Bahubali 2 Full Detailed Summary Part 3: Enter Anushka!

Happy Wednesday!  By the way, this is your Tuesday Telugu post (one day late) as well.  It was going to be Enthiran/Robot which suddenly popped up on Netflix streaming.  But Bahubali 2 is taking up all my time, so you are going to have to wait another week before I write that up. (part 1 here, part 2 here)

I think I have managed to crawl about 20 minutes into the movie.  Which is shockingly fast for my usual pace with these posts.  I think because I’ve only seen the movie once.  So this is just my kind of medium well version of in depth analysis.  If you want to see me go really hard core, check out the DDLJ posts.  Those were so in depth that they wore me out and I had to take a break.

Right, so, movie opened, we saw Ramya do the every-26-years ceremony for the daughter-in-law of the family, and then Prabhas happily celebrate with the people.  While Rana seeths and lets other people talk treason around him.  Ramya tries to make up for making Prabhas king over Rana by giving Rana a bunch of gifts, which he turns down.  Ramya orders Prabhas to go on a tour of the kingdom and he immediately agrees, against his own better judgement.  While he is gone, Ramya starts looking for his bride.

And now we have Prabhas touring the kingdom!  He sees Muslims, he sees random group with odd turbans, and he sees some brave cowherds chasing behind their cows.  And a water wheel.  It’s a really pretty song section.  And it picks up on my final point from the last post, how this movie is beginning to show what was just hinted at in the last one, that Mahishmati is not the happiest place in the world, even in the “good” times.

 

The world that Prabhas is seeing on his tour is so beautiful.  So clean and fresh and happy and free.  And we see Prabhas be slightly more clean and fresh and happy and free in this world as well.  There is a moment in the song, when he rides his horse past a water mill, that is cut with a shot of Anushka in the trailer.  As if he sees her in the distance as he rides and is struck by her beauty and happiness and love.

(One minute in)

But, he doesn’t see Anushka in that moment.  He just sees sunshine and growing things and happy people.  And yet his reaction is as though he has seen the woman he loves.  Because seeing a place so untouched and perfect is as amazing to him as falling in love.  Because Mahishmati is never that perfect and untouched and happy.

Although, there are advantages to the security of tyranny.  This rural idyll ends suddenly when Prabhas bends down to take a drink from a stream, and suddenly seas a dead man’s face looking up at him from under the water.  And the camera pulls back to reveal a fascinating picture.  Gorgeous clear blue water, bright green fields, and in the middle of it, dozens of floating dead bodies.  And Kattappa explains to Prabhas that these are the victims of the Pindaris, who send raiding bands and kill for sport.  In Mahishmati, this kind of pointless cruelty wouldn’t occur, because the cruelty always has some kind of a point.

Little research trip time, Who are the Pindaris?  Well, firstly, they are the group that Salman was part of in Veer!!!!  Only Veer was dealing with more historical reality which allowed for a complicated view of them.  Whereas this is more the fairy tale view, with good guys and bad guys.

(Yes, this is the historically accurate version)

The historical Pindaris were a band of mercenaries.  They began as Mughal soldiers, but after the empire broke up, they ended up moving down to Marathi territory.  Where the government looked the other way as they spread out and raided into British territory.  Until the British cracked down on them in 1819.  Veer represents a fairly interesting view of the historical Pindaris.  Suggesting that they weren’t just raiders, but were fighting against British tyranny.  This film essentially just borrowed the name “Pindari” for a raiding band of semi-trained soldiers and has nothing else to do with the historical version.  Which is an interesting way of building their fictional universe, taking a “real” reference that the audience would be familiar with and putting it in this fantastical setting.

We go from the floating bodies to Prabhas and Kattappa resting at a well nearby.  They see a procession arrive, a bunch of men striding around with a palanquin carried in the center in which you can see the outline of a female figure.  Prabhas is interested enough to come a little closer, and is brushed aside by Subbaraju.  Kattappa and Prabhas kind of joke at Subbaraju’s overly manly posture, how he is a “hero”.  And then the Pindaris attack!  Prabhas and Kattappa almost make a move, but then the bandits are met and efficiently dispatched with by the guards around the palanquin.  And Kattappa points out they were trained soldiers in disguise, setting a trap.

