×

India Braces for Blockbuster ‘Baahubali’ Release

All movie industry eyes in India this weekend will be turned not to Bollywood, but to Hyderabad and the release of Telugu-language epic action “Baahubali.” The film sets out on some 3,500 screens on Friday (July 10).

The picture is not only the biggest budget Indian film of all time, weighing in at some $40 million for two parts, it is also shaping up to be one of the biggest movie events the country has seen in years.

That’s because the Tollywood (Telugu-language) and Kollywood (Tamil-language) movie industries, though generally less well-known than Mumbai-based Bollywood (Hindi-language), lack nothing in showmanship or entrepreneurialism. They have their own star systems, distribution circuits, and often inspire Bollywood (Hindi-language) creations or remakes.

Produced by Shobu Yarlagadda of Hyderabad-based Arka Mediaworks, “Baahubali,” however, has been engineered to be a nationwide sensation on its own terms – without need for a Bollywood retread.

Each corralling massive social media followings, Prabhas (Varma) is the film’s lead star, while SS Rajamouli is its director. Other top cast include Rana Daggubati and Anushka Shetty.

Popular on Variety

Arka has carefully managed numerous build-up events from the unveiling of the soundtrack to the trailer launch on June 1, which took place in a sports stadium. In February, Twitter India was keen to make it known that Rajamouli announced the film’s release date on its platform first.

Rajamouli says the film’s story is a simple one — “a father who has been back-stabbed, a mother who has been enchained for no wrong of hers and the story of a son who takes revenge” – set in a fictional era, with the two parts spanning two generations.

While the weaponry and folklore are distinctly Indian, the presentation is high tech and modelled on the stylized look of “300.” International VFX firms including John Hughes’ Tau Films and South Korea’s Macrograph providing effects sequences.

Production itself took 450 days, with some location work in Bulgaria, but the majority taking place in Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City, a vast 2,000 acre studios and services complex that is one of the two largest film production platforms in the world and has dozens of different sets and backlots. One battle scene took 40 days to lens.

Arka is overseeing the release in South India and has widely pre-sold the film in other regions of India, giving it a rare all-India wide release. The film scored another coup as Bollywood icon and TV presenter Karan Johar is handling the Hindi release through his Dharma Productions in partnership with Anil Thadani.

“Baahubali – The Beginning” releases this week, with the second part targeting an early 2016 outing. International territories where Indian films don’t normally play will receive a shortened, single version, rather than the combined 290 minutes running time of the Indian two-parter.

The ancillary strategy includes a spinoff TV series, graphic novels and a clothing line. Arka is also in discussions with tech giant AMD to create a “Baahubali”-themed Oculus Rift experience.

More Film

  • Ordinary Justice

    Berlin: 'Ordinary Justice' Director Chiara Bellosi on Fascination With Courthouses

    Young Italian director Chiara Bellosi is at the Berlinale with “Ordinary Justice” which examines the lives of two families on opposite sides of a murder case who intersect on the benches outside the room where the case is being tried. This first work, screening in Generation14Plus, is produced by Carlo Cresto-Dina who discovered Alice Rohrwacher (“The Wonders,” “Happy [...]

  • The Invisible Man

    Elisabeth Moss in 'The Invisible Man': Film Review

    These days, the horror-fantasy thriller tends to be a junk metaphysical spook show that throws a whole lot of scary clutter at the audience — ghosts, “demons,” mad killers — without necessarily adding up to an experience that’s about anything. But in “The Invisible Man,” Leigh Whannell’s ingenious and entertaining update of a concept that’s [...]

  • Nora Arnezeder

    Berlin: Wide's Thriller 'Blast' Sold to Japan, Latin America at the EFM (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Blast,” a high-concept thriller produced and represented in international markets by Paris-based company Wide, has sold to several territories at the EFM in Berlin. Vanya Peirani-Vignes’ feature debut, “Blast” takes place Parisian parking lot where Sonia finds herself trapped in her car with her son while her boyfriend’s daughter has been left outside to deal [...]

  • digger

    Greek Director Grigorakis Saddles up 'Western' 'Digger' at Berlin

    For a feature debut that he describes as a contemporary Western, Greek director Georgis Grigorakis settled on a familiar archetype — “a lonely guy with his horse, with his shotgun” — who, in keeping with the genre’s conventions, is drawn into a confrontation and is prepared to fight to the bitter end in the defense [...]

  • North Macedonian directors Ljubo Stefanov (R)

    Berlin: 'Honeyland' Directors Prepping New Projects (EXCLUSIVE)

    Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, the Macedonian directors of the dual Oscar-nominated documentary “Honeyland,” are prepping several new projects, Variety has learned exclusively. The directing duo are looking to build on the success of their debut, a moving portrait of a lone beekeeper struggling to preserve a traditional way of life, which was nominated for [...]

  • David-Casademunt-and-Joaquin

    Rodar y Rodar Boards “The Beast” (EXCLUSIVE)

    Barcelona-based Rodar y Rodar, producer of Spanish horror titles such as J.A. Bayona’s “The Orphanage” and Oriol Paulo’s “The Body, has thrown its weight behind David Casademunt’s “The Beast,” boarding it as its main producer. “The Beast,” which participated in Filmarket Hub’s 2017 Sitges Pitchbox event as well as Ventana Sur’s 2017 Blood Window, it [...]

  • Bad Tales

    Italy's Pepito Prods. Shines With 'Bad Tales' (EXCLUSIVE) Trailer

    Italy’s Pepito Prods., at Berlin with competition drama “Bad Tales” by Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo, is emerging as a new home for the country’s auteurs.  The company, headed by former RAI head of drama Agostino Saccà in January, scored more than $6 million in Italian cinemas with veteran Gianni Amelio’s “Hammamet,” a biopic of disgraced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content