Creator And Executive Producer: S.S. Rajamouli
Language: Hindi and English
First things first – I haven't seen Baahubali 1 or 2 and I'm not really a fan of action movies. That said, I must confess that the animated series, Baahubali: The Lost Legends drew me in. It was probably the shot of Queen Sivagami diving into a pool with a predatory crocodile, flowing saree and all, and rescuing the boy Baahubali who had dived in to save her from that very crocodile. It is not often that we find such representations of Indian queens – skilled in physical action, not simpering, and displaying both political acumen and emotions, though the latter is predictably less present than the emphasis on duty and responsibility. And she's not the only woman depicted like this in the series – that definitely deserves a big thumbs-up.
Launched digitally on Amazon Prime Video and soon to be released on television through COLORS, the series is a well-scripted drama about war and adventure, political intrigue and ethics. Set before the Kalakeya invasion depicted in the film, the animated series shows Baahubali and Bhallaladeva as young princes, competing to rule the kingdom of Mahishmati. It sets up the tension between the idea of a King of the People and a King of the Throne, with Baahubali winning the hearts of the people through his exploits.
For fans of the Baahubali films, the series divulges hidden secrets and events that shaped Baahubali from a young prince into a legendary hero. So, the producers' claim that the target audience for the series is from 8 to 80 years is probably not wrong. It works as bonus viewing for die-hard fans but it can also draw in new audiences who may not know anything of the later context.
Comprising 13 episodes in Season 1, the series combines Amar Chitra Katha aesthetics with anime style action. The fight sequences have detailed flowing movement with art that enhances the kind of stunts that action heroes dream of doing – leaping across terraces, jumping through fire, throwing daggers with accuracy while doing a somersault. But the animation is not simply focused on stylish fight sequences. The art also evokes the emotional content through the framing, camera angles, perspective and a good use of light and shadow.
The series is available in both Hindi and English, but I would strongly recommend watching the Hindi version. The dialogue in the English version is stilted, both in the way it's written and how it's spoken. The Hindi version works well and presents the Indian context in a natural, unselfconscious manner. With kids watching a glut of animation from Disney and Japan, Baahubali: The Lost Legends is a welcome addition to the diversity of viewing possibilities. Watch it to remember that mythologies may draw upon historical fact or they may create other narratives, but they certainly contain the ingredients of entertaining fiction.
Watch the whole series on Amazon Prime Video here