Bahubali Theme Post: Character Study, Sivagami

Welcome back to another Bahubali Theme Post!  Now that I’ve gone through the big themes I could think of (Dharma, Male and Female, the Elements), time to really dig in and look character by character.  And why not start where the films start, with Sivagami. (yes yes, I will use the character names for these posts, because it’s not about the finished film and the actor’s portrayal, so much as the characters conceived in the screenplay) (full index of all Bahubali posts, including this one, is here)

Someone in the comments for the other posts, probably Avani because she said all the smartest stuff, described Sivagami as a tragic hero, while Prabhas 1 was a hero tragic things happened to.  That is, Sivagami is a tragic hero in the classical sense, a perfect person with one great flaw which leads her to create her own doom.

Image result for sivagami

The question then is, what is Sivagami’s flaw?  Well, let’s look at her two introductions, the one at the very beginning of part 1, and the chronological one, back when Bahubali and Bhalla were babies.  The first thing that comes to mind is that they both involve Sivagami declaring something very loudly.  And both times, they are the right things.

At the beginning of part 1, Sivagami declares that baby Shivu must live, she gives orders to the God Shiva himself that he must save the baby.  And in her flashback introduction, she declares that she will not sit on the throne, that both babies have equal right to the throne and they will both be raised as heir, and then declares that she has spoken and her word is law.  Sivagami is really big on declarative sentences.

But, let’s look at everything that happened between those two statements.  And the different way they are phrased, and their different situations.  In the first scene, Sivagami is a young woman, this is possibly the first time she has aggressively taken power (remember, the king has just recently died, and Sivagami is only a member of the royal family by marriage).  Before she makes her statement, she has proved her power through the things that are around her.  Kattappa and other fighters she has paid off obey her, she is sitting on her throne as the daughter-in-law of royal family, she has the two heirs to the throne sitting on her lap, and she is nursing them, a reminder of her ultimate power to give life.  Sivagami is a fertility goddess, nestled in her temple, surrounded by worshipers.

Image result for fertility goddess

And then, 26 years later, she has been stripped of all of that.  She is in water and stone, in the wilderness.  She has no one to serve her.  She isn’t even a mother any more, she has become a grandmother, the baby is not cuddled and feeding at her breast, but crying and cold and hungry and she cannot comfort it.  All she has left is her inner steel, the determination and clarity of vision which drove her then is still driving her now.

But she still feels like she can tell people what to do!  That is her fatal flaw.  Sometimes she is right, sometimes she is wrong, but she is always so sure of herself.  She can’t seem to take a step back, once she has taken a step forward.  Which means, when her feet have been turned onto the wrong path, there is no turning back and getting on the right one.

I sympathize with Sivagami, I hate backtracking!  I routinely take much longer commutes because I can’t stand to take a train to a connecting train, even if it is faster, if it means I will have to go one station out of my way.  If I know where I want to go, I want to go there in a straight line, I don’t want to go back in order to go forward.

Image result for cta map

(See how all the trains go towards the center?  So to change lines you have to go all the way in and then out again.  Or you can take the bus which is a lot slower, but at least you don’t have to backtrack!)

And Sivagami has an added reason to keep going in a straight line.  Her only power comes from her strength of will.  She has no real right to the throne, no real right to make the decision as to the proper heir.  Even without being the official heir, her husband would be a more proper regent.  The nobles never elected her to any position, nor did the people.  She just paid off some fighters and then took the throne, and everyone agreed to it.  She has to keep moving forward, because to admit a mistake would be to admit that she might not deserve to rule, which would lead to a whole series of other questions that she can’t risk occurring.

But, right from the beginning, Sivagami is on the wrong line.  Not terribly wrong, but a little wrong.  She refuses to name an heir until the babies are grown.  A good plan, kind of.  It is asking for anarchy a little, to have no official heir named for at least 20 years.  But it would also be risky to flip a coin at this point and try to guess which will turn into the better person.  However, she could have said that she will name an heir at some unknown later date, why lock herself in to waiting until they are grown?  Or, alternatively, why not lock herself in more?  Give her some kind of deadline that the kingdom could count on instead of just waiting and waiting?

The end result is that this decision drags on and on, with both boys in limbo.  And Sivagami resists making the decision until it is almost forced upon her.  And, worse, the kingdom is weakened during this time period.  Now, Bahubali-land is definitely a strong proponent of tyrannical government.  “Tyrannical” not in a critical sense, but in a technical way, the form of government which is based on one strong central unquestioned ruler.  This is a good thing, for Bahubali-land, so long as you have the right leader.

