Happened to watch Baahubali today to see its portrayal as a magnum opus. Disappointed as it is one more film reflecting much more heavily the present day media and market promotion of the stereotypical heavy muscled masculine body and a thin fair skinned feminine one through Prabhas, Rana and Tamanna. Though Tamanna (roles as Avanthika) impresses with her valiant personality at an entry stance but later submits to the one who glorifies and exploits her femininity. Instead of equally working on chasing her goal as promised to her group leader, she allows Prabhas (Shivayya, hero of the film) to chase the goal for her laying herself into a dependent status. Anoushka Shetty (Devasena), always tied up with chains with no role to play other than waiting for her son to free her picturises stereotype of mother’s dependency on son though Satya Raj (Kattappa) assures to free her. Ramya Krishna (Shivagaami), though portrayed with leadership skills and scope to rule but her role has been limited to ‘loyal rearing role’ giving way to her sons competing to throne, presents one more form of the film makers’ visualization of stereotypical woman’s role ignoring the fact that many queens had heroic rule and won laurels across the history.
The film reinforces established stereotypes of women (heroines) in fair skin and men of brown n rough resembling their masculinity. Able body sits in the head of film makers as it’s unilaterally assumed that disabled person (Naazar) cannot rule the vast kingdom. On the other hand, disability of having one eye for the tribal king is picturized symbolizing cruelty and villanish. The convergence of stereo types of gender, race and ‘able body ‘ is more clear portraying the dark skin and pot belly to focus it as the ‘other’ ie the ‘enemy’.
Time and again though Shivagaami presumes to be upholding rajaneethi, it’s surprising to know that no principle of any Rajaneethi supports the way in which heavy bodied heroes are on chariots and horses are unevenly pitted against a bare foot army. Moreover the manner of usage of animals work is against fair animal treatment. It’s disheartening to view the vulnerability of animals with camera in its close shots raise many ethical questions on their treatment and peoples’ sensitivity watching their subjection. Heavy violence presented by red bloodshed and beheading the prince walking headless and showing it for at least a minute or two shatters even a cold heart.
The language and diction of the two heroes does not have any semblance with the epic times but is colloquial of the present day. Actors like late NTR, late SVR n present Kaikala Satyanarayana, Mohan babu, Krishnam Raju‘s presence was highly felt.. Ramya Krishna’s and Satya Raj’s roles are appealing and only plus point of the film.
Regarding technical superiority, if we look into any of the epic films based on Ramayana or Mahabharata or on Jesus Christ like Lava kusha, Maya bazaar, Paataala Bhairavi, Karunamayudu or films in Hindi on medieval times like Mughal e azam, Rustum Soharab etc to name a few are equally or far more superior and holistic in their 360 degree work out. Overall could not understand the focus of the film as what does Rajamouli want to show other than the bodies of two men. There is no focus other than glamorising the social stereotypes paving way to the reinforcement at a higher level benchmarking perfect and able l body. The film highlights the caste, class and arrogance of muscle (with feudal benevolence and protectionism here and there) to the kids of this digital generation! The film and technicality would have been beneficial for all the heavy expectations it has put up if it had shown the dignity and historicity of righteous struggle in midst of changing social dynamics while depicting the fantasy! As it is time to redefine caste and class positions and reframe the social stance of gender and disability in the caste, class and cultural locations, a stronger story line would have been appreciated rather than exclusive focus on technicality and physical prowess of men. Wish film makers overcome these serious issues of social dissent while they come up with part 2 !