How ‘Bahubali – The Conclusion’ revives Hindu epics

This is the first time I’m attempting to write about a movie. This post is not a critique or a review of the movie, but offers a perspective, perhaps, only seen by some.

Bahubali – The Conclusion is one of the proudest examples of Indian talent. Whether we agree or not, the revenue collections that the movie is grossing from across the world are a testimony to this. While it has inspired conversations about bringing out the Southern, specifically, Telugu talent to the fore, created discussions on the special effects that are a visual delight or the strength of each characters portrayed by the respective actors, it is being talked about widely.

Another interesting element that I have observed (after watching the movie twice) is how it revives certain stories in the Hindu mythology for the younger generations. The story encompasses a mix of sub-stories and plots from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Hindu epics.

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For instance, the whole movie’s story has a base of Ramayana where the successor to the throne is assumed to be Amarendra Bahubali, the dearest son of Sivagami who is a great warrior, with good virtues, follows and abides by the Kshatriya Dharma just as Lord Rama in the Ramayana.

Similarly, Bhallala Deva, brother of Amarendra Bahubali, has been given shades and strength of the demon king, Ravana. Bhalla’s mass-slaughtering chariot that he uses while fighting against Mahendra Bahubali, son of Amarendra Bahubali, is the one inspired from Dhuryodhana’s in Mahabharata.

Rana

 

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Devasena, the princess of Kuntala Kingdom, has inferences to Mihitla’s princess, Sita (of Ramayana) while her captivity in Bhallala’s Mahishmati kingdom is seen as one from Mahabharata Draupadi’s vastraharan. However, the violation of Devasena’s modesty is different, keeping her in bondage with chains.

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Sivagami, who is Amarendra Bahubali’s and Bhallala’s mother, plays the role of Kaikeyi at one point while putting the reigns of Mahismati Kingdom in the hands of Bhallala, simultaneously asking Amarendra Bahubali to leave the Kingdom immediately. This is inspired from Rama’s departure to the forest, beginning 14 years of his Vanvaas.

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While Kattappa’s role can be understood to be that of Lakshmana’s, Kumara Varma’s character can be equated to that of Hanuman’s from the Ramayana. Meanwhile, the war strategies shown in the movie have been inspired from the Ramayana when Rama fights Ravana.

Bijjala Deva’s role has character traits of Shakuni (mama), the cunning maternal uncle of Dhuryodhana who is the mastermind behind the Kurukshetra war in Mahabharata.

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Similarly, the abandoning of Mahendra Bahubali as Sivagami dies and the infant being discovered by the tribals coincides with the story of Karna from the Mahabharata when Kunti gives birth to Karna, the son of Surya.

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The scene in which Bahubali puts his foot on Kattappa’s head is also adopted from the Ramayana. It is the story of Mahabali, narrated by Vishwamitra to Rama and Lakshmana. Vishwamitra narrates this story of Mahabali who seizes earth and heaven while Vishnu is meditating. All the gods on Earth and in heaven troubled by Mahabali’s encounters approach Vishnu and ask him to save the Earth. Vishnu then takes birth as a Brahmin boy with great knowledge and power, physically a dwarf. He visits Mahabali and praises him for his achievements. In response, Mahabali asks him to ask for a gift. While the dwarf constantly refuses, Mahabali prods. The dwarf then says: “Give me a piece of land. Not more than what would be measured in 3 strides of my feet.”

Bali laughs at the dwarf and then pours little water from a vessel on the dwarf’s palm, sealing his promise. As soon as the water falls on the dwarf’s hand, he transforms into a magnanimous figure (Vishnu) covering entire earth with his first step, the second steps covers the heaven, leaving no more space. That’s when Vishnu asks Bali, where do I put my third step? And, Bali kneels and responds, “Here on my head, if no other space is available.” That is when Lord Vishnu puts his foot on Bali’s head, marking an end to the sufferings of gods on Earth and in heaven. That is where this scene has been visualised from.

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2 thoughts on “How ‘Bahubali – The Conclusion’ revives Hindu epics

  1. Very true. Your post brought into conscious focus what I had been feeling all this while. I also felt that the story endorses and strengthens social (class based) stereotypes that are best forgotten in this day and age. Curious what you might think of that.

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