When Sivagami started out, she was that strong central leader.  Answering questions with a knife cut, and making big declarations with nothing behind them besides personal charisma.  But something happened in the next 20 years.  We see her surrounded by advisors and sycophants.  Although she still is the main voice in decisions, it appears that the Priests, the Prime Minister, and various others, have voice in discussions too.  Not a good thing!  According to Bahubali-land theories.  And this is because Sivagami has put off her decision.  She has given up control, bit by bit, in order to keep her central place, instead of giving it up in one fell swoop by choosing an heir.  She has even started listening to her horrible husband.  Not a lot, but at least he is in the room and she isn’t completely ignoring him.

 

Going back to those two introductions, 26 years apart.  In the first one, Sivagami has nothing but her inner fire at the start, and by the end she has the throne, followers, and two sons.  But she got comfortable with that, comfortable having supporters around her.  She started to think she needed them, that she needed the laws and the rituals and the priests and everything else.

And that comfortable cushion, that is what leaves her open to be maneuvered onto the wrong path.  Her greatest moment of triumphs are when her back is to the wall and she has nothing left.  When she takes the throne, when she saves baby Shivu, and earlier, when she leads Mahishmati to victory in an impossible to win battle.  It is the easy times that destroy her, not the hard ones.  She needs a reminder that her inner sense is her surest guide, she needs to have everything but that inner sense taken away from her.

She also needs to learn that not everyone has the same inner sense in the same way that she does.  Sivagami is always aggressively strong.  All those declarative sentences!  But Bahubali doesn’t have to be like that.  He carries his strength differently.  Listening instead of talking.  Waiting for someone else to act before he acts himself.  Sivagami mistakes all of this for weakness, instead of a different kind of strength.

And, with her on strength muffled under layers of protections, Sivagami is slowly eased onto the wrong path.  Her internal compass is confused by emotions of wife and mother, by advisors telling him to consider the laws and the needs of the kingdom.  And, once set on that path, she has no way of going back.  It is not in her nature to admit a mistake.  When she finally does so, at the very end of the film, it almost breaks her.

So, her fatal flaw, and her greatest strength, is her confidence in her own judgements.  Her strength is turned into a flaw when her judgement is weakened and then bent in the wrong direction.  And her tragedy comes when she is made aware of her errors, and must admit her judgement was wrong, which destroys her essential sense of self.

 

 

So, what do you think?  Is this the tragic flaw or is it something else?  Or is there anything else you want to talk about or bring up with Sivagami?  This is the place!

Advertisements

35 thoughts on “Bahubali Theme Post: Character Study, Sivagami

  1. I think you have summed up Sivagami well. Just to add some points, her strength/power comes from, apart from all that you mentioned, the two babies/princes. We can see Sivagami starting to flounder when one of the prince (Baahu) goes against her (symbolically shown when Baahu leaves the side of Sivagami and takes on the position by the side of Devasena). Sivagami starts going into the wrong path from that point onwards. She is completely shattered when she realizes the other son (Bhalla) was against her (her ideals, her way of thinking).

    The other point is about the mother in Sivagami. It seems the mother-son bonding is more natural and warm between Baahu and Sivagami and a little less so in the case of Sivagami and Bhalla. The two scenes wherein she tries to give gifts to Bhalla and finds out about his so called love for Devasena, the mother in Sivagami seems a little stiff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point about her strength coming from her sons! Her greatest moments are when they are both with her, her initial declaration of inheritance, winning the Kalekaya war, declaring Bahubali the heir. And her weakness comes when they leave her. Not Bahubali, like she thinks, but Balla.

      It’s kind of an interesting idea, she can sense somehow that her power over her sons is drifting away, that she doesn’t have them firmly behind her any more. But her mind is being tricked, and she thinks it is the wrong son that has left her. Thinks that the son who is still saying the right things is the one that supports her. And then after Bahubali’s death, it’s not just grief, it’s the realization that she has no son any more, Balla left her a long time ago, and the son she was subconsciously relying on to feed her strength was the one she has just killed.

      On Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 11:54 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  2. Not as a character of Sivagami, but as an actress Ramya Krishnan, I want to appreciate her. She is one of the few actresses who could display Roudra rasam (anger) well and I can’t image Sridevi doing it. Anushka also displayed Roudra rasam very well in Arundhati.

