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Netflix reveals plans for a Baahubali prequel series

The Lord of the Rings of India gets a new incarnation from the streaming giant

Baahubali 2 - woman holds up a baby Arka Media Works
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

Any fan of fantasy, musical, action or superhero cinema needs to carve out time for the Baahubali franchise. The two existing feature films — Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion — are like a Biblical epic by way of Marvel Studios, with a little Hamlet and Step Up thrown in for good measure. Over nearly six hours, they follow a hunky dude named Sivudu as he discovers his heritage and overthrows his evil uncle to reclaim his kingdom’s throne. American blockbusters have lessons to learn from the pair of extravagant Tollywood spectacles, which each went on, in 2015 and 2017, respectively, to become the biggest Indian releases of all time.

If you live in the states, you can find both Baahubali films on Netflix. And soon they’ll be joined by a brand-new, original prequel series.

On Thursday, Netflix announced a two-season order for a Baahubali streaming series, the first season of which will be based on author Anand Neelakantan’s prequel novel, The Rise of Sivagami. As described in the press release:

This (prequel) series captures Queen Sivagami’s journey from a rebellious and vengeful girl to a wise and unequalled queen. Power, politics and intrigue find themselves juxtaposed against the rise of Mahishmati — from being a city-state to an empire. This is the rich backdrop and drama where the Baahubali franchise is set. The series promises to build on the incredible narrative style of the franchise — including its high production values, spectacular visuals and connective-epic story-telling.

“The world of Baahubali is extensive and immersive with strong characters and larger than life kingdoms,” said S.S. Rajamouli in the announcement. “The films Baahubali: The Beginning and The Conclusion, are from one story set in this world and more dramatic stories were broadly conceived while building the universe. The Baahubali series, a prequel to the films, is one such story. I am very excited that this is being adapted as a Netflix Original Series. With Netflix as our partner, we have the opportunity to create a rich and riveting series and take this quintessential Indian epic to the world, which is very gratifying to me as a story-teller.”

The original Baahubali movies starred award-winning actor Prabhas in the title role. He’s not expected to return for the series, as the book follows a younger version of actress Ramya Krishnan’s Sivagami. No cast members were announced in the initial reveal of the series, nor is there a release date, but Netflix was kind enough to cut a “trailer” for the series, strung together from movie footage. If you’ve never experienced either Baahubali film, this is a taste.