In the ancient Kingdom of Mahishmati in India, Sivagami, the queen (Ramya Krishnan), emerges from a cave adjoining a big waterfall, carrying a baby. She kills the soldiers pursuing her and sacrifices herself to save the baby. Local villagers spot the queen carrying the baby while almost drowning in the river and rescue the infant. The queen drowns after pointing towards the mountain above the waterfall. Sanga (Rohini) and her husband name the infant Shiva and raise him as their own son. They seal the cave fearing that someone may come to take away the child.
Shiva (Prabhas) grows up to be a well-built young man aspiring to hike the mountain and makes many unsuccessful attempts at it. It is revealed that he possesses unnatural strength. He then finds a mask of a girl which falls from the waterfall. Driven to find out the identity of the girl, he climbs the mountain again and succeeds this time.
On top of the waterfall, Shiva discovers that the mask belongs to Avanthika (Tamannaah), a rebellious warrior whose group has indulged in a guerrilla warfare against king Bhallala Deva / Pallvalathevan (Rana Daggubati) of Mahishmati Kingdom. The group intends to rescue their former queen Devasena (Anushka Shetty) who has been chained in the kingdom for the past 25 years. Avanthika is given the opportunity to rescue the queen.
Avanthika falls in love with Shiva after she finds out that he has climbed the waterfall for her. Shiva pledges to help her in her mission and sneaks into Mahishmati to rescue Devasena. Shiva rescues her and flees along with her but is chased down by the king’s Royal slave Kattappa (Sathyaraj), known for his great warrior abilities. After Shiva beheads Bhadra (Adivi Sesh), Bhalla Deva’s son, Kattappa drops his weapons on realizing that Shiva is Mahendra Baahubali, the son of late king Amarendra Baahubali.
A flashback reveals Amarendra Bahubali’s past. Amarendra’s mother died while giving him birth, while his father had died much before that. Sivagami takes charge of running the kingdom with Kattapa’s assistance until a new king is elected. Amarendra Bahubali and Bhallala Deva are brought up together, trained in all areas including arts, science, disguise, politics and warfare, but both of them have different approaches towards kingship. Amarendra Baahubali is liberal to everyone but Bhallala Deva is violent and achieves his goals with any means possible.
When a war is forced upon Mahishmati by the Kalakeyas, Sivagami promises that the new king will be the one who beheads the Kalakeya king and orders that the war resources be distributed equally between the two cousins. Bijjala deva (Nassar), Bhalla Deva’s father, uses his cunningness to make sure Bhalladeva gets the maximum war fare. When it seems that Mahishmati would end up being defeated, Amarendra inspires his soldiers to fight death and they end up crushing the enemy. Despite Bhalla Deva being the one to kill the Kalakeya king, Sivagami announces Amarendra Baahubali as the new emperor because of his nobility and leadership in the war.
After the flashback, when asked about Amarendra’s current whereabouts, a tearful Katappa reveals that the King is dead, and the killer is none other than Katappa.
I was about 7 years old when I started reading comics called Amar Chitra Katha that are published in India. They’re not about a superhero, but they encompass all the stories of India, the folklore, the mythology, everything. But most of these stories are about Indian historical figures. I was fascinated by the forts, the battles, the kings, I not only used to read those stories but I kept telling those stories to my friends in my own way.
— Rajamouli, on the inspiration for making Baahubali.
Main article: List of Baahubali characters
The following is the credited cast:
Prabhas as Amarendra Baahubali (father) and Mahendra Baahubali/Shivudu (son)
Rana Daggubati as Bhallaladeva (Telugu) / Palvaalthevan (Tamil)
Anushka Shetty as Devasena, Mahendra Baahubali’s biological mother
Tamannaah as Avanthika
Ramya Krishna as Sivagami
Sathyaraj as Kattappa
Nassar as Bijjaladeva (Telugu) / Pingaladeva (Tamil)
Rohini as Sanga
Meka Ramakrishna as leader of the rebel group
Tanikella Bharani as Swamiji
Adivi Sesh as Bhadrudu (Telugu) / Bhadra (Tamil)
Prabhakar as the Inkoshi, King of Kalkeyas
Sudeep as Aslam Khan
Madhu Sneha Upadhyay as dancer in grey blouse in song “Manohari”
Nora Fatehi as dancer in green blouse in song “Manohari”
Scarlett Mellish Wilson as dancer in orange blouse in song “Manohari”
S. S. Rajamouli as the spirit seller before the song Manohari