The legacy of historical epic film-making in India is long stretched. The Hollywood giants such as Lord of The Rings have always been a reverberating reminder of the possibilities of a ginormous storyline. S.S. Rajamouli’s Bahubali is often described as India’s finest attempt at such large-scale epic historical storytelling. The Prabhas starring film left an impact unprecedented in India.

Adipurush is not Rajamouli’s latest installment but is instead Om Raut’s ambitious project. The latest teaser of Adipurush however received disastrous reactions from Indian netizens and VFX is hardly the only reason why. 

More on Adipurush

Adipurush literally translates to “The First Man” and is a retelling of the world-renowned history’s grandest Sanskrit legend in Hindu cosmology. The story of Ramayana is revered throughout India. Directed by Om Raut and produced by T-Series, the film stars Prabhas as the Om Janakai Vallabhaya Namaha Vishnu Avatar Sri Ram.

The film also stars Kal Ho Na Ho’s Saif Ali Khan as Lankapati Ravana, the villain of the historical epic of Ramayana. The film is scheduled for theatrical release on 12 January 2023. The budget for the film is reportedly 500 Crore in Indian Rupee which translates to about 6 Million USD.

The Legacy left behind by Bahubali

Bahubali’s narrative, its broad storytelling, larger-than-life fictional figures resembling historical pin-points, and glorious sound score – all led to its glory. It is also obviously imminent that a film’s success is marked by the critical review as well as audience reception.

  • Bahubali left a legacy and was only succeeded by Bahubali 2: The Conclusion. Rajamouli’s vision of a legendary warrior son of a formidable god-like king truly reached everyone. Bahubali was known for a lot of things that include special effects but are not limited to it.
  • In such instances, we can take the example of the recent Brahmastra film which more or less relies completely upon its visual aesthetics rather than plot and storytelling charisma. The legacy of Bahubali is such that it gave confidence to many who wanted to tell historical stories but didn’t attempt anything that contained too much of technical specialties.
Bahubali Prabhas
Bahubali, courtesy of timesofindia

To name a few past bollywood attempts

  • Of course, we have had the aging-like-wine Jodha Akbar love retelling in Indian cinema, and the Shah Rukh Khan starring Asoka. The Indian audience knew these films in their time but for completely different reasons.
  • No one attempted something of the caliber of Bahubali ever before in the Indian cinema industry. Rajamouli gave confidence to a line of new workers, visionaries, and cinema enthusiasts who had amazing stories to tell and histories to relive.

Ever since we have seen many flourishes in Bollywood. To state a few examples, Tanhaji (by Om Raut, the very person directing Adipurush), Mohenjo Daro, and Bajirao Mastani. From the southern segments of India, we have had Rajnikant’s Kochadaiiyaan, Sye Raa Narsimha Reddy of Chiranjeevi, etc. 

Bahubali Prabhas
via official youtube trailer of Adipurush in T-SERIES chnnale

Why adapting Historical epic fiction is not an easy task

The mentioning of Bahubali is relevant primarily because Bahubali itself set a great standard. After it a pan-India attempt at historical plot-focused filmmaking found pace. It is only recently that the Tamil film industry attempted their shot at the making of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s Pooniyin Selvan.

Pooniyin Selvan only recently got its cinematic adaptation

The novel by Kalki was so profound that when it was published in the weekly Kalki its circulation reached about 72,000 copies. (Yes, Kalki is the name of the magazine as well as the author)

Attempts to create such a legendary piece of fiction into a cinematic adaptation were always grim. Yet with the recent developments in Indian film-making, Kalki’s Pooniyin Selvin found its way into the big screens. Such developments include the globalized sharing of ‘industry grade’ specialization on special effects and also the hype left behind by the legacy of Bahubali.

Stories are told only if they are sold

Adipurush teaser Bahubali Prabhas
Prabhas releasing his astra (weapon, arrow) (via T-Series youtube channel)

The reason why it is only recently that the Tamil industry attempted to adapt Kalki’s Pooniyin Selvan has to be credited in some dimensions at least, to the legacy left behind by Bahubali and the courage it has given to the filmmakers.

The way of the market is that stories run when the audience receives them well. And in a capitalist society grooming with profit, it is difficult to create stories without taking into consideration the receptivity of the audiences. Such works of art are usually indie films and not large-scale production works that have a lot of money and business involved.

Audience’s reception of the teaser of Adipurush 

To bring it to the layman, the Indian audience has more or less disdained the Adipurush teaser. We first scanned the youtube comment section of the Adipurush trailer.

Adipurush teaser Saif Ali Khan Bahubali
Ravana riding a poorly animated cartoonish dragon, via T-SERIES YT channel
  1. An obvious number morbidly vilified the thrashing logic of the character gimmicks and usage of historically-inaccurate pictorial representations. Few of such mishaps look like Saif Ali Khan (who is playing Ravana) riding what seems to be a horrendously animated Dragon.
  2. A number of people also seemed to have felt a stingy hit to appreciate the old as one netizen said “Old is gold”, referring to the previous TV developments of Ramayana. The netizens felt that the previous works using practical effects, sets, costumes, and theatrics did a better job to represent Ramayana. This also happened without everything relying upon only VFX (sorry Brahmastra). People also revered the Japan-India collaboration in making the animated (Anime) film Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Ram. 

A few also remarked on the promising Hindi voice actor of Prabhas Sharad Kelkar who also dubbed his Hindi voice in Bahubali. This is about the only positive response we could find in the comment section.

What people are saying in subreddits

We took it to Reddit to see how people are reacting to Adipurush. Well, it wasn’t any more sunshine than Youtube.

  1. The people brought out how this is a huge waste of a chance for Indian filmmaking. The cult following of Ramayana reaches the sky and beyond. Not even 24 hours after the release of the teaser and it has already garnered over 70 million views.
  2. That’s comparable to the hype of the Avengers Infinity Wars trailer or the KGF Chapter 2 teaser.
Saif Ali Khan's portrayal in Adipurush
Saif Ali Khan’s portrayal in Adipurush via T-series official YT

Fans feel that the Ravana is a sugar-coated cringe Viking rip-off whose short hair with a long beard does not resemble even a miniature frame in the lore of the son of the great sage Vishrava.

If anything, the poorly animated jumping Chimpanzees are only a forlorn attempt at making reactions and squeezing cheese out of something which is already epic by origin. (referring to the Ramayana legacy and its cultural repercussions).

Conclusion

apes in Adipurush
Rise of the planet of the apes. Wait, No, I mean The Banar Sena (Ape Army) in Adipurush, via T Series YT

The VFX of Adipurush is not the only concern for those receiving the teaser. The character markup of Ravana is straight-up juicy and makes up for a devastating inaccurate representation of a cultural force of nature named Ravana. People also seemed to admonish the apparently ‘steroid-pushed‘ gym-built herculean muscle mass of actor Prabhas given that Ram in his Vanabas (exiled to forest) can not possibly be a gym-enthusiast and probably missed a lot of chest-day.


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Rhytham is a Philosophy graduate who founded a state-level organization that promotes anime and Japanese culture in his home state of Assam India. The org is named Assam Senpai Society. He is also an ardent writer, poet, musician, vocalist, graphic designer, and photoshop artist. He has worked on multiple state and national level conventions. Other than anime, catch him watching western series that really have in themselves the solidity to catch his attention.