India's Most Expensive Film 'Bahubali' Opens Strongly, Garners Critical Acclaim


The $40 million historical epic has been likened to 'Avatar' and 'Lord of the Rings' and looks set to rewrite box office history.

Bahubali (The One With Strong Arms), touted as India's most expensive film with an estimated budget of $40 million, showed some muscle at the box office, with local reports stating that the historical epic recorded the highest opening day take for an Indian film.

The Business Standard reported that Bahubali – The Beginning, the first installment of a planned two-part epic, collected a net of $7.89 million (500 million rupees). This figure surpassed the $7.11 million (450 million rupees) opening day take of previous record holder 2014's Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Happy New Year.

Directed by acclaimed south Indian director S Rajamouli, Bahubali features superstars Prabhas, Rana Daggubati, Anushka Shetty and Tamannaah Bhatia. The film revolves around two warring brothers battling for control of an ancient Indian kingdom. Bahubali was released in the Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi languages and was shot in Ramoji studios in Hyderabad.

According to the Business Standard report, a majority of the film's opening day earnings  almost 440 million rupees  came from the southern Indian states. The film was released worldwide in about 4,200 screens. “According to sources, the film made $1 million in the US, making it one of the most successful theatrical exports from India,” the report added.

Given its strong opening, observers reckon Bahubali could touch the coveted 1 billion rupee mark ($15.78 million)  the local standard for a strong performer  during its opening weekend as final figures become available.

Bahubali also garnered favorable reviews with most critics in praise of the film's VFX and visual appeal.

THR's reviewer Lisa Tsering praised the cinematography, strong performances and score as well as the epic scale of Bahubali, saying it was "possible to enjoy the film as pure entertainment even without being privy to the superlatives surrounding it."

“From the tropical landscapes of Avatar and the bloody battles of The Lord of The Rings films, to the images from [Indian epics] the Mahabharata and the Ramayana that it evokes, Rajamouli’s film hat-tips to its various influences without ever stealing from any,” CNN-IBN news network critic Rajeev Masand stated in his review.

“I have to say that I dread long-drawn skirmishes between armor-clad armies (having suffered through Peter Jackson’s never-ending battles) because they turn so turgid and dull so fast, but the battle scenes in Bahubali are completely engrossing,” said the Indian Express newspaper's Shubhra Gupta.

The Hindu newspaper's Sangeetha Devi Dundoo, while impressed, still had higher expectations, “Bahubali is several notches higher than a regular Telugu film. But it was meant to be a game changer, not a regular film. If a spellbinding saga is what you go looking for, some portions can leave you underwhelmed. The writing could have been better. Yet, there’s so much to root for. As for part two, bring it on!”

The film has also managed to impress international critics such as The Guardian's Mike McCahill who gave Bahubali a four-star rating: “The eponymous hero (“The One with Strong Arms”) embodies several legends for the price of one. Plucked from a river, the infant Bahubali could be Moses; shifting a stone shrine several hundred feet, his teenage self is as hefty as Hercules; swinging from vines so as to climb the waterfall his village sits under, he’s as romantic a figure as Tarzan.”