Prabhas turns to look at the palanquin, but it is empty!  And there is a great shot of not just the empty palanquin, but the curtain in front of it being dragged away.  And then a gorgeous intro for Anushka, the white curtain fluttering in front of her, beating back her attackers.  And then a sword cutting through from behind it, slitting the fabric and revealing Anushka’s eyes, at the same time that it stabs out at an attacker and kills him.  Another cut shows her lips.  And finally, the curtain is thrown away entirely, and Anushka is revealed in full, hair flying, sword out, determined face and bright clothes.

Image result for anushka bahubali 2

(See the sliced curtain fluttering away behind her?)

So much to unpack here!  Before we even get to Prabhas’ reaction to Anushka.  Firstly, the curtain!  Forget the amazing image of her face slicing through from behind.  She is literally using the social veil brought on by her gender as a weapon!  And also figuratively using it, the “trap” had a poisoned bait, by bringing a woman with them, they appeared to be a peaceable travelers, vulnerable.  And she is turning every bit of that to her advantage.

All without losing her essential femininity.  She still had long hair in this scene, and colorful clothes.  She is not like Tamannah, having cut herself off from all joy and beauty in order to be a warrior.  She is instead the female version of Prabhas.  A serious warrior, but also a whole person who still enjoys life.

And that is incredibly rare for a female character!  She is actually fighting, not like “dance fighting” or something, the way women fighters sometimes do.  No, she has a broad stance and strong arm movements and is dominating the scene, not just being “graceful”.  Her long hair and fancy clothes aren’t pointless (can I say again how much I HATE Deepika’s long trailing hair in all her fight scenes in Bajirao?), they were part of the trap set for the bandits.  But she doesn’t wear them as though they are unfamiliar to her, this isn’t a “in costume as a woman” kind of thing.  And we see her dressed similarly throughout the film (although in other fighting situations, she ties her hair back).  Bright colors and pretty clothes don’t mean you aren’t a serious warrior as well.

On the second watch, I started to notice how Prabhas’ reaction parallels his son’s in the same situation.  I love Prabhas’ reaction, he was intrigued by the figure in the palanquin at first, as anyone would be.  But it was only when he saw her fighting, strong and powerful and brave, that his mouth fell open and he stared and kept staring.  But that’s the same thing Prabhas 2 does with Tamannah!  Sure, in their love song he turns her from “strong warrior woman” to the pale-skinned beauty of his fantasy.  But, he likes the strong warrior woman too!  The first time he sees her in real life, she is running from armed men.  He runs to help her, but before he can catch up, she has set off her own ambush and defended herself.  And Prabhas’ reaction is to watch and say “Oh Shiva!” (or words to that equivalent, I can’t remember).  He isn’t turned off, if anything he is more interested.  A lot more interested, like “oh God, what an amazing woman!  How am I ever going to win her?” interested.  And everything else he learns about her just makes him more determined.  Killing a dozen men in armed combat?  Hot!  Killing a prisoner after interrogation?  Super hot!  Being part of a dedicated armed band that swears eternal dedication only to their cause? Not “hot”, but not exactly a turn-off, more an obstacle he has to overcome in order to get her attention.

