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What garbage is this? There are no non-Hindu elements in the movie and is outrageously Hindu in character, characters coming out of an Amar Chitra Katha comic, hero always better than heroine, support for Jallikattu and finally, a verdict that the movie is a box office flop, the verdict, broken as the article was being written yesterday. This shows more of jealousy or a piece commissioned by an opponent to deride the movie. Only that there is no factor of jealousy or an opponent makes one wonder of the mental faculties of the author.
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is a failure of the imagination
Baahubali, the first part of SS Rajamouli’s two-part epic, was set mostly in the fictional kingdom of Mahishmati. However, it began in another kingdom, at the base of a waterfall that made Victoria Falls look like squirt. Against this landscape, an impressively bulked-up Prabhas lost his shirt within the first few minutes of the film, which is always a plus.
Then, he slammed a metal rod at the base of a massive Shiva lingam (much to the horror of a bystander sadhu) and hoisted said lingam on his shoulders. It was a Freudian wet dream — partly because there was a waterfall and a phallic object, partly because all this was being done to please a mother, but mostly because here was an epitome of masculine strength establishing himself as a hero by literally dismantling an order set in stone.
In that moment, we saw a clever combination of reverence and irreverence. While this virile young man thought nothing of uprooting the Shiva lingam, he showed respect in the way he handled it. The same could be said of the story Rajamouli told in Baahubali. The classic formulae were all there, but Rajamouli shook things up a little. His characters weren’t identifiable as photocopied versions of Hindu mythical figures even though they looked and acted like they’d stepped out of an Amar Chitra Katha comic. There were twists in the tale that ranged from perhaps the most inventive use of tent material in a battle to Kattappa (Sathya Raj) admitting to having killed the heroic prince. There was computer-generated imagery that boasted of a kind of sophistication unseen in India both in terms of its execution but also in the sense of the expansive scope of Rajamouli’s imagination and the details he’d worked out of this fictional world. In short, Baahubali was a film that extended hope — that we can build a new set of legends and heroes.
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is here to dash those hopes and that too with a story that moves at the slow-dripping pace of Chinese water torture. Young Mahendra Baahubali (Prabhas) finds out about his mother Devasena and father’s love story and then heads to Mahishmati because, hell, why not? Could he and his long-suffering mother leave Mahishmati to just rot in Bhallaldeva’s (Rana Daggubatti’s) arrogant and dictatorial grip? Of course, they could. They could even go back to Devasena’s (Anushka Shetty) home in the northern kingdom of Kuntal and organise a proper rebellion against Mahishmati. Devasena was once a good warrior, so she could give her son a lesson or two. Or her son could just work at his career as a temporary mehendi and makeover artist, with Avanthika (Tamannah) as an example of his skills. But no. Instead, Mahendra Baahubali’s bright idea is to attack the well-armed Mahishmati with his snarls, Kattappa and a few thousand scythe-wielding farmers.
In stark contrast to Baahubali, this sequel is a patchwork of existing stories. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is deeply committed to being a crowd pleaser and so, in tune with the current mood of the nation, takes religion (specifically the Hindu identity of its characters) very seriously. Instead of the fictitious goddess of the first film, this time we have odes to Krishna, for example. Religious rituals are of enormous importance to the plot and it’s worth noting that there is not a single non-Hindu culture in this film.
Baahubali 2 also borrows heavily from existing films. The ladders that the Uruk-hai used in Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers, as well as the idea of unleashing a river to vanquish foes (remember Isengard?), are neatly copied. Amarendra definitely has a little bit of Legolas in him. The catapulting idea from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is seen here.
Whereas Baahubali held out the promise of creating a new, homespun fictional world, Baahubali 2 is a film that wouldn’t have its key moments of spectacle without Hollywood blockbusters. That’s a shame.
Elements from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, like the exiled prince and the disguised warrior who wins the princess’ heart, are sprinkled all over Baahubali 2. With every inch that the sluggish plot progresses, the film becomes a little more predictable and a lot more boring. The only two interesting characters in series are Sivagami (Ramya) and Devasena. Both of them look gorgeous and are promising initially. However, they are quickly reduced to one-note parodies that milk the idea of a woman being arrogant rather than strong. They’re made to doubt themselves and cut down to size by deceitful men. Why? Because otherwise, they’re taking the attention and agency away from the male heroes and villains. Speaking of sacrificed women characters, poor Avanthika, despite being a powerful warrior, has nothing to do and literally not a single dialogue in this sequel.
