Today marks five years since the release of SS Rajamouli's Baahubali: The Beginning. Everyone talks about its grandeur, magnitude, scale, performances, visual effects and, of course, the cliffhanger. After these many years, there are still some iconic scenes that come to mind the minute you hear or think of the film.
A queen holding an infant is being chased by the guards. She kills the guards and decides to cross the river to get the baby to safety. It is then that Rajamouli's magic starts. We only get hints – we understand that the little boy is the heir of a kingdom called Mahishmati. "Mahendra Bahubali brathakali" in the voice of Ramya Krishnan will give you gooseflesh… and then starts the riveting score by MM Keeravani. The intensity in her eyes, the score, the cold and swollen river and the beautiful frame of the baby held above the water. This scene is a welcome gift from Rajamouli to the audience.
After the first 35 minutes of the film, we are introduced to the Mahishmati kingdom. The lyrics of the song speak of the grandeur of the kingdom but the visuals show people being mistreated. Then enters the king who presides over this cruelty. Rana Daggubati's presence, his posture and the look in his eyes make Bhallaladeva look formidable. This scene establishes Bhallaladeva as an extremely strong man who knows his strengths. We understand he is not someone who can be defeated easily.
This image is from the scene where the entire city chants 'Baahubali' and Bhallaladeva and his coterie are thrown off guard by the series of events. Bhallaladeva feels belittled by the people and Baahubali himself. This is a very literal visual articulation of his feelings. You feel his hatred for Baahubali. He cannot tolerate the fact that even after all these years, people in his kingdom not only remember, but also admire Baahubali more than he ever will be.
The Queen-mother's characterisation as a ferocious ruler of a kingdom and a loving mother is extraordinarily portrayed in this scene. She tackles the traitors of the kingdom with a dagger in one hand and her child in another. This particular image from that scene sticks out because it shows that she loves both princes just the same. The lyrics that follow calling her 'Mamathala thalli' do justice to her character.
This is the most shocking scene and among the most talked-about cliffhangers in Indian cinema. The character of Kattappa is developed as the 'loyal to a fault' royal slave. He narrates the story of Amarendra Baahubali with nothing but love, praise and admiration towards the man and then reveals that he is the killer. This again is a literal visual portrayal of backstabbing.
The visual and the audio are stunning. Who knew that this revelation stirred the sensational nation-wide question 'Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?'