Image result for tamanna bahubali 2 warrior

(This is what I mean about a female warrior who has turned herself into a total warrior and lost any other kind of identity or joy)

Now is as good a time as any to talk about gender roles in Bahubali-land.  I think they are a lot more fluid, especially in the Kuntala Kingdom, than they appeared in the first film.  Yes, this whole trap relied on the bandits assuming that a group traveling with a woman would be vulnerable.  But that’s because they thought it was the kind of woman who wanted to travel in a veiled palanquin.  In the same way that Prabhas and Kattappa thought that Subbaraju was a “hero” because of his posture and his sword.  But during the battle, Anushka revealed herself as the real hero, and Subbaraju as the one to be protected.  If they had traveled with Anushka striding along next to the other men, and Subbaraju hiding in the back, like their personalities would normally suggest, I don’t think it would have been that unusual in this society.  Some men are heroes with swords and some women need to be protected in palanquins.  But not all of them.  Just as, in Mahishmati, Nassar is kind of a joke and Ramya is accepted as a fearsome ruler.  And the only people who have a problem with this are people like Nassar, people the film presents as stunted and ignorant and backward people.

The next sequence would be my favorite in the whole film, if it weren’t for all the other sequences that are my favorite.  It’s funny and touching and exciting all at the same time.  Basically, Rajamouli “Pehla Nasha”s a fight scene.

(“Pehla Nasha”, Farah Khan’s break out hit.  She sped up the music during filming and slowed down the action later, so the end result was a dreamy slo-mo sequence which still synched to the sound.)

Prabhas and Kattappa are standing still watching the fight, which Anushka and her band of warriors seem to have under control, when they hear something and both turn to go into the surrounding forest.  Where they find more bandits lying (laying? in wait).  And we get to see Prabhas and Kattappa fight as a team, which is super fun, watching them toss swords back and forth to each other and toss each other around as well.  But in the middle, a bandit’s flying scarf reminds Prabhas of Anushka’s hair, and suddenly he goes into slow motion.  He is still fighting, but it’s all kind of dreamy and slow.  The contrast with Kattappa’s hysterical cries for help makes it funny.  But the soft green and brown tones, the graceful movements, the perfect editing to show the audience those little visions of Anushka he is remembering, that makes it beautiful.  Oh, and it’s also a pretty decent fight scene!  Lots of flying around and kicking and punching and all that.

Okay, I’m going to end here, but there will be a second post going up later today.  Because I still feel bad about missing yesterday, even though I had a very good reason.

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11 thoughts on “Bahubali 2 Full Detailed Summary Part 3: Enter Anushka!

