ahead narrative and universal themes make it accessible for any moviegoer. In interviews Rajamouli had credited classic Indian epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as inspiration for Baahubali.

10. Same time release in different languages : The movie was made in the Telugu and Tamil languages, and dubbed into Hindi and Malayalam. It had performed extremely well in all four language territories, and its prospects in the international market were very bright considering previous records by Indian films. .

11.Content is the king : The movie had a tight and intriguing storyline. Though the ending is not a mystery, the interesting manner in which the story unfolds makes it worth a watch. The tight storyline compels one to admit that it's one of the greatest films ever made in India. Appreciating the content of the movie, trade analyst Taran Adarsh had said in a tweet: “Eyeing holidays/festivals to boost BO prospects has become a norm, but remember that Baahubali 2 was a non-holiday, non-festival release.”

12.Mystery quotient : "Why Katappa killed Baahubali ?" was the suspense which audience were waiting to unfold for almost two years. The audience also took to theatres expecting that the sequel to Baahubali: The Beginning would be far more entertaining than the original and Rajamouli did not disappoint them.

Last comments: 

The Era ushered in by Bahubali is somewhat stopped by Corona pandemic! One can only expect that this time will pass and movies will be released in cinema houses with level of enthusiasm and crowds! And hopefully new such great movies will be made and presented for our delight. (Don’t forget RRR by S.S.Rajamouli is in the making!!!! )


#MagnumOpus #indianCinema #Cinema #CinemaBusiness #Bahubali #SSRajamouli #RRR #highestgrossingindianmovie #mostearningmovie #bestindianmovie #katappa #Shivgami #whykatappakilledbahubali  


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Posted on : 28 Oct 2020