SS Rajamouli – is the name of probably every cinema junkie in the country can resonate with nowadays. The man behind movies like ‘Eega’, ‘Magadheera’ and ‘Yamadonga’ among others has created a legacy of sorts with 9 blockbusters since his directorial debut with ‘Student No. 1’ back in 2001.
Come 10 July, Rajamouli is all set to unleash arguably the biggest motion picture to come out of the country with ‘Baahubali – The Beginning’, with an estimated budget of over Rs 250 crore. The film has been his dream, his vision and his life. The idea of Baahubali was born when his father, noted story and script writer Vijayendra Prasad, sketched two characters, Sivagami and Bhallala Deva. Rajamouli, who was an ardent reader of Amar Chitra Katha comics thought… why not weave a story around these two characters?
He approached Prabhas, to play the title role, a few years ago and got him on board, though Rana, who plays the antagonist Bhallala Deva, was initially reluctant as he was unsure if he could firstly devote three years to a single project and secondly, do justice to it. But finally he agreed, and so did Anushka Shetty and Tamanna Bhatia.
The film has been talked about for its massive sets and the magnificent production design. Set in an imaginary realm, it promises to blur the lines between the real and the imaginary with some amazing photorealistic shots. The visual effects for the movie are being supervised by national award winner V Srinivas Mohan and art direction is by national-award wizard Sabu Cyril. The cinematography is by renowned cameraman Senthil and international fight choreographer Peter Hein is taking care of the hand to hand combat sequences.
The visual effects for the movie have been worked upon by nearly 26 VFX studios, each specializing in various aspects of the effects for the movie. The project has been worked upon by over 600 artists from across the globe, which also includes a few artists from the studio behind the bone chilling special effects of the recently released ‘Jurassic World’, Industrial Light & Magic. The total number of VFX shots for the feature is well over 4,500 and accounts for over 95 per cent of the run-time for ‘Baahubali’.
The visual effects department did concept drawing for each scene over six to seven months and then prepared a storyboard to see which scene required visual effects. Rajamouli, with a track record of making special effects-rich blockbusters wanted three things for his magnum opus: a visual extravaganza, showcase Indian heritage and culture and create magnificent forts and spell-binding fights.
With the iota of an idea to create something comparable to a Hollywood spectacle at a quarter of its cost, only Rajamouli could have managed to pull off such a project. For art director Sabu Cyril, it was a daunting task to create a period without any reference point as the story is set some 2,000 years ago. The magnificent palaces, indestructible forts, breath-taking water falls were all created for the movie.
On the question of why split the movie in two parts, Rajamouli has said time and again: “The story, about two warring brothers for a kingdom is so big that one film is not enough. We tried but we were losing some of the emotional quotient hence the second release after a gap of 10 months.”
The film is presented by K. Raghavendra Rao, while K.E. Gnanavel Raja and UV Creations presenting the Tamil theatrical version, Karan Johar is presenting the Hindi theatrical version, and Global United Media is presenting the Malayalam theatrical version. The soundtrack and background score for the film is composed by National Award winner M. M. Keeravani.
Baahubali is also one of the few films featured in BBC’s documentary on 100 Years of Indian cinema directed by Sanjeev Bhaskar. The film was shot using Arri Alexa XT camera marking Rajamouli’s first film using digital camera and the principal photography began at Rock Gardens in Kurnool on 6 July 2013. Before the film proceed to its audio release, a small 20 second teaser of the movie has been released on 30 May 2015. The world’s largest film poster ever made was unveiled in Kochi for the film Baahubali which broke the Guinness world record. The film has been described as India’s version of Troy, 300 or Hercules.
Prabhas, Rana and Anushka did a lot of home work and hard work for the film. All of them practiced sword fighting, while Prabhas and Rana learned horse riding. It was later decided to make it a two part film which would release by 2015, due to its excessive length. Tamil lyricist Madhan Karky was selected to write the dialogues for the Tamil version. The film’s action sequences were choreographed by Peter Hein who revealed that each and every shot was dealt carefully and there are huge requirements which are not seen in regular movies as it is a complete period film. For a particular action sequence, Peter Hein had to handle around 2,000 stuntmen & elephants. K. K. Senthil Kumar was selected to handle the film’s cinematography.
M. Satheesh the sound designer of the film has stated that Baahubali is one of the very few films in South where a lot of importance has been given to sound recording. The idea of shooting with sync sound was scrapped, since the dialogue delivery had to be modified accordingly. The sound design team embedded various types of micro-phones throughout the set to record the ambient sound, which lend a natural feel to the film.
Sabu Cyril mentioned that every hour was a challenge on the sets of a period film like this and it was a huge responsibility on his shoulders with no room for errors. Everything in the movie was created from scratch: chairs, thrones, palaces, swords, armor and costumes.
The entire world is waiting eagerly to catch it on big screens, as Baahubali opens in 4000+ theatres globally. Baahubali’s satellite rights were acquired by MAA TV for a staggering Rs 25 crore for both parts, which is also a record for Telugu movie satellite rights.
Finally, the first part of Baahubali is set to hit theatres on 10 July worldwide after having worked on the project for over 3 years in all. Made in Telugu, Tamil and dubbed in Hindi, Malayalam, English, French, Japanese, the film features top South -Indian artistes such as Prabhas, Rana, Anushka, Tamanna, Sathyaraj, Sudeep, Nassar and Ramya Krishnan in key roles. The second part will release in 2016.