  1. Yay for two posts in a day! (Although missing a loved one is always a good reason not to post. As is watching the movie again!) But, moving on:
    – Wait, about the water mill, since you remember the movie better than I ( though I’m planning on watching it again as soon as possible), I remember Prabhas builds one in Dandalayya, too – is it similar to that, in that we’re supposed to think that’s another that’s where he got the idea? If so, I’m even more amazed at how much random throwaway stuff got put in the background only to come back later.
    – The mention of the Pindaris was actually what broke my suspension of reality for a second, just like the random Muslim city did for you! Thanks for my osmosis of Veer’s songs, I always had the idea that the Pindaris were only around in the Victorian Era (or the 1930s, if you go by that one song. Or the Wild West, if you go by that other song.) So having them show up in this quasi-ancient setting was jarring, but I think you’re right in that the name was used so people would have a quick idea that these are bad people, bandits but also part of a community (to explain why so many of them show up in the later attack), and the audience can just move on and not be bogged down in backstory.
    – There is so much I find interesting about Anushka’s entry! I mean, love at first sight is a tried-and-true Indian cinema cliche, and most of the time comes off horribly unrealistic when you think about. Usually we don’t see that the hero really knows anything about her other than her beauty to fuel the obsession/stalkery behavior that almost always follows (and we’ve discussed this before, vis a vis Rana), but it’s a remarkably efficient scene to sell both Anushka as a powerful, competent figure and Prabhas’ feelings for her. The only other love-at-first-sight scene that sells it as efficiently to me is Suriya/Aamir meeting Asin in Ghajini (either version), when she figures out a way to get the kids across the street and he realizes she’s kind and clever, not just beautiful.
    – I wholeheartedly agree about the fact that Anushka always has her hair in the equivalent of a ponytail (even in this scene, I’d say it’s more pulled back than she wears it in say, the lullaby song or Hamsa Naava) or even a bun – plus she always drapes her saree dhoti-style in the scenes where she knows she’s going to be in a fight. It’s even something you don’t see in Hollywood, where all of these hardened assassins/warriors are somehow not being strangled or blinded by their hair as they fight. (Bleh about Deepika’s loose hair [in a battlefield! while shooting a fiery arrow!] and fighting skills – or lack thereof, she literally had two scenes that and was it, and needed to actively be rescued in both of them* – in Bajirao Mastani. I loved the movie for the visuals, but only liked Priyanka’s character and walked out actively hating the other two for being so stupid and selfish.)
    *You could make the argument Anushka does in Baahubali as well, but I’m willing to give her older self a pass. Her younger self, OTOH, doesn’t come across as needing rescue as much as splitting up enemies to take out with Prabhas – even during the big battle scene, I understood Anushka to still be fighting off invaders down below when Prabhas was running up the dam. Plus Deepika straight-up faints into Ranveer’s arms at the end of both fight scenes.
    – That is true about Prabhas 2! And I guess even after the love song, Tamannah goes back to her usual warrior clothes (and stays in them even up until the end of this movie) and hair (she also has very practical hair to fight in! Also appreciated.) I also think the theme of “it’s okay to enjoy being a girl. You don’t have to be a killing machine 24/7 to be worthwhile!” is an important one, where worth isn’t only measured by traditionally masculine qualities. I just wish it didn’t come across so creepy, even Prabhas 2’s appreciation for her fighting ability comes across so patronizing in the scene where they fight.
    – Yes about the fluid gender roles, too, but I would argue that Kunthala is probably better about this than Mahishmati? Mahishmati, pre-Ramya, is horribly sexist as seen in the scene where she takes power, and while we see that people are fine with Ramya being in charge, I wonder if that isn’t largely due to Ramya’s force of personality only – it sure changed back fast under Rana. But I think we are supposed to look at Kunthala as this place that balances male and female power – not only Anushka balancing both her warrior and princess aspects, but the fact that the King and Queen are shown sitting together in court, that Subbaraju lives in the palace and is treated as a prince even though he’s only the Queen’s brother suggesting that instead of an old-fashioned “wife comes to husband’s house,” the King and Queen have combined their two families.
    – I think the “Pehla Nasha” scene (I love this description, and I am keeping it forever) is delightful. And honestly, it’s maybe the only (?) scene where we don’t see Prabhas use some fancy clever trick when he fights, to the point where he seems to be ignoring Kattappa’s cries for help up until the last minute. But at the same time, it doesn’t make him incompetent – he still calculates out when to send the tree down – in contrast to the rebel leader’s warning that love/emotions make you weak (but I think that comes into play the most in the archery battle scene, so I’ll save it until then!)

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    • -It’s not closely related, but yes, I think the tying together of the water wheel with the structures he builds later is on purpose. Prabhas is growing and changing in ways he doesn’t even realize through out this film. And that’s why it feels so tragic, because all his learning and growing was cut off before it could flourish.

      -Veer is such an interesting movie! Because so much of the colonialism theory is on point for the history, Macaulyism and how what the British see as “rebels” or “bandits” could be freedom fighters through another lens. And then there’s a random Janet Gaynor poster breaking up the accuracy of the sets and all kinds of other errors. Now that I think about it, the script is fine, it’s just the costumers and props and everything else that went wrong. Strange, considering the same director made Gadar, and all the historical clothes and so on in that film were spot on.

      -Now that you point it out, I feel like there have been similar “love at first sight” moments that worked for me, and I am trying to remember what they are. Normally at this point, I would just glance over at my DVD shelf to see what films I might mean, only all my DVDs are in boxes so I can’t do that. I can think of kind of the reverse, movies like DDLJ and Chennai Express and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai that clearly showed the difference between “attraction at first sight” and love, with the hero starting to flirt and spark right away, but having a moment much later where he really really learned to love her.

