I must be from another planet because I honestly feel that Baahubali is over-hyped. The film is crafted with passion (like Avatar) and the special effects are outstanding. The filmmaker is adventurous. But what I don’t understand is how do intelligent people miss patriarchal overtones in the film? If you want a different take on the film, I strongly suggest you to read this (click) article to understand the film from a feminist point of view. What’s interesting to me is that the so-called liberal and free-thinking critics who criticize Bollywood films for objectifying women don’t have any problem with this film. Deepanjana Pal of FirstPost and writers from Scroll, who are courageous and outspoken have rated this film highly and that seems like a bias (of course, I understand that no human being is completely unbiased and perfect).
As the person in the article wrote, Baahubali is masculinity porn. It is a universe where women play second fiddle to men. The director is clever: he tries to show that everything is happening because of women but actually, everything is happening FOR men..or rather, A MAN (BAAHUBALI, of course). I was initially fascinated with the character of Avantika, who happens to be a female warrior. But the director shows women ‘their’ place, eventually. In a critical scene, Baahubali says that the woman belongs to ‘him’ (i.e. she is his property) and that pretty much sums up the way women are treated in the film. Actually no: everybody kneels in front of Baahubali as he is equal to God. THAT sums up everything. Almost all the dialogues and almost all scenes (except some scenes that have breathtaking visuals) in the film look like CAPS LOCK ON: loud, over the top and ridiculous. Consider this: You are a female warrior with years of training. You have dedicated your life for a purpose. You realize that somebody is stalking you. After some investigation, you meet your stalker for the first time. You are asking him the reason why he is stalking you. You are trying to fight him like a warrior. And suddenly, this person disrobes you, gives you a makeover and you just fall in love with him (in like a minute)! From then on, you are not really a warrior anymore because obviously, if you continue to have a free mind and have your own purpose in life, you won’t be able to serve men: which is what women are supposed to do.
I have no problem with women who choose to give up their career to take care of children or play a second fiddle to men as long as it is THEIR choice. Every woman doesn’t have to be ambitious or career oriented. That’s another form of oppression. But this film doesn’t give adequate reasons for the female lead’s sudden change of mind.
Watching this film reminded me of the way human beings think about other species in nature. We think that every living being on this planet is inferior to us. Other species are just there to serve us. Even scriptures (okay, not ALL scriptures) are written for men (not women). Some scriptures even insult animals. We have abused our power so much that we will someday become powerless. Ironically, the ‘hero’ in this film ensures that even the powerless live. But all along, you feel as if his ‘fight’ for the powerless is just to make them dependent on him. A true leader is someone who creates more leaders. A narcissist creates more followers because he doesn’t want to give away his power. Is Baahubali a narcissist? Maybe yes, but you cannot just blame him or his director. The followers, who stroke the egos are equally responsible. Opening your mind to a possibility that you have power within you is scary because like Spiderman’s uncle says: with great power comes great responsibility. We want power. Who wants responsibility when you can earn 250 crores in a week?
P.S. By the way, am I the only one who found similarities between Baahubali and ‘The Shiva Trilogy’ by Amish? The lead character’s name is ‘Shiva’ and like Amish’s Shiva, the ‘outsider’ falls in love with a tough warrior? Rings any bells? Or am I thinking too much?