The biggest success in Indian cinema history – Tollywood’s Baahubali. It’s made more than 1000 crores (about 150 mil usd)
What I liked best about the movies, especially the second one, was that, overall, there were very little dialogues. You could watch it in a language you don’t understand and still get the story because it’s mostly shown through expressions and actions. Also, the background music was absolutely fantastic.
Getting to the point, the story is easy enough to understand. What needs to be discussed is the characters and why they were written the way they were. Rajamouli could have written them in any way but he didn’t.
Let’s start of with Sivagami, queen of Mahishmati.
She is highly capable and strong. That’s evident. The second movie also shows that even she can fall prey to human emotions. Sivagami doesn’t always fall, but when she does, it’s one hell of a fall. Like many, I really wasn’t convinced when Ballaladeva slowly started to brainwash her but when I saw it the second time, I realised that it was gradual. It all started when she was giving him gifts and he asked her if she was doing all of this only because she was giving Baahubali the throne and then told her that he, her son, wasn’t so weak as to feel bad for giving his little brother the throne. If you’ve watched the movie, you know how it plays out from here.
Ballaladeva’s father adds a bit of fuel to the fire too. Finally, she snaps when they tell her that Bahubali tried to kill her son. Her own son. They basically just shifted a small portion in her mind that said “My sons” to “My son” and “Baahubali”. Ingenious. I mean, he completely changed her behaviour towards Baahubali with such less effort.
The next best scene which features her is when she falls to Devasena’s feet after the whole thing and says “You understood Baahubali and rose to the skies while I, the one who raised him, was not able to understand him and killed him. Now I remain at your feet. I can do nothing more than go to heaven and wash his feet with my tears”. This further proves my point that didn’t actually “brainwash” her. They just shifted a small compartment in her mind. I assume it’s psychology and understanding how a person’s mind works.
Moving on, Katappa. Where do I begin? It took me a while to understand why he did what he did and I still don’t know if I’m right. So, let’s just consider this as a theory. Baahubali says “As long as you’re by my side, the man who might kill me is not born yet”. And it is this comment that makes Katappa decide that he should kill him. Why? (Hint: Baahubali already told us) There is actually no one that can kill him because he is just that good at what he does. The only way he can be killed is by someone he trusts and he definitely trusts Katappa. The character of Katappa is something known to all of us who have watched the movies. Loyal (somewhat servile?), strong, humorous, compassionate (Closely resembling the perfect hero? But that’s up to you to decide).
Now, Amarendra Baahubali. Strong, passionate, refined, royal, loyal, arrogant. “Wait, he isn’t arrogant!” ? Remember that scene from the first movie where he says “After I’m crowned king, I will declare you as the Supreme General” to Ballaladeva? Yeah, well…….
He knew he was the younger kid, nobody knew who would be crowned king, Sivagami had declared that they both had equal rights to the throne, he knew that Sivagami favoured him. Now, if you tell me that Baahubali didn’t have the capacity to become a villain, you’re wrong…but, I suppose our choices make us who we are. (Now, you might ask, did Ballaladeva choose to be like that? I’ll get to it later)
He fell in love with Devasena when he saw her fight and the rest is history. Not very important except for one fact, he was sure,in fact, extremely confident that he would win over Devasena’s heart. Confidence is an important part of his character. So is his confidence in others. That they will do the right thing. (confidence in his mother, in katappa, in his brother). Look where that landed him. His story is just sad and incredible at the same time, I don’t even know what to say but I think I’ve said enough.
Devasena. Perfect. Strong, intelligent, does not blow things out of proportion, believes in doing the right thing, no matter what the consequences may be. Sure, her character kinda chips off after she’s imprisoned but hey, wouldn’t yours if you were, for 25 years, the prisoner of the dude who killed your husband and tried to kill your child? Now, some geniuses are asking why, this ever capable warrior didn’t take it upon herself to avenge Baahubali’s death. Well, firstly, she didn’t have the energy to escape. She’s just given birth to a baby. That’s enough physical and emotional stress. She also had to deal with the shock of her husband dying. I mean, do you understand? She herself realised that she wouldn’t be able to escape and she told Sivagami to go. I really like how they chose to play her character out. They were given a chance and they used it to the full capacity. She is perfect.
Avanthika. Now, I don’t consider Avanthika important at all. I see her more of a stepping stone for Shivudu (Mahendra) to reach his goal. That might also be why she’s very objectified.
I might be over thinking it and Rajamouli might’ve just done so because he wanted to but guys, this is just a theory. Go crazy.
Shivudu aka Mahendra Baahubali. Did any of you notice how I referred to him as Shivudu and not as Mahendra Baahubali? If you did, then you might have a clue as to what I’m about to say. If you didn’t, here’s what –
He isn’t really refined royalty. He’s much more raw and real. He’s Shivudu first and then Baahubali. He is so much more than just a prince of a kingdom. I think that he’ll be excellent king since he knows how his father fell and we’ve seen that he learns quite fast. I expect that he’ll be strong, passionate and cunning. He’s like a Prince of the Woods or something like that.
And finally, the character with the most intelligence and patience – Ballaladeva. Villains are always relatable. If you remember the song “Mammatala Talli”, you’ll see that he always had this want for power. We can see that when he’s first given a sword – he wastes no time in unsheathing it and testing it out. He’s always been jealous of the attention Baahubali received. Jealousy, intelligence and patience. A marvellous combination. Not to mention, he’s quite sadistic. Overall, a really good villain. I loved it. Ballaladeva wasn’t stupid, he knew that killing Baahubali was immoral, according to the general public, but it was the only way to get rid of him. His father says “Baahubali will be a king wherever he goes. The only way to get rid of him is to kill him”. Ballaladeva chose that path. He knew the risks. He chose to be a villain.
The biggest tragedy of this story might be that Shivudu is always under the shadow of his father. Who does this remind us of? Ballaladeva. In my opinion, the only thing quite worthy of discussion in the third movie, if it is made, is – can Mahendra, or rather, Shivudu, rise above his father and create something unique to himself?
(If any of you haven’t watched it, you should. I mean, who doesn’t like physics defying stunts and good effects?)