I am a sucker for period films. More so, when the film is backed up by a good storyline, with strong female characters spewed all over. Somehow life got me busy and I got the chance to see the movie, Bahubali, only last weekend (I know shame on me 🙁 ). And..it blew my mind. Let me rephrase that, it blew my feminist mind.
Some people called it a sexist film, and my guess is they were only looking at how men were portrayed in the film. Me, I was going gaga over the women characters sketched! Agreed, the “stripping-without-her-consent” scene was nonsensical and degrading in every sense. I only wish they had deleted that scene entirely and replaced it with one, where she becomes aware of how attractive her boldness looked on her. That would have been the icing on the cake. But..they didn’t. I really can’t imagine what the director had in mind when he thought out the scene. Whatever it was, it failed. Miserably.
Nevertheless, I am willing to skip that scene, and still call this a feminist film because it breathed a new life to women in movies. You must agree, the Bahubali women were not the stereotyped ones seen in a majority of films, who usually occupy the screen to dance, to fall in love or listen and agree to everything the male protagonists say. The women were all shown as brawny warriors, having a voice of their own, oozing power every minute they were on-screen.
I was amazed by every one of them that I couldn’t wait to dedicate a post to the bold female characters in the film. I only wish other films followed this trend. Anyway. Let’s see our strong women now –
1. To begin with, Sanga (Rohini) isn’t shown as the usual mother that Indian cinema has seen so far. She doesn’t shy away from showing her motherly love when needed, and also doesn’t shy away from exhibiting her brazen masculine side, when required. The fiery eyes she throws at her people when they ask her to give up Bahubali is bewitching. And the way she commands her people to close off the cave, would make one wonder whether she is the leader of the tribe!
2. Oh, and remember how Sanga unnerves her people, when she says never to speak about the cave again lest ‘she will clutch them by their throat and suck their life out of them’? It was something that could never be heard coming from a woman’s mouth, at least in movies. It was as if all “good” women were supposed to talk in a sweet or polite way every time, so I loved Sanga breaking that stereotyped good girl image right there!
3. And then comes Avantika (Tamanah). She is shown as a warrior, who is skilled enough to be chosen as the one to save DevaSena (Anushka). She fights, does somersaults, uses swords, bow and arrow and everything that a man-warrior uses. How delightful it is to see that in a movie!
4. Now our very own Sivagami or Ramya Krishnan. Every single scene of hers, screamed of feminism, that it’s a little hard to pick some to write about. Ok, let’s think about the opening scene for a minute. When I saw Sivagami walking with the child in her arms, I didn’t for a second imagine her to pull off an awesome fight scene where she skillfully kills off two soldiers right on top of the falls. That was way too cool for a movie mother character!
5. Then the scene where she ascends the throne. Shriek!!! (a literal scream here folks). I loved the way she bellows for Kattappa to take care of the bad guys. The way she slit the throat of that guy, silencing his laughs and the way the blood fell on her face, reminded me of a scene from the movie Amman (Tamil and Telugu guys would know this movie). Bad comparison, but still, she brought goosebumps to me with her forceful demeanor of a mighty ruler! When was the last time we have seen a movie where a kingdom was shown to be ruled by a woman?! Goosebumps again! Brrr!
6. And yes, the breast-feeding scene. Was saving the best for the last. Could there ever be a scene that could top this? Movies so far have always shown nursing as an act done behind the curtains, in the confines of own’s home, and within their bedroom, if I may add. This was so far portrayed in movies as something one should feel shy about. And here was Sivagami in a period film, breaking all stigma of nursing women in Indian cinema, when she sits so regally on her throne, breast-feeding not one, but two babies, with a coverup, in front of hundreds of her men…right after slitting someone’s throat. How mind-blowing was that..! I would like to applaud Rajamouli and Vijayendra Prasad just for thinking of this scene.
7. Let’s simmer down a bit now, and think about how her character doesn’t follow anyone’s advice blindly, (even if it’s her husband) while making decisions. She is shown as a true leader in every sense.
So yeah. It was indeed refreshing to watch a movie which broke stereotyped characters of women, and brought out their powerful souls to show to the world. It was brilliant and inspirational. I only hope the second part does justice to the first.
And nope..I don’t know why Kattappa killed Bahubali either 😉