‘Baahubali: Crown of Blood’ review: SS Rajamouli and Sharad Devarajan’s animation series needed more punch

Sharad Kelkar voices Baahubali | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The animated series Baahubali: Crown of Blood strives to capture the essence of its cinematic predecessors and the larger-than-life superhero ventures. The show, streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, serves as a precursor to SS Rajamouli’s acclaimed Baahubali films. The monumental achievement of Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and its follow-up Baahubali: The Conclusion (2017) helped bridge the gap between regional cinema, enabling films like KGF, Pushpa, and Rajamouli’s very own RRR to dream on a grand scale.

Launched nearly a decade after the original Baahubali movie, Crown of Blood tries to bank on the original characters’ fame, with creators Rajamouli and Sharad Devarajan at its helm. The series—co-written by Sarwat Chadda, Jeevan J Kang, and Shivangi Singh—takes place in advance of the tale presented in the movies. There’s also Anand Neelakantan’s book trilogy, which delves into Sivagami’s earlier years. A project was in the works to turn the books into a series, but it didn’t come to fruition. Rajamouli and Devarajan previously joined forces for 2017’s Baahubali: The Lost Legends.

Baahubali: Crown of Blood takes viewers to a time before the films, presenting Baahubali and Bhallaladeva as they contend with an adversary, uncovering dark truths along the way. The Hindi series unfolds over nine episodes, with the first lasting nearly half an hour and the rest spanning 19 to 22 minutes. The show benefits from Hindi speaking actors who reprise their dubbing roles from the films—Sharad Kelkar for Baahubali, Samay Thakkar for Kattappa, Mausam for Sivagami, and Manoj Pandey for Bhallaladeva. Other language versions, like Telugu, which had two episodes previewed in Hyderabad, would have had a greater impact had the original movie stars, Prabhas and Rana Daggubati, provided the voices for Baahubali and Bhallaladeva, enhancing the characters’ continued resonance with the audience.

Baahubali: Crown of Blood (Hindi, dubbed in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada)

Directors: Jeevan J Kang and Naveen John

Creators: SS Rajamouli and Sharad Devarajan

Storyline: Set as a prequel to the Baahubali movies, the animated series depicts how Baahubali and Bhallaladeva unite against a foe threatening the Mahishmati kingdom, finding hidden past scandals in the process.

Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

The animated characters bear likeness to the original actors—such as Prabhas as Baahubali—that holds viewer engagement to some degree, though the animation quality could be improved. Notably absent are the characters of Devasena and Avantika, as their stories occur after the narrative timeline of this series.

The audience is thrust into a crisis faced by the Mahishmati kingdom, with the menacing Raktadeva playing antagonist. Early on, the series introduces a scheme to create conflict between Mahishmati and Garuda Rajyam, with Baahubali suspecting deceit.

The narrative occasionally flashes back to the youths of Amarendra Baahubali and Bhalla, shedding light on their formative years. Baahubali’s compassionate nature and Bhalla’s power-driven coldness are revealed through their interactions with the people, reminiscent of the second film’s portrayal of Baahubali and Devasena among the common folk.

Despite the series’ adherence to the established character dynamics and the film’s love for battle gadgetry, it lacks novelty in storytelling, resulting in predictability. One exception is the startling uncovering of Bijjaladeva’s backstory. Sivagami’s character is given more depth, whereas Bhalla and Baahubali are seen wresting with potential roles as leaders, and Bijjaladeva remains rather one-dimensional.

Although Baahubali: Crown of Blood tries to tap into the allure of superhero tales, it falls short in both animation and scriptwriting, failing to emerge from the shadow of the original movies.

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