Friday, 12 May 2017

Bahubali 2: Reimagining Mahabharata

Rating: 7/10
Have you given into the enchanted spell of this movie? 

Do not be misguided by the title. The movie is not a ripoff of the epic. The movie manages to create and inhibit its own world of empire Mahishamati in a beautiful way. The director owns the place and its people!

As a culture, we Indians are still pretty much in awe of magnanimous heroes and epic stories. Although many of our writers and moviemakers are telling stories of flawed grey-shades protagonists, we still love these larger-than-life stories. Case in point, Bahubali The Conclusion.
Even though I am a major movie buff I had missed out on Bahubali despite its already obvious popularity. I tried watching the Tamil version on Youtube but couldn’t because of the language barrier. And if you are the non-conformist type who doesn’t watch mainstream cinema, even you might enjoy the movie.

Thoughts before watching the movie
What is infinitely clear is the grandiose vision of the movie what remains to be seen is the plot and the execution. And just because I don’t remain the only Indian who is not wondering “Why Did Katappa Kill Bahubali?” I watched the part one, it is available on Youtube.

Traces of Mahabharata in The Story

As the director SS Rajamouli has been quoted as saying that his vision of the movie came from various stories he read in books like Amar Chitra Katha or the stories from the Indian epics. Traces of it can be seen in the movie, especially from Mahabharata. 

Bahubali & Bhallaladeva as Duryodhana and Bhima

Anyone who has loved the Mahabharata has wondered about a few things, what would Mahabharata be like if Yudhishthir was not around to misguide (yes, I mean it) men like Arjuna and Bhima. People who think they are the cool rational type say, “Yes but he was persevering for the right path.” But I have always felt like what could have been simply resolved by a duel ultimately culminated into a national level war, because the epic informs us that all of the kingdoms from all over present day India supported one or the other side. So this movie explores that aspect perhaps. The sign of which are factors like the physical strength of Bahubali, or the fact that Bhallaladeva uses the mace. Why even in the scene where Mahendra Bahubali kills Bhallaladeva he attacks his thigh, as a nod to the duel between Duryodhana and Bhima. 

Sivagami as Gandhari

Another unique angle is of making Gandhari, here Sivagami, (played beautifully by Ramya Krishnan,) the mother of both the sons. In the epic Gandhari is never painted as clearly as a villain as say Duryodhana and Shakuni. She always seem to have a protective instinct towards the Pandavas. This movie puts to test that side of Gandhari. What would she do if she were at the helm of the affairs? And the director manages to tell her side affectionately and with a lot of heroism, and although she loves her son, she is not blinded by it. Unlike her husband, Bijalladeva, whose ambitions of being a king have remained unfulfilled and have been imposed and impressed upon his son, Bhallaladeva. (By the way, the voice of Bijalladeva is indeed that of the actor Nasser, it sounds the same like in his other movies, the actor must give a Hindi interview.) 

Katappa As Bhishmacharya 

One of the reason Mahabharata remains so popular is because it still remains so relevant. We have all met teachers like Dronacharya, we have good ministers like Manmohan Singh who remain loyal to the throne. We have all wondered what it would be like if Bhishma had decided to remain loyal to the rightful king instead of staying loyal to the throne. What kind of power would he have been able to yield not bound by the self made oath? If you have seen only the first part, you may be made to believe that Katappa is one such Bhishmacharya. Although he has not made any such vows, he suffers bad company because he has given up hope having killed Bahubali himself. 

And in the end, this formidable Katappa played by actor Satyaraj, lives a better fate than Bhishmachari and has some respite in the guilt that haunts him. Katappa is my favourite amongst all of the characters, he is a well rounded character with very human emotions yet he is driven by courage and principles. By the way, this is not the actor, Satyaraj’s Bollywood debut, you might remember having seen him in Chennai Express, playing Deepika’s father, Durgeshwara Azhagusundaram.

 A word of praise very deserving for Anushka Shetty’s Devasena who is the very likeable and courageous mother, and wife of Bahubali, who challenges authority, right and left like Draupadi.

So go ahead watch Bahubali for the resplendent scenes, of stories of heroism, of prodigal children and courageous mothers.

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