If you ever wish to achieve what Baahubali has attained, here are 5 most basic yet most important things you need to do
What’s common between Wanted, Ghajini, Rowdy Rathore, Billu and Action Jackson?
Well, apart from being loud and crowd pleasing potboilers, the above mentioned movies, are remakes of popular South Indian films. Though remakes from South Indian cinema have been prevalent in Bollywood since Sooryavansham days, I believe it was Salman Khan’s Wanted that had opened the doors to plethora of South Indian remakes. Even though I personally hated Wanted, I have to admit that it was some kind of a trendsetter post which Bollywood started churning out South remakes in large numbers.
My point is that filmmakers in our country have this habit of following a trend. Everyone wants to ride the wave created by a blockbuster film but tend to produce substandard clones of the trendsetter in an attempt to replicate it’s success. And the latest trendsetter in Indian cinema is none other than SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali. Even though fans might not want to accept, but the Vijay-Sridevi starrer Puli is actually a poor man’s Baahubali. Right from its basic storyline of an orphaned protagonist meeting his royal destiny to the film being dubbed in Hindi and Telugu to the hype around its VFX effects, Puli has desperately tried to emulate Baahubali’s success. And that has turned out to be one of the gravest mistakes made by makers of Puli.
Going by it’s trailer, Anushka Shetty’s period war film Rudhramadevi too has striking similarities with Baahubali. And mark my words, we are gonna see a lot of period fantasy films in years to come. I understand that Baahubali’s grand success has opened doors to this long forgotten genre. And the audience’s acceptance is encouraging filmmakers to venture into this genre. But BEWARE! Before you jump into the Baahubali bandwagon and rush into making a film ala Rajamouli’s masterpiece, here are 5 most basic things you should keep in your mind.
Now these 5 lessons from Baahubali that I am gonna point out are not that easy to follow. But if filmmakers follow these 5 lessons, then a lot of money can be saved and poor audience will be spared from being tortured with substandard sh*t! Ready to learn from the masterpiece called Baahubali? Here we go:
Don’t Rush, Keep calm!
Filmmaking is not just an art form anymore. It has turned into a money making business with big production houses spending insane amount on films hoping to make huge profit. And in a mad rush to make quick money, some of the finest factors of filmmaking are sadly overlooked. I am talking about the pre production and post production phases of filmmaking. While a lot of attention goes into shooting a film, filmmakers nowadays are unwilling to spend enough time on pre production and post production. To achieve a classy product, hours and hours of meticulous planning is required ahead of the shoot. And that is why pre production activities are important as they form the blue print of the film. And once the shoot is over, post production activities are equally important as they help produce a well polished final product. And if you plan to make a film like Baahubali, then you should be willing to spend a great amount of time paying attention to detail in pre production and post production phases. Baahubali was shot over 300 days, but it took more than 3 years for the film to release as Rajamouli and his team were busy visualising and bringing their thoughts to life in pre-production and post production stages respectively. Meticulous detailing had went into designing the sets, costumes, character looks. A great deal of time had been spent into perfecting the visual effect. One has to keep calm and show tremendous perseverance to achieve the quality of Baahubali.
Story is the King
We have all heard phrases like ‘Content Is King’ and ‘Story Is The Real Hero’. But I ask you to touch your heart and truthfully tell how often have seen a film where importance to story telling is at par with importance to star power. The ugly truth of our industry is that star worships and other gimmicky, massy elements are valued far more than a good story. While half the time stars manage to rescue the film with the help of their die hard fan following, sometimes no amount of star power is enough to save the butt of a crappy film. Take an example of Puli, which failed despite of having a stellar starcast including superstar Vijay, veteran actress Sridevi, popular actresses Shruti Haasan and Hansika. And when I say importance to story telling, I don’t expect a novel plot in every other film. All a fan wishes to see is an entertaining film, which will not bore them with lethargic story telling riddled with age old cliches. Despite having a terrific star cast and breath taking VFX, the heart of Rajamouli’s Baahubali lies in its story telling. The amount of buzz around the question why Kattappa killed Baahubali gives us a fair idea of how much the story of the film has impacted the audience. So the moral of this lesson is that an engaging screenplay is as important as signing an A-lister in your film.
Audiences are not fools
One of the key things while trying to make period fantasy flick is visual effects. Now, many filmmakers make peace with mediocre often poor VFX effects, thinking that it is not bad according to Indian standards. But what they are forgetting is that their competition is not with crappy VFX in old Indian flicks. Over the years, Hollywood as found a huge market in India. Films like Gravity, Martian, The Hobbit are not just appreciated by multiplex audience in urban centres, but even dubbed Hollywood films like Jurassic Park series, Lord of the Rings trilogy have found audience in B and C centres. While even our rural audience gets a chance to see English films with high quality visual effects, thinking that substandard VFX work is enough to please the Indian viewers is foolishness. The bottom line is you can’t fool the audience with mediocre CGI as we as viewers have enough exposure to Hollywood films. SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali tried its very best to give VFX effects at par with Hollywood standards and never compromised on the quality of graphics work. And the result is that the audience appreciated the herculean effort put by the VFX team of Baahubali and chose to overlook the few flaws in CGI. Strive to give your audience nothing but the best.
Don’t even try until you have the moolah
Again I am going to take Puli’s reference hear ( Boy! Vijay fans are gonna hate me). There is a talk among the fans that films like Puli with not so great VFX, should be encouraged as it is a brave attempt in fantasy fiction genre. But let me ask you, would director Chimbu Devan be happy with Puli’s final outcome? I am sure he would have imagined and visualised Puli in much grander scale with flawless graphics. But the problem with Puli was that it was well short of the kinda budget required to pull off such grand films. While it is good to dream something different and try to achieve it, the filmmakers should understand that budget constraints can make their film look like extremely shabby and caricature like. So unless and until you have tremendous financial power to fuel your project, it is of absolutely no use to make a half hearted film with mediocrity written all over it. I mean what’s the point of spending so much money and then not being able to achieve what you dreamt of. In Baahubali’s case, Shobhu Yarlagadda and K Raghavendra Rao believed in Rajamouli’s vision and were ready to pour in over Rs 250 crores to make the film. So unless, you have investors ready to pour in that kind of money, I suggest you keep your dream project in back burner.
Promote it like there is no tomorrow
Now comes the most important part of filmmaking machinery – Promotions. If you are sure you have made a great film that can rub its shoulders along with the likes of Baahubali, then you really need to go all out promoting the film. What’s the use of making a masterpiece with people not willing to watch it. It is highly important to come up with strategies to create a buzz around your film. Karan Johar’s association with Baahubali was so important for the film, as KJo made sure that the film was promoted in such a large scale that even audience from interiors of India talked about it. From promotional events to press conferences to interviews, Karan made sure that India knew who Rajamouli, Prabhas and Rana Daggubati were. That’s kind of promotional ammo you need to propel your dream vehicle. While Puli and Rudhramadevi tried to promote their films as pan India flicks just like Baahubali, there was no real power in their promotional strategies as a result Hindi versions of these films are sure to bomb at box office. So if you want to compete with Baahubali, then learn how to sell yourself like Baahubali. But before that make sure that you have followed the first four lessons and have come up with a high quality product.
So if any film producer or director, with plans to make a period fantasy film ala Baahubali, is reading this, I hope you will take my points into consideration and save poor audiences’ time and money by not churning out substandard clones of Rajamouli’s magnum opus.
The following post was first published in BollywoodLife