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Baahubali and the noise in our hearts

Suman Chhabria-Addepalli
1st May 2017
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All those who managed to watch 'Baahubali 2' this weekend, may have already patted away their goosebumps, caused by the grandeur of Rajamouli's marvellous-opus. I have nothing to add in terms of a review.

Nor do I connect with naysayers who shout out on sponsored 24-hour news channels, about the associations of this cinematic effort with Hindu culture. I also do not endorse their allusions to the ‘uselessness’ of the film.

This film has created probably a million more jobs, curiosity and reverence for Indian cinema and culture, than ‘useful’ films have. But that’s another story for another day.

Like each person, who has paid a fortune of their time and money to queue up for both movies, I am stunned and deeply saddened by the killing of Amarendra Baahubali.

Even though I knew it was going to happen. I kept looking for the moral credential effect (do good, receive good), and in the end, all will be ok.

In spite of seeing the movie twice on day one; in spite of being acclimatised to the violence – I couldn’t bear to watch the scene of Baahubali’s murder when it happened.

If the first movie gets credit for gripping the nation with its depiction of the unconditional love felt by the courageous, wise and affectionate queen of Mahishmati for her beloved orphan-nephew; the second movie does a splendid job of connecting the dots strewn all over the canvass of part one, brilliantly depicting how cool Mahendra Baahubali’s biological parents are.

The entry of the gorgeous and talented Devasena, and the short time she gets with her beloved, is not quite as gripping as the connection depicted between mother and her favourite son in both parts.

Even more tyrannical is ‘how’ the extraordinarily strong, ‘beloved mama,’ ‘the loyal slave warrior’ Kattappa displays his protest only through words, and chooses to kill an adorable man, using obeisance as rationalization.

My mind has been justifying (for the last three years) that the plot was conjured simply for cinematic entertainment.

But my heart pounds with these questions:

How different was totally talented and sinister Bhallaladeva’s bottomless jealously for his cousin, from rightful siblings who split into bitter-bits, corporations and dreams built over lifetimes by their parents?

How dissimilar was our larger-than-life hero Baahubali, from the many children who deal with biased parents. Who are able to win unconditional love everywhere they go, except from those who are (apparently) closest to them?

How unusual was the marriage of the much-loved-king-to-be, Amarendra Baahubali and his warrior-princess Devasena, from inter-racial/caste marriages today, where previously adoring parents declare ‘My way or the highway’ to their ‘desperate-for-acceptance’ children?

And, how unrelated is the rapport between forthright Devasena and the great Rajmata Sivagami, from newly married daughters and mothers-in-law today? After being in the company of three males for her entire lifetime, Sivagami could have loved and welcomed her like a mother. But all she did was cut through their collective wisdom, and regard Devasena as a threat to her ‘etched-in-stone,’ ego-filled decisions.

Baahubali Part 1 and 2 is nothing but a tale-as-old-as-time, set in a place as mythical as can be, of the beauty and the beast within all of us.

I will probably remind my children of this story, when someone betrays their implicit trust. If Amarendra Baahubali can be knifed in the back, no one who has walked this planet is an exception.

But then, nobody has been.

Therein, lies the connect between the movie and each one of us. And a connect like this can only translate into box office numbers which are as mind-boggling as human relationships.

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