In second part of this 2-part article, Sridhar discusses how Bahubali team made the project viable by splitting the movie into two parts.
The spectacular success of “Bahubali” needs to be celebrated for many reasons.
One, it proves that with the right mix of content, high-caliber technicians and marketing Tollywood can grab the world eyeballs. The stars in “Bahubali” were not the monarchs of Bollywood – there was no Khan or Kapoor in it and no glamour diva like Deepika or Priyanka to pull the punches, no Rajinikanth or Kamal Hassan to rock the net with tens of thousands of fan clubs all over the world. [pullquote position=”left”] Bahubali proves that right mix of content and technicians can make a world class film without Khan’s or Kapoors. [/pullquote]There was just a starcast of Prabhas-Rana-Tamannaah-Anushka who blocked their dates for the duration of the making of the film- none of them and a technical team that was ready to collapse their trade-skills into a watchable biopic – Sabo Cyril designed the sets with impeccable detailing and diligence, Senthil Kumar drove the cinematography with a director’s eye for grand visuals and mesmerizing landscapes, Peter Hein created the most stylish and incredulous stunts in a period setting with resounding wolf-whistles, MM Keeravani re-imagined a music score that conveyed a panorama of emotions that struck a chord. So, it didn’t matter that the starpower was not well-known outside Tollywood – nobody knew the hero Prabhas and those who recognized Rana and Tamannah didn’t give them a half-chance. (But they turned out to be the proverbial dark horse in winning accolades for their performances).
Two, the budget of the film put a question mark on the prospects of the film. At Rs.250 crores for both the parts, it raised outcry from critics and film pundits whether it made any business sense for a market that still struggles to make Rs.100 crores in a film. Just to give a comparison, the Tamil film industry market is bigger than Tollywood by at least Rs.400 crores year, its Satellite TV market is also higher at over Rs.1200-1300 crores (versus just Rs.900 crores for Telugu channels). It took a calculated bet by roping in the biggies in Bollywood to bat for its Hindi version and picked up the Tamil and Malayalam markets to spread the bets since both the markets love new and audacious subjects. Kannada version, we guess never figured in the makers’ minds because the Kannada film-goer usually loves the larger-than-life Telugu Cinema better. That spread the bets evenly more or less, except Malayalam which is a small market.
Three, by betting on themselves and the novel content attempted on a scale of visual grandeur seldom seen on Indian celluloid, the producers led by Shobhu Yarlagadda and director Rajamouli have attempted a strategy that bears similarity to the “Blue Ocean Strategy” – grabbing the uncontested market share for Tollywood movies, getting the attention of the world cinema viewer (the “non-customer” for Tollywod). It is this Blue-Ocean strategy that needs to be acknowledged , celebrated and emulated as Shekhar Kapur compliments.
Four, by splitting a comic storyline into an ambitious two-part movie, Rajamouli has just tested the waters to make big period stories bigger with milkable franchise value. For those who saw the first part with passable fare, the promise for more action and drama in the second part will intrigue genuine film-lovers now. Had the makers announced at the outset that there will be a two-part movie, not many would have shown interest to buy the film. The news was kept under wraps until 95 per cent of the film shooting for the first part was completed, including the post-production work. Now, those who felt the film was abrupt will have reasons to look forward to the sequel that promises to conclude it all.
If the film continues the dream run it had in the opening weekend well into the second week, it will surely give more sleepless nights to Salman Khan whose “Bhajrangi Bhaijaan” is slated for release on next Friday. But for now, the film has given the most loyal and jingoistic Tollywood fans many reasons to toast. Yes, even Americans and key intention wal markets worldwide who spend over a trillion dollars every year on films now know a blockbuster called “Bahubali”. Three cheers to that! And more power to Tollywood. We at Telugu360.com will keep tracking these history-making moments for the film-lovers.