‘Baahubali: The Lost Legends’
The announcement of animated videos on the backstories of the fictional universe created in Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017) signalled the arrival of a form of entertainment we didn’t have much of a precedent for—world-building. For here was an Indian epic fantasy that was able to transport the viewer to a dream space and generate enough demand for more. While there was no more urgent question than “Katappa ne Baahubali ko kyun maara (Why did Katappa kill Baahubali)?”, the cliffhanger that ended part 1, fans may have been curious about the finer details of the Mahishmati kingdom. For instance, the lion-shaped chariot with a chakra fitted in front, which chops and shreds whatever comes in its way. Or the huge wild buffaloes which look like they could defeat mammoths in a contest.
In its first three episodes, each about 20 minutes long, Baahubali: The Lost Legends, available on Amazon Prime Video, concentrates on the characters. We see that the seeds of Baahubali’s epic rivalry with his cousin Bhallaldeva are sown in the games they played as children; there’s the little story of Baahubali saving Sivagami, his stepmother, from a crocodile; we see a gathbandhan (alliance) falling apart—events whose echoes we have seen in the movies. Each incident points towards the conflict that is central to the movies—the clash between duty to the throne and doing what is right.
But The Lost Legends, created by S.S. Rajamouli, Graphic India and Arka Mediaworks, isn’t able to create the magic of the Baahubali movies—the animation isn’t as exciting as Rajamouli’s movies. It lacks the visual flair and detailing of the Amar Chitra Katha comics—an inspiration for the movies which are, ironically, closer to its aesthetics.
It lacks even the visual flair and detailing of the Amar Chitra Katha comics, which were ostensibly the inspiration for the movies. It is suitably dreamy in the outdoor settings but too cartoony in scenes inside the palace. For a movie that has redefined the standards of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in India, its animated series could have taken a bigger leap.