Happy Friday! The Battle continues! I was thinking I would be done with my scene by scene posts by now, but I guess not. Maybe I can do another surge today, and then I can come back for the ending and final summary posts next week. We’ll see. (part 24 here, you can go back from there)
Previously: Everything happened! We got all the way to the final battle, Anushka was captured by Rana and taken back into the city, Prabhas 2 was initially driven back, but Kattappa encourage him to think like his father, and he came up with STUPIDEST IDEA EVER, to use palm trees as catapults and send groups of fighters with linked arms up onto the top of the wall, starting with Prabhas 2 and Kattappa.
Everything begins to be a big confusing in this section. Kattappa and Prabhas 2 split up as more little soldier bullets rain down around them and split up and start fighting too. Kattappa ends up fighting near where Nassar is hiding. Nassar speaks to him, reminds him of his loyal service, puts his hand on his shoulder and directs him to look at Prabhas 2 fighting, his back exposed, Kattappa could end this threat just like he ended the last one, and redeem the honor of his ancestors by obeying orders. Kattappa grabs his sword, and then turns and uses the handle to strike Nassar, declaring that he doesn’t have to follow him, because Ramya had declared Prabhas 2 as heir before she died, now Kattappa can follow Prabhas 2.
Well, this is a fascinating exchange! First of all, of course, NASSAR!!! WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD YET??? This is something I find myself saying every 2 minutes for the rest of the film. He’s just so horrible! I think I want bad things to happen to him even more than to Rana.
(Just die already!!!!)
Secondly, the way Nassar is so sure of Kattappa’s loyalty, it should seem stupid, only we in the audience have that moment of doubt as well. He is standing there listening, Nassar has his hand on his shoulder, in an echo of the way Rana used a hand on Nassar’s shoulder to control him so long ago. And when he turns to look at Prabhas 2, his hand on his sword, for a moment it seems like he really will attack. Kattappa is such a complex character, we can believe that he will feel the chains of slavery tighten again, even in the midst of battle, and be turned.
Golem! That’s who he reminds me of, Golem from Lord of the Rings. You can learn to trust him, he can seem to grow as a person, but always there is that threat lurking below the surface that you can’t be sure about. The characters trust him more than the audience. But that is his redemption, that illogical and foolish faith from others strengthens his goodness, and helps him to throw the bad out.
Which is why Kattappa throws off Nassar’s hand and raises his sword against him, instead of against Prabhas 2. Well, sort of. In the last section, I talked about how, as I saw it, Kattappa was finally “free” after he killed Prabhas 1, free because he had been so broken that he had lost even his strength to obey. He was “chained” again when Ramya gave him something to believe in, gave him back his will. Only after helping her, he was lost, with the will back that kept him alive, but with that came his unrelenting awareness of his duty to serve. For 25 years, that will was slowly weakened, until he found the loosest possible way to use it as an excuse to rescue Anushka, to fight against his bonds. And when Prabhas 2 appeared, he rushed forward to follow him without thought.
It’s only now that Kattappa has to think again. And yes, the more satisfying answer would be for him to throw off Nassar and just say that he won’t kill Prabhas 2 because he doesn’t want to and it would be wrong. But that would mean Kattappa isn’t choosing a new leader, a new person to follow, it is all anarchy. Kind of interesting that the audience at this point in the film has come to crave anarchy, to want everyone to follow their own hearts. But if Kattappa were to do that, it would mean that Prabhas 2 is just another person. He has to re-affirm Prabhas’ authority and the justness of his rule, or else the entire film falls apart, the entire concept of the Prabhases being something slightly different, better, destined to rule. At least, that’s how I think some of the time, other of the time I think “Kattappa! KILL NASSAR!!!!”
Prabhas 2 and Kattappa are having their own individual battles here, but that’s not enough to win, that’s the whole lesson of this section. And so Kattappa reminds Prabhas 2 that have the army is trapped outside the gates. And Prabhas cries out “Grandfather! Send me a hammer!” and then takes off, sliding down the trunk of the huge stone elephant, spinning into the air, and snatching a massive hammer from thin air as Kattappa sends it to him. He lands on the chains holding up the bridge and uses the hammer to start beating on them.
Some interesting stuff. Once again, Prabhas 2 is using a manmade tool. But using it to destroy a manmade object. Even more interesting, he is using his own strength in manual labor. Hitting something with a hammer isn’t the same as stabbing someone with a sword. This is the kind of thing Rana would never do, because it is beneath his dignity. And that Prabhas 1 was constantly doing, because he felt a duty to use his strength however it would help in the world. Oh, and also, pretty sure a lot of it is because they saw the Thor movies and thought it was cool how he would leap into the air and grab the hammer.
