– Rinku Gupta
The trailer of Baahubali : The Conclusion has created a buzz around the battle between the Mahishmati scions Baahubali and Bhallaladev. The film which is grander and greater in scale will have even more intricately choreographed epic war scenes apart from one final big war between Prabhas and Rana. In a chat with Rana aka Bhallaladev, we discover how much of preparation went into making this scenes come alive.
Rana’s physical transformation into the giant, menacing Bhallaladev has been total. In Baahubali 2, we will see an even more fierce Rana, going by the glimpses in the trailer. The prequel is touted to be a clash of the titans Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallaladev, battling it out on many fronts, culminating in a giant final war sequence. How physically exhausting was shooting the battles for Rana despite his high fitness levels? Was there any one fight he remembers in particular which drained him physically? Says Rana, “Every stunt scene in the film has been unique in the way it has been choreographed by an entire team. We have used all kinds of war equipment, right from maces and swords to fighting on massive chariots and on horse back. Normally, we see a lot of martial art stunts in films but in Baahubali, you will see more of Indian style hand-to-hand combat. I have been a part of the film for over four years now and injuries and exhaustion have been part of the day’s work. I can’t name any one scene as particularly exhausting because it would be an injustice to the efforts we put in for all the others.“
Apart from all the action sequences what will stand out in Baahubali 2 will be the final showdown in the war sequence between Rana and Prabhas in the climax. To shoot this scene, the team underwent a lot of preparation to get it just right, keeping in mind the massive scale of the scene. Reveals Rana, “A special team comprising Hollywood action choreographer John Griffith (The Planet Of The Apes and X Men First Class fame) meticulously planned the action sequences for us. Hollywood action director Lee Whittaker and Solomon were present on ground during shoot executing the final war scenes with us. We shot for this final battle of Mahishmathi on a specially designed massive War set in the huge grounds of Ramoji Film City. Nearly 3000 junior artistes were present as soldiers, apart from the cast members. We shot the final war scenes for around 65 days. But for everything to go off smoothly during such a large scale shoot, we prepared for it by rehearsing the stunts for a period of four and half months. This preparation involved Prabhas, stunt crew and I, along with the stunt choreographers. Usually for any film, we either rehearse an action scene a day in advance or a few hours before the shoot itself. This is the first time I have been part of such a large scale preparation for action sequences of a film and have done large scale combat with various weapons. Even the rope rigging techniques were complicated, specialised and something I experienced for the first time.“
Rana believes it has been a huge learning curve, thanks to SS Rajamouli and his team, “Baahubali has been an experience of a lifetime. Doing things no one normally attempts in Indian cinema, it has prepared me for the next ten years of my career in films.”