SS Rajamouli's Baahubali: The Beginning released five years ago on this day and changed Indian cinema a little. For one thing, audiences used to a staple diet of Hindi cinema went to the theatres to watch a dubbed Telugu film with no recognisable face, not once, but twice, and made the Baahubali films the highest grossing Indian films till date.
It has also had its downside. As expected, Bollywood has tried to recreate its success, with not much luck. They may not be exact replicas of Baahubali, but watching these films–action films set in ancient India and historical dramas–one couldn't shake off the feeling that they have been made, not because a writer or a director dreamt up a vision, but because a studio executive said: Let's make something like X.
We stumbled upon frames that make this inspiration all too apparent, giveaways that highlight Bollywood's inability to come up with not only an original film along the lines of Baahubali, but even individual visual ideas.
Kalank is hardly an action film. It's a social drama set a couple of years before India's independence. Still, it found enough reasons to feature a scene where Varun Dhawan, who plays a blacksmith, has to fight a bull-gone-crazy. Far from being embarrassed about the obvious similarities with Bhallaldev's bull fighting scene in Baahubali: The Beginning, the makers of Kalank flaunted it in the film's trailers and posters.
Making a historical action film? Maybe it's a great idea to make your protagonist jump acrobatically and land on an elephant's back, as in the beginning of Baahubali: The Conclusion. Even better if the colours – the protagonist in whites, the reds on the elephant – are similar. A temple in the backdrop is a bonus. Doesn't matter if it lacks the grace of the original, which felt like a dance.
If the protagonist can do a Prabhas inspite of her being a woman, surely she can take a swaggering walk down the corridors of the palace like Rajmata Sivagami, baby in her arms, moments before she is about to take charge. That Manikarnika appears twice in this list shouldn't come as a surprise considering it's also written by Baahubali story writer KV Vijayendra Prasad (Rajamouli's father).
2018's biggest dud Thugs of Hindostan found a way to feature a statue scene -as in part 1, where a giant statue of Bhallaldev is being raised in Mahishmati. It couldn't match up to its gargantuan scale, so it made it look bigger by putting a cluster of people in it, with Khudabaksh on the top. The low angle camera is just correct.