There’s also the idea that Prabhas 2 is serving his army, not the other way around. Rana cuts them down with his lawnmower chariot, Prabhas 2 risks his life to help them enter the city. No wonder we have a glimpse of some king’s guard people fighting for Prabhas 2 by the end of the battle.
(this guys, the ones with whips and orange-ish clothing)
And there is the fact that Prabhas 2 knows he needs to be reunited with his soldiers. I could almost see Prabhas 1 just fighting solo, not wanting to ask for help or acknowledge he needs help. Heck, that’s kind of what he did in the Pindari battle! And he only went back to rally the troops in the Kalakeya battle because they were tired and losing, not because he wanted them to come help him. But Prabhas 2 has no problem deciding that he needs more people to fight on his side, and doing what needs to be done to get them to him.
Everything moves very fast after this, we see Tamanna riding in at the head of the reinforcements, somehow they seem to just sweep through the city and end up in the central square, where two soldiers are trying to chain up Anushka again while Rana watches. For the choreography of this next section, it has to be like this, that Anushka and Rana are in slightly different areas. But it’s also interesting for Rana’s obsession. He doesn’t need her to be close, he doesn’t even need to touch her, he just needs for her to be under his control. His men holding her back are the same as his chains tying her down.
The other reason it has to be like this is so Prabhas 2 can quickly free Anushka and set her on her way before his big battle with Rana starts. He knocks off her chains, and then orders “Tamanah! Light the fire!” and Tamannah lights the pot of coals. It’s placed on Anushka’s head, and Prabhas 2 further calls out for the staff, and Kattappa pops up from under the water with a staff that is tossed to Anushka. And finally, Prabhas 2 orders her “Mother, start your journey” and she begins to walk around the courtyard, just as Ramya did 26 years earlier.
This is one of those moments that resolves a whole bunch of things very quickly. First, hey! Someone remembered Tamannah! I wish SO MUCH that she had gotten more scenes. But they did manage to break it down to the very bedrock of what the audience needs to see from her and put that in. She is in the battle scenes, leading the troops even. So she is still a warrior who can fight for and with Prabhas 2, their love scene didn’t permanently weaken her. And here, she is being asked to light the sacred fire, which is a pretty clear sign that she is part of the family now. And as Anushka does her circumambulation, Tamannah will be in charge of the group guarding her, again showing both her high level as a warrior and her position in the family. Sure, dialogue would have been nice too, like, anything besides “Shivu!” and “Stay close, guard the princess!”, but they did give us the bare minimum to resolve her character.
(She’s dirty and bruised and angry looking, so yay! Back to her old self, sex didn’t change everything)
Secondly, the staff in the water. It’s not just that Anushka and Ramya weren’t around so this ceremony was forgotten. The ceremonial staff had been tossed into the pond. Either Rana, in a fit of pique, had dumped it there because he wanted to get rid of any indication of female power, even ceremonial spiritual power. Or someone else (Kattappa?) had hidden it there for safe keeping hoping that this day would come. Either way it is an indication that the feminine has been under the surface, hidden, for 26 years. And finally, now, is bursting forth. Oh, and also various elements and water symbolism which I will get into in some big round up post at some point because there is so much of it, you can keep it to just one scene.
And then Nassar is STILL ALIVE!!! But I can see why they needed him alive for this sequence. Rana and Prabhas 2 are the active ones, fighting it out, but the forces that are driving them are Nassar and Anushka, their parents. Nassar is the epitome of all that is bad, and Anushka of all that is good. But they would never be matched in a straight-forward fight, because part of what is bad about Nassar is his unwillingness to do anything for himself, the way he lets others take charge and work for him while he cowardly sniffles and complains in the background. Anushka is the opposite of that, if it were a true battle, she would be on the frontlines while he hid in the background.
But it is not a true battle, a physical battle, it is a spiritual and mental one, and that is where Anushka and Nassar really meet. If Anushka finishes her 3 rounds, the priest warns Nassar that Prabhas 2 will never meet defeat. And so Nassar, from the background, sends his men forward to try to stop her.
Also, Priests! What’s up with that? This movie seems to have a strong sense that a priest is only as good as the person they serve. They are neutral, essentially, like a sword or any other tool. While Ramya and Anushka are spiritual forces for good during this ceremony, and Prabhas 2 gains much of his power from his direct connection to Shiva, the priests are more sort of there to facilitate the connection, not to guide it or use it in any way themselves. Basically, this film has a firm line of Kshatriya>Brahmin.
While Anushka and Nassar have their battle on the spiritual plain, with a priest to help Nassar, and Kattappa and Tamannah to help Anushka, Prabhas 2 and Rana finally confront each other. But that is too big of a thing to get into in this post, next post!