There’s a scene in the epic climatic battle of SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2 aka ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ where Prabhas and Rana Daggubati take off their armour to show their well-toned bodies, flex their football-sized biceps and lock horns with each other to settle the score. It’s as macho as it gets and shot dramatically with a high-decibel background score to boot but it also makes you wonder if this was the big pay-off we waited two years for?

Let's be honest. Baahubali 1 worked because it was like a breath of fresh air to Indian cinema’s historical fiction genre, especially when compared to Bollywood duds like 'Veer' and 'Mohenjo Daro'. From the battle scenes that reminded us of 'The Lord of the Rings' series or the imagery from Mahabharata, Baahubali was a visual treat that also promised a strong storyline, characters worth rooting for and it left us with a curious cliffhanger.

Baahubali 2, however, offers nothing new. It still revolves around good old palace politics we’ve known from the Amar Chitra Katha days. Conniving plans, crossings, double crossings... all in the lust for power. The writing from KV Vijayendra Prasad fails inspire or to do justice to an epic of such scale. To make matters worse, the dialogues at times are downright corny and plot developments cringe-worthy.

Director Rajamouli, who usually manages to mine out rousing moments even from the most cliched scenarios, fails to do so in his Baahubali sequel. Without giving away any spoilers, let’s just say that some key moments and plot twists feel so forced and silly that you can’t help but think if these super-human characters have only muscles and no brain to think for themselves. Even the much-awaited ‘why Kattappa killed Baahubali’ moment was a bit of a let-down overall. 

The first half spends too much time in establishing Devasena’s younger version and the love story between her and Amarendra Baahubali, due to which the film’s pace takes a backseat. Not just Baahubali but even Devasena is a great warrior. She can take on a dozens of armed men and cut them down to minced meat in a matter of seconds and also romance Baahubali in the middle of all that gore. The film drags in these parts, stretching out an already overlong first half and you wish that the people at the editing table had been stricter.

Another major grouse was Kattappa’s comic avatar. The first half of the sequel sees the great warrior, who honours his word, going completely out of character and pretty much doubling up as court jester in Devasena’s palace. Most of his jokes fall flat, some pay off but it all comes at the cost of characterisation.

Unlike the first part, even the songs in Baahubali 2 are strictly mediocre and do nothing other than slowing down the narrative. The background score is also a colossal disappointment, and fails to provide those hair-raising moments that the prequel successfully did. Another disappointment was the film’s special effects and battle scenes. When compared to the spectacular war scenes from Baahubali 1, the sequel’s VFX and stunts have a Rohit Shetty feel to it and do not reflect the massive amount of moolah spend on them.

In the end, the big question is - was the sequel really warranted? Couldn’t the makers have cut down all the flab and told the Baahubali story in one film? That would have probably made Baahubali a timeless epic, like Sholay. Now it’s just two overlong films which are watchable only because of the sheer spectacle that it is and a sincere performance from its leading man.