    I liked Sivagami so much in the first movie and disliked her a lot in the second movie. That is a tribute to director to brilliantly show the downfall of a character.

    Like

    • I don’t think Sridevi would have worked as well either. I know there is a lot of talk about how she was the first choice and turned it down, or whatever, but I think that would have been a bad idea for a lot of reasons. For one thing, I don’t think she could have overcome her Sridevi persona enough in the minds of the audience to turn into the character. All of these actors were well-known and popular and so on and so on, but it seems like they were still just barely unknown enough to disappear into the characters for the audience. I couldn’t see Sridevi working as sivagami, or Rajnikanth as Kattappa, or Mahesh Babu as Bahubali. Besides all the other considerations, the audience just wouldn’t be able to believe it. This is also part of the reason, I think, that Asoka failed. Shahrukh’s persona was so set in stone at that point, it was just really hard to buy him as this historical figure.

      On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 2:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

    • I will I will! Keep reminding me. I’ve been looking, no luck so far on subtitles, but I am sure I will be able to find it somewhere.

      On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 5:10 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  3. Pingback: Bahubali Posts Index | dontcallitbollywood

  4. Hello! I’m back and sorry for going AWOL–RL issues had me busy enough that I didn’t have time to leave my usual rambly, wordy comments! (I have so many posts to catch up–including a new fanfic update, yay!)

    But, getting back to topic: Sivagami! It was me that said that about her being the tragic hero (proof, I suppose, that my education was not completely wasted 🙂 Definitely agree that her strength of will is her best trait, and her refusal to let herself lose power and/or make mistakes is her destruction. Because that, I think, is what she sees her love for Bahubali as, a weakness or mistake; namely that of favoritism that she wastes so much time compensating for that it sets her up to fly off the handle when he shows the least sign of disobedience (I mean, can you see her overreacting to this degree if Bhalla had, instead of announcing he wanted to kill her/being clearly sociopathic, had just announced that he wanted to leave Mahishmati and travel the world instead of being commander-in-chief if Bahubali would be king? I kind of suspect that she would rolled with it, honestly.). And I know we talked about this before, but it’s that same quality that would have inevitably led to disaster even if Devasena hadn’t been involved: Bahubali would have disagreed with her sooner or later in his role as king, and there still very likely would have been a rift between them.

    Well, and here’s the thing, too – the more I think about it, though it was awesome that she promised both boys a shot at the throne, technically Bahubali should always have been the king, assuming we’re working with a setup of basic primogeniture. Bahubali is the living son of the last king, after all. It’s a reference to the Mahabharata, to be sure, but the problem there was that the father of the Pandavas had gone into exile and his brother was ruling as regent; here, Bahubali clearly was next-in-line and Bhalla shouldn’t even have been considered. But let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say she wanted to make sure one wasn’t say, a raging sociopath before she promised him the throne, fair enough. But when Bahubali clearly proved himself more suited to the throne, it should have stopped there. And that’s where her other big problem is, that she’s put so much of herself into the throne that she can’t separate the two, in that personal and political become intertwined. (Especially when Devasena is involved. She is terribly petty to her – and not only insults her while pregnant, but also arrests her, exiles her [with nothing but the clothes she and her husband have on their back] and widows her, still while pregnant. And the thing is, I don’t think it has anything to do with being in-laws, except that it puts them into forced close contact with each other; I think their relationship would have been just as fraught if Bahubali had never married her, and Sivagami had been the empress while Devasena had only been the upstart young ruler of a client kingdom).

    I remember that we talked about how Sivagami has more stereotypically male characteristics of a ruler, while Amarendra is generally more touchy-feely, but that is the final thing I kind of appreciate about her: while mother hood is important to her plot arc, and clearly a source of her power as you point out, I honestly got the feeling that the broad themes of her character are gender-neutral. And that’s one of the things I most appreciate about her; it would have been so easy to generalize, “oh, clearly she was incompetent as a ruler because she was a woman and ruled by her feelings, if only Bahubali, the strong male, had been in charge instead” but that is never how it comes across to me. (And honestly Sivagami does a better job of ruling than anyone but hypothetical Amarendra, and that’s a hard standard to beat!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, you are back! Nice to see you again 🙂 I had to figure out the next steps of my fanfic all by myself, it was HORRIBLE.

