It is not often that a regional film transcends all barriers to become a universal hit and favourite. S S Rajamouli's "Baahubali: The Beginning" is definitely a rarity there. And with the first part already being called India's answer to the "Lord of the Rings" by many, the burden of expectation on Rajamouli's shoulders is definitely unenviable.
The film ended in a cliffhanger of sorts, with the big question of why Kattappa killed Baahubali rivalled in popularity only by the likes of "Hum Chlormint kyun khaate hain?" or "Melody itni chocolaty kyun hai?" As in everybody's asking it. But there's a fundamental difference between the cliffhanger and the two probably-rhetorical advertising catchphrases: The answer to the former is already doing the rounds in the form of a WhatsApp message. If you want to avoid that spoiler, please don't read further.
If you are reading this, you are probably a fan and don't need any introduction to the world and character Rajamouli has created for "Baahubali". So, there is no introduction to characters, just names. And here's the theory.
Apparently, Baahubali falls in love with Devasena, but so does Bhallaladeva. Sivagami Devi comes up with a solution to this: Whoever marries Devasena will have to leave the throne and go into exile.
Baahubali happily complies, clearing the path for Bhallaladeva to become king.
However, the Kalakeya attack again, and Baahubali comes back to help his people again. His success only fans the flames of fear and jealousy in Bhallaladeva, who, as the king, orders Kattappa, who we know is forever beholden to the throne, to kill Baahubali, lest he reclaim the throne.
Is it possible?
There are several elements in "Baahubali: The Beginning" that prop up this theory, including Kattappa's hate of Bhallaladeva, and Bhallaladeva's own envy at Baahubali's rise and hate of Devasena. It shows Bhallaladeva's actions in wanting to wipe out Baahubali's name from public memory in new light.
However, given the number of non sequiturs in the first part — like Bhallaladeva's self-defeating decision of keeping Devasena, living reminder of Bhaahubali, chained in public while he works extra hard to stamp out Baahubali's name — one may be forgiven if more of them creep into the second.
Then there's the question of why Kattappa disobeyed a royal order and did not kill Baahubali's son, instead choosing to tell him the full story of his family. But that might have to do with one scene at the end of the film, where Kattappa is seen touching the feet of Baahubali's infant son on his head. Was that a special order from Sivagami?
Is it probable?
Yes, it is. And more so because the theory got "leaked". Such leaks are not all that uncommon in the film industry these days, and often work to create a buzz about the film, or even introduce the audience to an otherwise hostile plot point, so by the time the film is released, people are not too averse to it.
This is what apparently happened with Aamir Khan-starrer "Talaash", where social media was agog with rumour that Kareena Kapoor's character was that of a ghost in the film. "Talaash" had a tight plot, and once this bit of plot twist was out of the way, people could concentrate on the main story, which was better than the humdrum offerings in Hindi cinema these days.
It also happened to another Aamir Khan-starrer, "PK", where people seemed to know from much earlier that the eponymous character would be an alien. With that bit of shock out of the way, people were able to concentrate more on PK's (mis)adventures. Otherwise, all those shenanigans would have been lost on a shell-shocked audience that had just been served up something too much to digest right at the beginning of the film.
Therefore, in case of "Baahubali", there is quite some chance that the leaked theory will be seen in the sequel. While some may argue that if this leak was real, it would damage the film, the truth is this theory will actually add to the buzz and wonder around the film. Here's how.
We know the first half of "Baahubali: The Beginning" was the current story, while the second half was the full flashback. Expect the reverse in "Baahubali: The Conclusion". The first half will continue the flashback, wherein the entire Baahubali-Devasena-Bhallaladeva story will play out. So people know only one part of the story.
The second half, predictably, will be about Baahubali's son reclaiming the throne. But is it rightfully his?
Expect that to be revealed as well. And this is the story that people will be able to focus on once that flashback is done with.
The leak has achieved a kind of twin objectives: It has not only kept the "Baahubali" franchise alive in people's minds, but also made them pliable for some of the biggest twists to come. And to be honest, "Baahubali" is not just about what happens, but how it unfolds. As a result, even if people know what is about to happen, they will be hooked to the screen to see how it is happening. And therein lies the mantra of the franchise's success!
(The writer is a journalist with IBTimes. The views are personal)