New Delhi: Director S.S. Rajamouli’s frantically awaited war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion saw the biggest opening day collections for an Indian film, on Friday. Besides making box office collections of Rs121 crore across four languages, the Prabhas and Rana Daggubati-starrer finally let the movie goer clear the suspense created at the end of the previous part.
In 2015, the 2 hour 38 minute long Baahubali: The Beginning had ended with its titular lead getting killed by close aide Katappa as part of a conspiracy Rajamouli promised to reveal two years later. The layered plot, partly inspired by mythological epics, essentially deals with two warring cousins—the golden-hearted Baahubali and his evil brother Bhallala Deva—both brought up by the latter’s mother Sivagami in a fictional kingdom called Mahishmati. After Baahubali is elected king, Deva plots to turn his otherwise unbiased mother against the cousin; so she finally asks their loyal slave to kill him.
The two films were made at a total budget of Rs400-450 crore. Released in about 6,000 screens nationwide, Baahubali 2 had tickets being sold at exorbitantly high rates across the country besides theatres being booked for most of next week. The film surpassed the screen count for a big-ticket Bollywood film, which stands at 4,500 currently.
In the two years that Rajamouli took to come up with the second instalment, the question ‘Why Katappa Killed Baahubali’ emerged not just as a source of pan-Indian curiosity—feeding countless memes and jokes—but also spearheaded the film’s promotional campaign with the WKKB hashtag trending on social media. Meanwhile, as India watched the drama unfold on Friday, reactions ranged from ecstatic relief to bitter disappointment.
“I admire S.S. Rajamouli for staying true to his characters and mythology and not giving in to some cliffhanger gimmick,” said film critic and Mint columnist Raja Sen. “He has made an impressive film that is better than the first because of which the sequel has a wider narrative importance than just the answer to the WKKB question.”
Other industry experts agree the filmmaker has stayed true to the character, though this wasn’t a particularly great plot twist. And while trade analysts like Sreedhar Pillai and Taran Adarsh report everything from women weeping in theatres to multiplex audiences whistling and clapping at the final revelation, there is more to the new film for sure. “That question had definitely become a slogan in the mind of every movie goer and was one of the major reasons for the earth-shattering opening the film got,” Adarsh said. “But the inherent brand of the film speaks too; it has a lot to offer and people had loved the first part. But yes, the entire betrayal episode is extremely solid.”
To be sure, there are differing opinions on the same. Rakesh Gowthaman, managing director of Vettri Theatres in Chennai, for instance, reports that people had made far too many assumptions in these two years to rest on just that one question and had other things to look forward to, like Anushka Shetty who had a relatively smaller part to play in the first instalment.
Whatever may be the case, the appeal of Rajamouli’s war epic is undeniable. The Hindi version of the film has already broken opening day records of Salman Khan and Aamir Khan-starrers Sultan and Dangal.
“I think the film’s collections are so strong that there would be marginal impact, if any, due to audiences not finding the reason for Baahubali’s killing good enough,” said Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures.