Bimbisara review: Telugu cinema being Telugu cinema

We had somehow lost the ability to keep the audience hooked to the narrative and Bimbisara does just that.


Published:Aug 17, 2022

bimbisara kalyanram
A textbook example for masala entertainer!


  • Cast: Nandamuri Kalyanram, Catherine Tresa, Samyuktha Menon and Prakash Raj
  • Director: Vasisthta
  • Producer: Hari Krishna K
  • Music: MM Keeravani and Chirrantan Bhatt
  • Runtime: 2 hours 26 minutes

No, Bimbisara is not about the great King who ruled the Magadha empire. He is not your historical figure to demand any sort of historical accuracy.

Indeed, the film in no way pretends to be a historical or a biographical movie.

Within the first five minutes, we see the over-the-top CGI crocodile that becomes Bimbisara’s walkway to his throne.

I ended up watching Bimbisara twice. You may ask why.

I was confused regarding my feelings toward the movie. I liked it and I didn’t like it, too. I didn’t know why.

The storyline was quite simple, the CGI wasn’t that great. Yes, Kalyanram did a fabulous job, but the jokes were campy and we had seen the little girl trope quite a few times.

What was making me feel so good about Bimbisara then?

The crowd-puller

It was in the second viewing that I realised it truly felt like I was back in the theatre after a while. The fans were screaming, there were even kids and the movie allowed me to turn my brain off and enjoy a great show.

Director Vasistha’s first outing has been a while in the making. The concept of a time slip (not the same as travel) is something we have not really explored, to showcase the world from the “yes” of an external entity.

Vasishta deals with that tricky angle well. He wrote his story and followed the formula to the T.

Here is the commercial cinema formula: open with a bang, establish heroic character, add a pinch of comedy, a strong musical number and a showpiece heroine and end the first half with an interval bang.

The beginning of the second half should be slow, as the audience is yet to come back from their break, we continue this slow-paced storytelling till the end, and we end the climax with another bang.

A textbook example

kalyanram bimbisara

Kalyanram’s Bimbisara offers pure entertainment to film-buffs and fans who have been awaiting a masala script for a long time. (Twitter)

Masala cinema exists in a universe between the opening and closing bangs.  Bimbisara is a “textbook example” of how a masala script should be written.

It is also a pretty effective writing tool for the “masala hero”, there is no atomic bomb which can destroy his Hiroshima, there is no Herculean task which is unsurmountable, and there is no river of destiny on which he cannot build a bridge and change the course of his waters.

But the same hero bows down to the love of a little girl and she becomes his greatest weakness. This is the storytelling of yore, and this is what Telugu cinema has been lacking for a while now.

We see masala heroes pretty much single-handedly solve every problem from the banking system to complex agro-economic issues, but they seem to have no real threat or weakness.

Kalyanram has brought back the vulnerability to the character, and that made me look forward to how the hero would end up saving the girl.

Entertainment all the way

We had somehow lost the ability to keep the audience hooked to the narrative and Bimbisara does just that.

I know the world critiques it for its inauthenticity, but who cares? This is entertainment and we go to cinemas not to learn about history.

If you are that curious about Bimbisara, you would look him up in a book or move to the history channel.

You would not want to go to Kalyanram’s movie to seek authenticity. You go there to have fun!

(Vichitrakar is a filmmaker who expresses his passion for movies through his reviews. He likes to keep a low profile. Hence the pseudonym.)