      Yes to the self-doubt and guilt from her motherhood! She was well-nigh infallible as a ruler, but not as a mother. It’s yet another way the film explores the conflicts between various Dharmas, now that I think about it. As a mother, it was adharma for her to show preference between her children. But as a Queen, she had to make that decision and she put it off.

      In the same way, as a wife, her Dharma was to respect and listen to her husband. But as a ruler, she needed to tell him to shut the heck up. In that initial scene, Nassar called on her as a mother and as his wife to pick their son. But her Dharma as a ruler went against that, as you point out, Bahubali really did have the right to the throne. And more over, it was bad for the kingdom to leave this situation hanging.

      But like you said, none of that strictly was related to gender! It was her social role as a mother, as a wife, that confused her. But not anything inborn.

      On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 7:43 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • Haha, I’m not sure I helped figure anything out for the fanfic, but I am always here for fangirling over the updates! 🙂

        Yes, absolutely, with her social roles being to blame, not her necessarily. (And maybe that’s part of the reason Baahubali has to be exiled before he can reach his full potential- he is free of his social roles as obediant son, or as the kind of ruler who must be removed from the people, and is free to just be himself! Except Sivagami never got to a place where she could just be herself, except in her first scene/final moments, where she sacrifices herself for the baby.)

        And I agree too, that, she actually makes a fair bit of sense as a ruler- I’ve mentioned in the scene by scene posts how her decisions make sense to make from a purely political perspective, but are jarring otherwise.

        But I have to say, a large part of the reason why I love her instead of being annoyed st her as I am with Kattappa has to do with Ramya Krishnan’s portrayal. Like in the scene where Bhalla tells her about Kumar Varna’s assasination attempt and why Baahubali must die and her expression is horrified. Then she opens her mouths and : “There will be a civil war if he is killed” (paraphrase? I can’t remember exactly because I’m usually too busy crying at this point.) But the point is, it seems exceptionally cold, if Ramya doesn’t manage to convince us with her acting that Sivagami is really reacting to the thought of ordering her son’s death. I know people joke about Ramya/Sivagami being over the top sometimes, but I thought she did a phenomenal job.

        Like

        • Happy to see the renewed discussions on Bahubali characters.

          Nice discussion on Sivagami. I am a little less mad at Sivagami than I am at Kattappa. That idiot Kattappa could not kill himself but instead chose to kill Amarendra.

          Like

          • A literal “falling on his sword” moment would have been good there, right? He forces himself to trip, impales himself, is free of his vow of obedience and saves Prabhas 1.

            On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 6:01 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

  5. “She has no real right to the throne, no real right to make the decision as to the proper heir. Even without being the official heir, her husband would be a more proper regent. The nobles never elected her to any position, nor did the people. She just paid off some fighters and then took the throne, and everyone agreed to it. She has to keep moving forward, because to admit a mistake would be to admit that she might not deserve to rule, which would lead to a whole series of other questions that she can’t risk occurring.”

    I disagree with this. I’ve said this on another post before but I think what sets the story of this universe apart from other historical/mythological fictional universes is the Mahishmati constitution.

    We already know that the Queen Mother holds considerable constitutional power in Mahishmati laws. The Queen Mother has the power to elect/appoint/remove the king and to declare heirs. The King can make appointments/decisions within his administration and does not require approval/permission from the Queen Mother for that. The King and Queen Mother share power/administrative powers.

    Power doesn’t flow automatically from father king to his son. That is by design and there’s precedence for it in the story too. We know that after Somadeva (father of Bajjala and Vikrama), Vikrama got the crown superseding his elder brother Bajjala. Kattappa tells us in BB2 Bajjala intro, that it was done because Bajjala was declared unfit to rule. Notice that Bajjala isn’t given any other administrative portfolio either (unlike Bhallala/Amarendra who got to be the Head of the Armed Forces when the other brother was crowned king). We can only guess that the Royal Family of Mahishmati can only hold these administrative offices (Queen Mother, King, Queen, Head of the Armed Forces) since Amarendra isn’t demoted to any other position after he is stripped of his General rank.

    Bajjala was declared unfit to rule while Vikramadeva was alive. He wasn’t given any post to hold BUT his son was heir presumptive along with Amarendra. Bajjala says, in BB2, that he wanted to kill Sivagami when she took up guardianship of Amarendra. That effectively means that he wanted to remove every obstacle between himself and regency. He wouldn’t have been declared king under any circumstances even if Sivagami had died. BUT, Bajjala is present during the coronation of Mahendra and most court scenes so we can assume that some amount of power, even if it is for ceremonial purposes only or as royal counsel, is held by the members of the Royal Family even if they hold no posts.