It also becomes obvious very early on in the film that there isn’t even an internal logic to this story. For instance, when an elephant suddenly goes mad and goes on a rampage, threatening Sivagami, the camera suddenly swings to the bolted door of a large shed. The bolt quivers and then finally breaks. Why? Because Amarendra Baahubali has broken them doors and is dragging out a massive chariot, which he will use to tame this mad elephant. The question is: what the hell was the young crown prince doing in a locked shed? When he got inside, why didn’t he just leave the door open? What if the elephant hadn’t gone mad? It’s all very strange.
The cherry on this cake of nonsense is the little whoop in favour of jallikattu that Rajamouli includes in the film. We’re shown men chasing bulls by the tail, and this is presented to us as a scene of idyllic, pastoral bliss. Later, bulls with their horns set aflame — how’s that for loving humane treatment? — are unleashed upon an army because them bulls be brothers to the human soldiers. It’s another matter that following the logic of the scene, the bulls were probably drowned. If they weren’t underwater, then they were stuck with burning horns.
Holding Baahubali 2 together are the cinematography, the stunts, the spectacular special effects and the good looks of its leading actors. Prabhas is very easy on the eye as Amarendra and it’s always a pleasure to watch Ramya and Shetty. The general expectation seems to be that the sight of any of these actors, smouldering into the camera, is meant to distract the viewer from noticing the half-baked and frustrating storyline. It’s almost as though Rajamouli was hoping Ramya’s angry eyes will scare everyone into not spotting the problems. There are enough moments of insanity, visual effects and slow-motion fight moves to make people clap and whoop, but the box office returns won’t take away from the fact that Baahubali 2 is a disappointment. From its script to its key action sequences, it’s either inept or borrowed from elsewhere. The last thing one expected from Rajamouli was a failure of the imagination, but, sadly, that is the conclusion we have to draw from Baahubali 2.
Well, he didn’t know about the true colours of Jaipur…It is the only Rajputana kingdom which never rebelled against the Muslims and voluntarily surrendered whenever there is a change in gaurd.
Written c. November 1682.
[After five long sentences of traditional eulogy]
Shri Shambhu Raja craves your friendship and after enquiring about your welfare communicates to your highness his own words in this letter.
We have received your communication and understand your object to mean that no opposition should be offered to the Emperor of Delhi, but that his suzerainty should be accepted.
Thereafter you came to know how your son Krishna Singh met his ruin for having intrigued with Sultan Akbar; and after full consideration of the political situation you again wrote to us in laudable terms that we acted rightly in offering shelter in our dominion to Sultan Akbar, that you approved the course we followed and that as we are Hindus, you signified your readiness to execute whatever was considered expedient in the circumstances.
If such indeed is your real intention, then you yourself ought to take the lead in this affair. The present wicked Emperor believes that we Hindus have all become effeminate and that we have lost all regard for our religion. Such an attitude on the part of the Emperor we cannot any longer endure. We can not put up with any thing derogatory to our character as Kshatriyas. The Vedas and the codes enjoin certain injunctions of religion and caste, which we cannot allow to be trampled under foot, nor can we neglect own duty as kings to our subjects. We are prepared to sacrifice every thing, our treasure, our land, our forts, in waging war against this satanic Emperor. With this firm resolution we have for these two years extended our hospitality to Akbar and Durgadas, We have killed many a brave captain of the Emperor, imprisoned several, released some after exacting ransom, and some out of compassion; several effected their escape by offering bribes. In this way the imperial commanders have proved themselves utterly incompetent. The moment has now arrived when the Emperor himself can be captured and made prisoner with, the result that we can rebuild our temples and restore our religious practices. We strongly assure you that we have resolved to execute all this in the near future.
