Updated: July 10, 2020, 10:29:53 a.m.
Baahubali: The Beginning by director SS Rajamouli was released in cinemas worldwide five years ago today. And the rest is history.
On the fifth anniversary of the film, indianexpress.com spoke to several Telugu directors to understand how the Indian film industry has changed since the epic film was released.
Deva Katta (director, Prasthanam)
Baahubali created a phenomenon. There are few milestones like Sholay and Mayabazar in the history of 100 years of Indian cinema. And Baahubali is one of them. It has shown us that the experience of watching cinema can be so profound. When such films happen, the markets explode. Baahubali expanded the universe of Indian cinema. I think such a phenomenon is unlikely in the next few decades. Baahubali not only made profits for its producers, but also increased the earnings potential of the entire Telugu film industry. This encouraged producers to invest more in films.
Rahul Ravindran (director, Chi La Sow)
Baahubali brought people who didn’t go to the theater for 30 years and people who weren’t interested in films at all. It showed us what the real potential of the Indian market was. For the longest time, I wondered, America has only 30 percent of our population. But the till market is five times as big as we are. China has a slightly larger population compared to us. But when you see the size of your box office, it’s three or four times bigger than we are. In our country barely 2 or 3 percent of the population watch a film. Why is that? I was always amazed. We obviously don’t have the number of theaters America or China have. It is also true that more theaters are only built if you have more theater audiences. And Baahubali came in answer to this question.
Venu Udugula (director, Virata Parvam)
The makers of Baahubali taught us how to advertise a film. They made news out of a film. Baahubali was advertised not only as a film, but also as a carnival. Even those who weren’t interested in films went to the theater to see Baahubali. It increased the respect for the South Indian cinema many times over. After the release of Baahubali 1, every South Indian filmmaker swelled with pride. And it made filmmakers in the north watch what we were doing in the Telugu film industry. The price of dubbing and remake rights for Telugu films also rose.
Nandini Reddy (director, Oh! Baby)
Baahubali took over the power of storytelling from the south and showed it to all of northern India. Until then, only Hindi films were considered worthy of pan-India. South Indian cinema did not previously enjoy this respect. It was assumed that we only make films on a budget and win a few prizes. The Hindi dubbed version of our films was usually played in centers “B” and “C”. Baahubali didn’t have a single North Indian actor and it was celebrated as a Pan-Indian film. I think the last film that did this feat was Roja. Baahubali created mania at the national level. And Bollywood films usually have a higher budget than we do. But we spent less and still showed that size on the screen. We showed everyone what epic really means and how to bring emotions, technical excellence and storytelling to the peak. Baahubali showed South Indian cinema at its best. Baahubali changed the perception of southern cinema forever. After Baahubali, the value that South Indian filmmakers and technicians enjoy is very different from the time before Baahubali. We are taken seriously. The way in which South Indian filmmakers are approached for their work has also changed. Even weddings in northern India have Baahubali themes. A great story has no language and cultural barriers. And Baahubali has proven it.
Vamshi Paidipally (director, Maharshi)
What Rajamouli Sir showed us is the power of a man’s vision. And it brought heads across the country towards Telugu cinema. That’s why I’m proud of this film. This film penetrated every corner of the country and showed us the potential of what such content can do. Telugu films are no longer considered regional. Thanks to Baahubali, they are considered national films. Now everyone is looking at Telugu, what content we are making. This gives us a lot of encouragement to think bigger and bigger. Baahubali also increased the number of visitors to our theaters (in the state of Telugu). It brought a new wave of viewers who don’t normally see films in theaters. After watching movies in cinemas, they kept coming back to find out more. Therefore, the revenue for every film after Baahubali has increased. That could be an event film like Baahubali.
Sudheer Varma (director, Ranarangam)
After Baahubali 1 was released, we realized the size of our market. When you make a film with different content and perfection, language is not an obstacle. Usually people in other languages don’t like dubbed versions. But Baahubali changed it. Imagine a Telugu film dubbed in Hindi is the largest collection of all time in Bollywood. It has also changed the way we budget our films. As long as you have the right script and the right actors, you can invest what is required. We don’t have to worry about exceeding the estimate because you have the audience ready to see it. After Baahubali, most of the major Telugu films collected more. This film changed everything we knew about doing business with the cinema.
Sankalp Reddy (director, The Ghazi Attack)
It doesn’t feel like five years. It feels like yesterday. Baahubali is still fresh in my memory. The film opened new markets for the Telugu film industry worldwide. In India, it set standards for other directors. But so far, no one has managed to achieve it.
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