      -Dips in Bajirao was like the classic example of the “strong female character”, the one who is presented as being this fearsome fighter and so on, but in the narrative ends up not really doing much of anything. And then Anushka in this is the opposite. There is minimal dialogue about her being “different” or “brave” or any of those things. Instead, we actually see it happen.

      -Another thing to add to the pile of “scenes that should have been in Bahubali 2”, would be a scene showing Prabhas and Tamanna interacting as fellow warriors, the way Anushka and Prabhas 1 do in the battle scene. It would clarify that he wasn’t patronizing her in their fight scene, he was delighting in her abilities. And now that he needs those abilities, instead of trying to break through them so he could court her, he has no problem with her getting serious again.

      -Oh definitely Kunthala is more fluid! And the forest people seem more fluid as well. Prabhas’ adoptive Mom clearly runs everything, and everyone respects her. We don’t see any other women in that section, but we don’t really see anyone, just his Mom and Dad and the priest. So I think we can assume that gender is fluid there too. Possibly why Prabhas is so accepting of Tamanna’s strength. And then we are back to the “Mahishmati SUCKS!” theory.

      -Ooo, that’s interesting! Looking at it as the only time that Prabhas doesn’t bother with fancy moves in a fight. I think you could say that usually he isn’t just fighting for his life, he is enjoying his battles. But this time, with love on his mind, he just wants to get it over with as fast as possible.

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      • – Yes, exactly. And it’s interesting: when I finished the first movie, I wasn’t all that sad that Prabhas 1 was dead. Not that it wasn’t unfair, and not that we hadn’t gotten to know him (we saw that montage of him growing up, and the flashback battle was way more memorable than the present day battle in this one), but because he was such a larger-than-life hero that I couldn’t relate to him. But in this one, even though he’s still super strong and an awesome fighter, he’s also a young man who’s only just coming into his own in terms of his worldview and understanding of his world. The loss of that, and what a better place it would have made Mahishmati, is much sadder to me than say, the loss of this super-strong protector that was sold to me in the first film.
        – OK, I might need to check Veer out, then! The promos made it seem ridiculous, but I would love to see a movie that addressed the attitudes of British colonialism even if it’s cloaked in cheerful anachronism!
        – Now that you name so many, I feel kind of ashamed, as though I’m implying all movies have love at first sight and nothing else (they don’t! And the examples you gave are really good examples of ones that don’t!) But say, in Rudramadevi, which we mentioned earlier, or 24 (which otherwise is charming, but Suriya is introducing Samantha to his mother as his future bride on the second day they meet!) or Saathiya to name a few that didn’t work for me, it just falls flat in a way that it didn’t here.
        – Yes, another example of Rajamouli being better than Bhansali at show, don’t tell! (But not always great. Mithravinda in Magadheera gets talked up as a warrior too and does basically nothing.)
        – Ooh, I would have loved that! It would even not have to be a long scene, just have a shot Anushka look over at them practicing together before the big battle and smile nostalgically, maybe remembering herself fighting along Prabhas 1, and you’ve taken care of the complaint that they all just head straight into battle without any preparation, plus you work in Anushka and Prabhas 2 interacting, and Tanannah/Prabhas 2, too! (And Prabhas 1/Anushka if they actually threw in a flashback)
        – Bouncing off that point some more: can you imagine Baahubali 2 without the hallway archery scene? To me, it would definitely come across as something similar with Prabhas always getting the better of his love interest and coming across as similarly condescending. By which I mean to say: thank you (and moimeme!) for helping me to reassess the Prabhas 2/Tamannah romance to find I was maybe a little too hard on it. (I’m still not a fan, but now I think it could have been redeemable with a bit of effort.)
        – I think the thought behind the comparatively boring fight is supposed to be :”oh look, Prabhas is so awesome he can fight off all these men with only 25% of his attention” but I am also tickled by the fact that he just wants it over ASAP so he can go gawk at Anushka some more 🙂 !

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        • -exactly! I was thinking about it, and I think going into this film we all thought we were going to see how Prabhas 2 died. But instead, most of the time we were watching how he lived. And that’s what made it sad.

