Saturday, July 18

3 things you didn't notice in Bāhubali: The Beginning

So, I have finally watched the most expensive film ever made in India, Bāhubali, in Telugu. Since I had the chance to watch it on the largest IMAX screen in India at Prasad's, I happened to look at the "bigger picture" and observed a lot of things which for those who watched in silly theaters could go over the top of their heads. 

Here are some of those, starting from the most shocking ones:

1. Sivudu may be hallucinating the entire plot

To those who forgot the names of characters due to the overshadowing war episode, Sivudu, whose birth-name is Mahendra Bāhubali, is the son-Prabhas who, obviously, is the son of the father-Prabhas, Amarendra Bāhubali. The father-Prabhas is again, not so obviously, the son of a grandfather-Prabhas, Dharmendra Bāhubali (The name was to appeal to Hindi audience). The confusing part here is that all the 3 roles are played by the same actor, Prabhas. However, we can distinguish them by their body weights: son-Prabhas is leaner than father-Prabhas, and grandfather-Prabhas is only seen in a painting (at least for now).

Sivudu, with both his nostrils expanded to their fullest capacity

Now that you are reminded of who Sivudu is, you should also be reminded that he is a very naughty boy: He wants to see the world beyond the waterfall bordering his village. The catch here is that, he cannot climb up the waterfall (or can he?). So, he tries to climb a slippery rock hill on one side of the waterfall, and jump across the breadth of the waterfall, to land on the rock hill on the other side, and then climb over to wonderland. 

But, we see in the introduction scene that he cannot make the jump, and falls some 40 feet into the water. The reason for this is his lousy group of friends who are douchebags enough to discourage him, thereby stopping the plot from advancing.

However, to those of you who failed to see the "bigger picture", here's what I observed: Because of his 40-feet fall, Sivudu damages his skull, goes into psychosis, and starts hallucinating the entire plot. This idea can be illustrated by the following events that seem surreal, but subsequently unfold anyway:

  • Sivudu detaching a seemingly heavy Shiva linga, balancing it on his shoulders and head and planting it under the waterfall. 
Under normal circumstances, he would be killed by his tribe for hitting the idol with crowbars and insulting god. But since it's a hallucination, nothing of that sort happens.

  • Just when he finishes the above task, he sees a wooden mask falling from the waterfall. 
Come on, what are the chances that you happen to find wooden masks dropping from the sky when you go visit a waterfall, after you carry a Shiva linga on your head, unless you are chewing magic mushrooms?

  • He sticks this suspicious wooden mask into sand, and Tamanna's bust (head, not breasts you pervert) comes up. 
Too bad, Spiderman is an idiot trying to keep his identity a secret. If someone gets hold of his mask, they can go to beach, take a sunbath, and in the return trip get Toby Maguire arrested. Oh sorry, Toby Maguire is not Spiderman anymore, it is that guy who got screwed by Zuckerberg in the facebook movie.

  • He 'actually' starts hallucinating Tamanna (what was her character name again? Oh yes, Avantika) and her dance moves. 
Now, this is where Rajamouli gives you his Nolan-esque touch: putting clues in scenes so that you can decipher the "bigger picture", just in the way I did.

  • Sivudu finally manages to jump across the waterfall looking at the imaginary Avantika. 
This happens in the hallucination which Rajamouli shows you, which happens inside the actual hallucination that Rajamouli doesn't show you, but leaves clues in the hallucination he shows you, to decipher what's really going on. 

The key thing to note here is Sivudu's pose while jumping: it's a Superman-style flying pose. And, I remember another film other than Superman, where such pose is shown: The Big Lebowski where 'the Dude' dreams after being hit on the head.

That was some lovely lively dream, man!

See? That's Rajamouli again with a Nolan-esque touch: giving you another clue as to tell you what's actually happening. You didn't notice that, did you?

And lastly,

  • Sivudu manages to pull off the least-cost path algorithm of seducing a woman
I think he did this with the inspiration of K Raghavendra Rao BA. This is why you should do a BA, so that you can also come up with such techniques and change the world.

