If Baahubali: The Beginning impressed the audience, it was Baahubali: The Conclusion that stirred up a storm at the box office. Here’s the man behind the Hindi dubbed version, writer-lyricist Manoj Muntashir, in a candid chat with Komal Sharma
Manoj Muntashir was always undecided when it came to making a foray into the dubbed zone in Bollywood. That’s why he wanted to decline the offer when he was approached for Baahubali: The Beginning. It was only after he met the film’s director, SS Rajamouli, that he had no doubt that this was what he wanted to do.
“Since I was doing so well in the Hindi film industry, I thought it was unnecessary for me to do a dubbed film. So I initially thought I would decline the project. But when I met Rajamouli sir, he was magnetic and magical, and it took me only five minutes to decide to do this film.”
There was another potential problem that worried Muntashir. “I shared my concern with him that none of the dubbed films has done exceptionally well in the Hindi film markets. I did not want to translate the film, word for word, so I watched the film, understood the scenes from Rajamouli sir, and asked him what exactly he had conveyed in the scene. He would then explain and I would concentrate on the vocabulary. Besides, the biggest challenge was to lip sync the Hindi dialogue.”
Writing for Baahubali: The Beginning did not carry any pressure for the writer-lyricist, “Because no one actually expected it to be a path-breaking hit in the Hindi circuit. We thought it may do `15-20 crore, which is good. But for a dubbed film to cross `100 crore was phenomenal. In Part One, nobody really pushed me to do this. When the Hindi dialogue matched the lip sync, everyone was like for Part Two, we will work harder. Baahubali: The Conclusion was a pressure ride. In fact, I kept postponing it and would keep telling sir ‘let’s not start today, we will start after four days’ because the pressure was mounting and I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind.”
While there was pressure working on the sequel, there was no pressure at all while working on the songs for both films, there was no pressure at all. “There was no difference in the songs. I had the same thought while writing the songs for the first part, which I had while working on the second. The fact that the songs don’t stand out but support the narrative and compliment it really helped me understand the situations much better. All the songs were meant to carry the story forward.”
Working with Team Baahubali was a learning experience for the talented writer. “My associate producer Devika Bahudhanam was my immediate contact person and the bridge between Rajamouli sir and myself. Due to her knowledge of Telugu and Hindi, she was the one who could help me understand the details of the scenes. I would also like to mention MM Keeravani sir. It was a privilege to work with a composer of his calibre. And, of course, you can learn the true meaning of modesty from SS Rajamouli sir.”