S.S. Rajamouli’s popularity in South Korea was evident Sunday when “Baahubali: The Beginning” played at the Busan Film Festival’s Open Cinema strand where hundreds of Korean fans lined up for the director’s autograph and photos armed with the film’s posters and DVDs of “Eega.” “Baahubali: The Beginning” released in July in India and Indian diaspora territories has grossed a massive $92 million.
Rajamouli has already shot some 40% of “Baahubali: The Conclusion” but hasn’t yet started on the rest because the team took some time off to bask in the success of part one. The sequel will commence shooting at the end of November at the film’s standing sets in Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City and some forest sequences will shoot in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Consequently, the release, which was scheduled for next summer, has been pushed back to the end of 2016.
The final 35 minutes of “Baahubali: The Beginning” features an epic war scene that has had audiences returning to the theaters multiple times. Expectations are therefore huge for the sequel. “We realize that the commercial success of part one predominantly came from the visual effects and the war. And I know people will be expecting more from the second part. They will not be dissatisfied,” says Rajamouli. “It will be much bigger.”
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The “Baahubali” films were together budgeted at $40 million, but now, to accommodate the grander scale, it has grown to a shade under $50 million, says Shobu Yarlagadda, one of the film’s producers at Arka Mediaworks.
The “Baahubali” saga is about brothers in medieval India in conflict over a rich kingdom and is rich in imagery, battles and skulduggery. It stars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty, Tamannah, Sathyaraj and Ramya Krishnan. The first part ended in a cliffhanger that will be resolved in the conclusion. Rajamouli says that the first part was merely an introduction to the story proper that will unfold in the conclusion. He is however not relying just on grandeur and visual effects. “We are banking on emotion, the sequel is much more emotional than part one,” says Rajamouli. “The way the characters behave in part two will be entirely different,” he says. “The characters will be seen in a new light. The characters are the same, but the characterizations will be different.”
Meanwhile, “Baahubali: The Beginning” is poised for an international rollout, beginning with China and Japan. Always known as a blockbuster filmmaker in India, Rajamouli acquired global cult status with his previous film “Eega” after the film played at the L’Etrange Festival, Montreuil, the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, the Shanghai Film Festival, the Madrid Film Festival and the Bucheon Fantastic Film Festival, Korea, amongst others. Yarlagadda expects to close the Korean territory on “Baahubali” imminently.
(Pictured: S.S. Rajamouli signs autographs in Busan Oct. 4.)