Coming to seduction, another thing I observed in the film is that:

2. Female comrades wear sexy lingerie inside

I understand that Sivudu became a make-up man for Avantika, but he didn't become the costume designer, i.e., he didn't make her lingerie out of leaves and twigs. So, it follows that she was wearing it from before. Why? There may be 2 reasons:

  • Her masked revolutionary group prescribes sexy lingerie as part of uniform to all its members.
Why? Probably because when you become horny and want to have sex with your comrade in a dense forest in the middle of the revolution, the least your group can provide is some sexy lingerie and a chance for role-playing.

If this were true, then this would also be one of the hidden clues Rajamouli puts in the film for us to decipher and expand our understanding of revolutionary groups. He certainly did a lot of research while writing the script.

The other reason could be

  • When someone rips her sleeves and armor off, washes her, applies make up, and finally strips her down to the undies, she wants to look pretty, and not turn-off the guy. This is for the greater good: To advance the plot.
But then, why would Avantika think in such a way, unless she is either recruited as a femme fatale or is a closeted nymphomaniac? I would favor the former.

Avantika, before joining the revolutionary group

However, speaking of Avantika being mental,

3. Almost every character in the film suffers from a Psychological disorder

Now, I am not pulling off some Freudian psychoanalysis shit where every aspect of your behavior has got to do with either your genitals or your mother. My idea is that, if you pull any of the characters in this film out from the screen to the real world and take them to a psychiatrist, they have a good chance of being diagnosed with a clinical psychological disorder.

Here are some:

  • Sivudu: Hallucinations
He may also be eating magic mushrooms for all we know. You can't deny their supply where he comes from.

  • Devasena: Sadistic personality disorder
Boy, she really wants to see Bhallaladeva getting tortured real bad and being severed, and wishes to dump him on the funeral pyre herself. She even meticulously picks up twigs and tree branches and prepares it for 25 years.

  • Sivagami: Delusional disorder
Well, she has unusual faith in her lactating capacity. Even mothers with twins find it difficult to produce enough milk for both. She is also humorless and sensitive, and shows a taste for unusual sadistic revenge when the barbarian threatens rape.

  • Kattappa: Stockholm syndrome
He doesn't want to get out of slavery, and he is actually sympathetic towards his captors.

  • Avantika: Borderline personality disorder
She shows all its classic symptoms: Impulsiveness, unstable behavior, idealization and devaluation of others. We may get more information in the second part.

  • Bhallaladeva: Antisocial personality disorder, aka, Psychopathy
Symptoms: Cruelty towards animals, disregard and violation of others' rights, lack of remorse, false charisma

  • Bijjaladeva: Sexual frustration
Now, this is open for interpretation. This fellow has a wife who is busy with ruling the kingdom and lactating for 2 kids. His right-hand always holds a wine glass, and his left-hand is useless, so he can't have one off the wrist. Also taking into consideration his appearance without a shirt and with a walrus mustache, he is the prime candidate for a sexually frustrated old guy.

Bijjaladeva, showing both his hands and the walrus mustache. He is wearing clothes to appear less creepy
    And finally,

    • The headless dude who walks for a mile: Cougar fetish (preferably with bondage)
    Well, this cannot be classified as a psychological disorder, but I think it's worth mentioning.

    • All the soldiers guarding Devasena: Selective blindness disorder
    Come on, what were they doing when a prisoner is suspiciously collecting twigs and branches and pooling them together for 25 years? Are they thinking she's doing her part for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan?


    Since Rajamouli is a genius, I think he wanted to put a sane character, Bāhubali (the 2 of them) into a world of nutcases, including his foster-mother/grandmother and wife/mother, and see how these characters take the plot forward. If he were not a genius, we can say that all he can think of are blandness and clichés from films of the 70s while writing characters and doing character development.

    In conclusion, I think some of these observations can be more evident in the second part of the film, which I am expecting to contain another ample dose of character development and plot advancement in the most astonishing way, with Rajamouli dropping us more clues and Easter eggs to provide insights into revolutionary groups and psychological disorders.

    PS: This piece is only about the bad writing of the film touted to be the pride of Telugu/Indian cinema. I liked the war sequence in the film, and I wish Rajamouli chops off junk like the above in his second part and in the international cuts. No one wants to go through half of the film with scenes establishing clichéd characters in the most annoying way.