          -Oh, it’s still ridiculous! But if you ignore the costumes and the sets and the action sequences, then there’s some interesting ideas in there.

          -Don’t feel ashamed! You just got me thinking about it. And I think you are right, it’s about 70% falling in love at first sight for no reason, 15% falling in attraction and then in love later, and 15% like this, where they fall in love at first sight but for recognizable reasons.

          -I always felt like Rajamouli just didn’t have enough time in Magadheera. The present day section was forced on him and he had to cut down the past section and use some shortcuts. I also really feel like the past romance was short-changed. Hopefully Raabta does a better job!

          -i was picturing more like, in the middle of the battle scene, Tamannah suggest something to him, and he builds on her idea, and then they like throw weapons to each other or something. But your idea is better! With adding Anushka into it.

          -Yes, I see exactly what you mean! As we see it in the end, we see that Prabhas is a better fighter than Anushka, that’s just a fact, but it’s not why he likes her. He doesn’t want to humiliate her or patronize her, he is just teasing her a little. And he wants her to be better, not stay worse than him. In fact, if she improved to be his equal, or even his superior, I think Prabhas 1 would be delighted.

          -I like the idea of him just wanting to get it over with and get back to what is really important!

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  2. I, too, was immediately struck by the fact that father and son fall in love in the same way with the same kind of woman. 🙂

    When Shivudu and Avanthika are fighting, I don’t see Shivudu as patronizing at all. Just that he didn’t want to fight Avanthika (he wants to woo her), so he kept his moves to purely defensive ones, so that she doesn’t hurt him.

    It’s pretty sad when you have to cite Veer as historical authority! 🙂 Because its historical accuracy was all over the place. And yaay for noticing that its script was all right, it was the costumes and props that went haywire, mainly because they could never make up their mind what time period the story was actually set in.

    But here in Bahubali, using the Pindari name was as anachronistic as suddenly having crowds of Muslims show up. In many ways (these are two examples) BB2 felt like a surprisingly “rushed” movie, while part 1 took so much care (except for the Sudeep character, again being Muslim) where every detail was thought about and fit in perfectly. Aside from the time issue, the Pindari never got as far south as the Telugu speaking areas, although I guess I shouldn’t assume Mahishmathi was in a Telugu speaking area, since the story is also simultaneously taking place in a Hindi-speaking area, thanks to dubbing. 🙂

    I’m bothered by the haste with which you are landing on the “Mahishmati was a really crappy place” bandwagon. I think the point of part 2 isn’t to show that it was never great, but to show how a great kingdom decayed and was destroyed because its rulers strayed from the path of dharma — and that’s a constant theme through all the puranas, which are what inspired Rajamouli.

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    • What I find striking about how the two films fit together is that the first one shows us Mahishmati is this grand perfect place in the past. But then the second film starts showing us all the ways it isn’t perfect, which makes it a much deeper story. It’s the same thing as all the characters, in the first one they seemed like one-dimensional set characters, the queen mother and the jealous prince and so on. But then in this one we start to see that they are a lot more layered than that. I mean, they are still a Queen Mother and a Jealous Prince, but there is a lot more going on under the surface. And in the same way, Mahishmati is this grand kingdom that seems like the typical perfect magical city from legend. Only this film starts to question that, to give us little hints that Mahishmati was a great city, but even a great city has weaknesses in it.

      On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 8:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Pingback: Bonus Speculative Post: The Scenes That Are Missing From Bahubali 2 – dontcallitbollywood

  4. Pingback: Bahubali 2 Scene by Scene Detailed Analysis: Part 4! Anushka and Prabhas’ Unique Romance – dontcallitbollywood

  5. Pingback: Bahubali 2 Detailed Summary (SPOILERS): Part 5, The Love Triangle Begins! – dontcallitbollywood

  6. Pingback: Bahubali 2 Detailed Scene by Scene Summary Part 6: Most Romantic Battle Scene Ever – dontcallitbollywood

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