It cannot get bigger than this. Finally, Telugu hitmaker S.S. Rajamouli’s big-budget period action extravaganza Baahubali is releasing worldwide this Friday (July 10), in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam in nearly 4,000 screens worldwide. The film features top south Indian artistes such as Prabhas, Rana, Anushka, Tamannaah, Sathyaraj, Nassar and Ramya Krishnan in key roles. Baahubali is said to be India’s answer to Hollywood period spectacles such as Ben-Hur, Troy, Gladiator and 300 .
Rajamouli has spent more on production than on any artiste in the film — a rare feat in Indian commercial cinema. He had roped in the best of technicians and National Award winners like production designer Sabu Cyril, music director Keeravani and visual effects supervisor V. Srinivas Mohan. Rajamouli, in an interview, said: “I have lavished on production within our limited budget. It will be an achievement if Indian cinema can produce Hollywood-quality content within our budget as they are ahead of us in writing and execution.”
Rajamouli, with a track record of making special effects-rich blockbusters, such as Magadheera and Eega , has been working on Baahubali for the last three years. Twenty-six VFX Studios (Indian and international) and 600 graphic artists worked to give it the mammoth VFX experience.
Baahubali , in two parts, is said to be the costliest Indian film ever made at a whopping Rs. 250 crore. Rajamouli explained: “The story is so big that we can’t say it through one film. We tried compressing the entire story into one film, but realised it was not working as we were losing some of the film’s emotional quotient. That’s when we decided to release it in two parts, in a gap of 10 months. ”
Never before have so many leading production houses come together to market a film of such scale. The film, produced by Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, is being marketed by the producers themselves through their Arka Mediaworks in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Rajamouli and producer Shobu have roped in leading producers in other languages too to market the film — Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions in Hindi, Studio Green’s K.E. Gnanavel Raja in Tamil (through Sri Thenandal Films), Global United Media in Kerala and the U.S.-based BlueSky Cinemas overseas. In an exclusive interview, producer Shobu Yarlagadda said: “A lot of money is riding on Baahubali . We decided to go nationwide not only to recover cost but also to give that reach that Rajamouli has worldwide. His Eega ( Makkhi in Hindi) was a hit in the northern belt and had phenomenal viewership when shown on television. However, the film was not marketed properly, so we thought a well-established local player will give us a wider reach for Baahubali .”
Rana Daggubati was instrumental in getting Karan Johar onboard. Karan said: “When Rana mentioned the name of Rajamouli, I immediately said yes to present the film as I had great trust in Rajamouli, given his nationwide fan following. I've been a huge fan of his work and have seen all his films.” Johar is releasing it like a big budget Bollywood film with aggressive promotions, including a star-studded premiere in Mumbai. The question being asked in the trade is whether Baahubali in Hindi will be able to crack the record set by Rajinikanth’s Robot (Enthiran ), till now the biggest south Indian hit in North India.
In Tamil Nadu, the film is releasing in 350 screens. K.E. Gnanavel Raja said: “ Baahubali has been simultaneously made in Tamil. It is a once in a lifetime spectacle and is sure to take a thundering opening as all areas have been sold out. Rajamouli is a big brand and his last release Naan Ee was a blockbuster. Also, most of the actors in the film are well-known in the state.”
Meanwhile, in Kerala, the Tamil version of Baahubali is getting dubbed into Malayalam. Prem Menon of Global United Media, said, “Last week we had an exciting promotional event in Kochi where the world’s largest film poster was unveiled at a stadium in the presence of the entire cast and crew. There is tremendous craze for the film in Kerala where it will open in a record 225 screens.”
The main market for Baahubali would remain Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where it will be the biggest-ever release for a regional film. Producer Shobu Yarlagadda pointed out: “We are releasing the film in 1,600 screens in Andhra and Telangana, constituting 90 per cent of the screens in both the states put together. All areas have been sold out at record prices and it is expected to take the biggest-ever opening.”
Baahubali has been a marketing success before release too, especially its social media campaign. Shobu said: “For the last one year, we have invested our time in social media, mainly Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This has attracted the youth. The resulting word-of-mouth has created curiosity among older audiences, hence helping us create a buzz in a cost-effective manner.”
Baahubali is going to be a landmark movie in Indian cinema; at least as far as marketing goes.