But we are in comparison with you young and inexperienced. We have seen and heard so much about your valour and your zeal for religion. You at present fully possess the seven arms of kingship, so that if you muster courage and co-operate with us in the task of annihilating the power of this Emperor, what may not be accomplished ! When we ponder on this situation, we feel extremely surprised to find that you keep yourself so quiet and so unmindful of your religion.
There is another point. You and we have well observed what sort of a man Durjan Singh Hada is and what wealth he possessed. But he sacrificed his wealth and relying on his own personal valour created such a havoc at our instigation, as you being so near must have fully learned about. We from our side are doing our best. We are planning to despatch Akbar and Durgadas into Gujarat, so that you on your side must courageously execute whatever is possible. Shah Abbas of Persia has signified his willingness to support the cause of Akbar; but it does not in our opinion behove us to accept Muslim help in this cause and enable Abbas to gain the credit. Was it not your own revered father Jay Singh who gained the honour of helping Aurangzib to capture the throne of Delhi? You can now follow the same example and obtain the same credit by helping Akbar (to the throne). If he becomes the Emperor of Delhi with the help of the Muslims of Persia, they will gain predominance. It is necessary to prevent such a contingency. If you and we join our forces and place Akbar on the throne, we shall get the opportunity of protecting our religion and on your part you will shed lustre on the house of Jay Singh.
My ministers Kavi-kalash and Janardan Pandit are writing to you separately at length. You will also learn all the details personally from (our deputed agent) Pratap Singh and from the trusted spies who will meet you. Please write constantly about your own welfare. What more is there for us to write, when we are sure you comprehend all matters so intelligently?
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad : (Bihar: General) : Mr. President, Sir, there are six amendments standing in my name. I would like to move only one, amendment No. 192, List V, Eighth week. Sir, I move:
“That in amendment No. 130 of List IV (Eighth Week), for the proposed clause (1) of article 1, the following be Substituted :
“‘I am opposed to the incorporation of the words ‘Union’ and ‘States’ in our Constitution. There was a bitter and prolonged controversy in the United States of America on the question of the constitutional status of the constituent units.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam : (Madras: General) : On a point of order, Sir, we have already passed the Constitution defining the constitution of the States. Therefore, we cannot change the Constitution by a definition.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad : It is only here, I submit, Sir, that this point could have been raised. The use of the word ‘States’ for the first time occurs in article I of the Constitution. This fundamental question could have been raised only in this clause.
Mr. President: As a matter of fact, the whole of the Constitution has been based on the assumption that there will be separate States, and that those States will constitute the Union. Now, you want to go back on that and say that there are no separate States, it is too late now, I think.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad: I object to the use of the word ‘Union’. Both these words are inter-related and integrated.
Shri S. Nagappa : (Madras: General) : What is the word objected to?
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad: Have patience. Please permit the Chair to regulate the proceedings of the House.
There was a prolonged and bitter controversy in the United States of America on the question of the constitutional status of the constituent units. It ultimately led to a bloody civil war.
Mr. President : We have, as a matter of fact, fixed the status of the Units in the articles which we have already passed. Whatever status, the States have, has already been fixed.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad : The use of the word ‘Union’ further aggravates the malady. I will confine myself to the use of the word ‘Union’.
It ended in a bloody civil war. Having due regard to the lessons of American Constitutional history, I submit that the word ‘Union’ should be deleted from the Draft Constitution of India. We have not accepted the use of the word ‘Union’ anywhere in the Constitution.
Mr. President : I think you mean that the use of the word State’ should be omitted.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad: No, Sir. The word ‘Union’ should not be used.
The Honourable Shri K. Santhanam: We have got the ‘Union List’ which we have already passed.
Dr. P. S. Deshmukh: (C. P.,& Berar: General) : The statement is wrong that we have not used the word ‘Union’.
Mr. President: We have used the word ‘Union’ in so many places in the Constitution. I think it is really too late to re-open that question.
Shri R. K. Sidhva: (C. P. & Berar: General) : We have got the Union List.
Shri Brajeshwar Prasad : We have never discussed the heading of List I. We began with entry No. 1.
Mr. President: The word ‘Union’ occurs in so many places in the articles. I think it is too late now. You cannot move this amendment.
(Amendments 190, 191, 193, 194, 195 and 196 were not moved.)