"Affable Hero Discovers His Identity in a Pagan World"
What You Need To Know:
BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING wavers between amazing, grand scenery with austere acting to the occasional campy scene including some special effects glitches and editing mistakes. The dominant worldview is strongly pagan with subtle polytheistic references, mixed with a tale of good and evil. The violent battle scenes and abhorrent idol worship with animal sacrifice make BAAHUBALI unacceptable viewing.
(PaPaPa, FRFRFR, B, VVV, S, A, MMM) Very strong pagan, polytheistic worldview including animal sacrifice to pagan idols with the exception of only two characters who seek to end senseless sacrifice, and there are references to deities of nature; no foul language, but strong warlike language; very strong, strong and light violence includes several fighting and war sequences, sacrifice of an ox, beheading on the battlefield, with the head catapulting in the air and the body walking several steps with no head, blood is shown but not overly gory; some of the song and dance scenes include suggestive dancing and light embraces, and one implied sex scene; no actual explicit nudity, but brief upper back female nudity, dance costumes expose the midriff section; alcohol use is featured in one scene; no smoking; and, multiple instances of miscellaneous immorality including lying, stealing, revenge, greed, virtually every character has one or more tattoos, and self-worship.
BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING is the first part of a creative fantasy epic from South India, set in the mythical land of Mashimati. This “Tollywood” film differentiates from the standard Bollywood due to a grander plot based on royal intrigue and warring tribes, a few song and dance scenes, and is based in the Telugu language. The version reviewed was dubbed in Hindi with English subtitles. BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING tells an epic, engaging, violent story but features a very strong pagan, polytheistic worldview including abhorrent Hindu idols that require animal sacrifice and prayers to pagan gods.
An elderly royal woman saves an infant from peril. She prays to her god and then sacrifices herself by walking through a raging river holding the child above the water. A tribesman runs out to rescue the infant. As he lifts the child, the woman points to the waterfall mountain and then floats downstream.
The tribesman delivers the infant to Sanga, the chief’s overbearing wife, who adopts him. The adopted son, Shivudu, matures into a jovial, adventurous man with a curiosity about the waterfall mountain. He tries to climb the mountain many times but fails. Sanga, frustrated with Shivudu’s obsession with the mountain, prays to her pagan god and pours water over a stone altar to get him stop thinking about the mountain. Shivudu, who doesn’t want his mother to be overburdened with the senseless act of fetching and pouring water over the altar, strikes the base of the altar to release it, lifts and carries it to a waterfall. As he places it under the waterfall, Shivudu explains that Sanga’s god should be satisfied. The act of lifting and carrying the massive stone altar magnifies Shivudu to the status of a god within the tribe.
Shivudu receives a wooden mask that washes ashore. Newly inspired, he resumes the climb up the waterfall mountain and succeeds. In the snowy forest at the top, a young woman flees from soldiers pursuing her. It turns out she’s leading them into a trap where she and other resistance fighters kill all the soldiers. The young woman, Avanthika, and the resistance fighters have sworn allegiance to Queen Devasena who’s being held captive in the courtyard of King Bhallaladeva, the leader of Mahishmati. Shivudu falls in love with Avanthika, woos her and wins her love. Without knowing anyone involved, he pledges to help her save the Queen.
At this point, the movie introduces the King, who’s a strong, diabolical dictator. He’s holding the Queen as a prisoner. Shivudu and the resistance fighters plan to free the Queen during the King’s big birthday celebration. In the process of carrying out the plan, Shivudu discovers his true identity: he’s the son of the King’s brother, who the King had murdered to seize the throne.
The landscape and grandiose settings lend to the epic quality of BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING. Most of the special effects are phenomenal, but a few glitches were noticeable. There were also a few jolting editing cuts that made the quality seem less than pristine. Most of the actors performed well. with some campy characters thrown into the mix.
The biggest concerns regarding BAAHUBALI: THE BEGINNING are the violent battle scenes, the overt and abhorrent idol worship with animal sacrifice, and some sensual dancing. BAAHUBALI has an abhorrent pagan, polytheistic worldview, mixed with a plot of good versus evil. The movie’s violence warrants extreme caution, but the idol worship makes the movie unacceptable viewing for Christians.