Bollywood rekindles its love affair with mythology, a slew of big films are in the offing

Baahubali’s massive success has clearly reinstated Indian filmmakers’ love for mythology. Though the film was a mythological fiction that takes inspiration from history, what impressed audiences is the narrative, larger-than-life representation, visuals and performances. Even recent reruns of TV shows Mahabharata and Ramayana topped the charts. Taking a cue, Bollywood is geared up to tap the mytho space, once again. A number of big-budget films including Akshay Kumar’s Ram Setu, Prabhas’ Adipurush, Vicky Kaushal’s The Immortal Ashwatthama, Deepika Padukone’s Draupadi, Nitish Tiwari’s Ramayan Trilogy and Ram Udyawar’s next are in the queue.

The story of Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra reportedly traces roots into Hindu mythology, too. There were reports about Aamir Khan wanting to do a series around Mahabharat.

It seems actors too are thrilled to be a part of such projects. Announcing Ram Setu, Kumar expressed excitement on social media by saying, “…Let us endeavour to keep alive the ideals of Ram in the consciousness of all Bharatiyas by building a bridge (setu) that will connect generations to come…”, while Prabhas was quoted as saying how portraying a character like Lord Ram in Adipurush “comes with tremendous responsibility and pride”.

Interestingly, Bhushan Kumar’s production company that’s bankrolling Adipurush, is planning one more film in the genre.

“This film is a tribute to my father (late Gulshan Kumar). Mythological films have become a developing market since the game-changer Baahubali. Pre-production is on and Om (Raut; filmmaker) is developing things in a never seen before format. After this film is done, we’ve another concept ready around the genre,” informs Kumar.

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Trade Expert Taran Adarsh says this is a “revival of a trend” that was there during the black and white era. “Back then, many historical, mytho and costume dramas were made but in-between, they disappeared until Baahubali came. Its success made many rediscover this genre and ignited the intention of tapping it to the fullest,” he adds.

Given Baahubali’s performance in overseas market, filmmakers have realised that such films work globally, claims trade Expert Joginder Tuteja.

“Hollywood superhero films have many takers here due to our audience’s craze for the genre. Apart from Krrish, we don’t really have home-grown superheroes, but our mythology and epics do have plenty. Then why not bring them to the fore?” he asks.

However, Adarsh shares that making these films can be “tricky” given that one can’t afford to make factual errors, hence a lot of research is required. In fact, about his film Adipurush, director Raut had spoken about the extensive “research and rewriting” that went in. “There are too many preparations underway. From a historical point of view, the notes are already there,” Raut had said.

Another thing that works in favour of such films is the advancement of technology, opines trade expert Komal Nahta.

“They require proper visual effects and graphics, so larger-than-life perfection is achievable or else they’d fail to appeal to the audience. Good news is producers are ready to invest well in such projects,” explains Nahta.

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According to industry sources, most of these films based on mythology have whopping budgets over 300-350 crore and it only goes up when it’s a trilogy. One wonders how such films would fare in the aftermath of the pandemic as most of them releases in the second half of 2021 or 2022.

“By that time hopefully theatres would function as they normally would do. These being big-screen films can rake in the moolah, as audiences who’ve been missing the experience, would rush back to theatres. Also, apart from theatres, there are satellite, digital rites and overseas market. All these will help recover the cost and hopefully in making profits too,” Nahta shares.

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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ

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