    Sivagami holds power, not only as reagent but also as Queen Mother. Even if Amarendra’s mother had been alive and held both positions, Sivagami would still be a counsel member. At the attempted coup in the court in BB1, we find evidence for the legal basis of Sivagami’s regency. Firstly, we see Kattappa follow her orders. Remember that she is already Queen Mother at this point. Kattappa is loyal to the crown. Not individuals. Kattappa following her orders cements my belief that her regency was supported by the constitution. Secondly, we see RF loyalists attack and kill the coup supporting aristocrats. She doesn’t pay anyone to fight for her. Those are aristocrats and they declare their allegiance. So there is no constitutional basis to doubt her rule/position/authority. Kattappa’s loyalties are key to understanding the constitutional bases for Sivagami’s authority.

    Sivagami’s “My word is law” bit , that I understand as being something close to an executive order. Since Mahishmati has a proper written constitution, QM is probably given the authority to use executive orders. (sidenote: Mahendra makes the same declaration at his coronation which may be setting up the plot for BB3 which in my head included a proper coup/rebellion, attacks and wars).

    From this position, where Sivagami and her authority have legal bases, her flaw is probably overestimating the extent of Amarendra’s subservience. We know that everyone in the kingdom obeys her blindly and without question, including her own husband (who never rebels despite harbouring homicidal thoughts for her), her own son (who never throws a fit that despite being older and just as able as Amarendra, he is overlooked for kingship) and Kattappa (who kills the beloved prince he helped raise) just because Sivagami’s executive orders are binding legally within Mahishmati.

    I feel this is a reflection of the amount of trust everyone involved has placed in her as well as the strength of Mahishmati constitution. We dont get to see it in the film but Sivagami has likely done a great job as reagent. Mahishmati is flourishing when the flashback begins. The only threat are the lawless invader/marauders Kalakeya so we can assume that Mahishmati has managed to keep peaceful relations with other kingdoms as allies and trade partners.

    Dwelling a bit more on the subservience angle, that is precisely what Devasena lacks and what ticks Sivagami off about her and sparks the series of unfortunate events. Subversiveness from allies/protectorates is never ever taken lightly/tolerated by larger powers in the real world either so the fury from Sivagami is legitimate.

    The imagined subversiveness from Amarendra (to be fair, he only worked using the law Sivagami taught him so technically he wasn’t being subversive at all at any point) is not only a threat to Sivagami’s personal authority, it is also a threat to crown itself. Amarendra is just crown prince when he starts “disobeying” the official actual reagent. Her authority still supersedes his. He holds no position and no power and no authority to do so. Public clashes between incumbent superior authorities and incoming administrators brings down public trust in the institution in the real world too.

    In the Devasena in chains scene (BTW, criminals held for attack with a weapon even today are handcuffed when brought to court so they’re not wrong in doing that at all), we see that the Mahamantri (prime minister?) is asked to find out what the punishment for the crime is when the offence is committed by a member of the royal clan (rajkutumbh). so we know Sivagami operated within the framework of the law. That fact is never left open to question in the film.

    Like

    • In some other post, in the comments, we tossed around exactly how Kattappa’s loyalty works. One theory was that it is always to a particular person within the family. Perhaps Prabhas 0, on his death bed or before he died, indicated to Kattappa that Sivagami was the next rightful leader of the family. And therefore Kattappa followed her orders. And we all saw how Sivagami very clearly placed baby Prabhas 2 at the head of the family.

      But, if your Queen Mother theory is correct, that would mean that Kattappa would have to obey Anushka’s orders. Because she would be Queen Mother, even if the baby was gone. Which is why I think there must be some slippage there, that Kattappa is more of a personal possession than just following the laws of the land.

      I am also wondering, is there a Mahishmati constitution? There are certainly laws, we saw that. But the idea of a constitution laying out the rules and responsibilities of monarchy is a fairly new concept, I know in the West the Magna Carta was the first one in 1215 CE, I don’t know about India. A constitution meaning a formal written document that everyone respects even above the power of individual rulers. I could believe that Mahishmati has certain traditions of how things work, but those traditions could be overturned by a forceful personality.

      Good point about Sivagami being still regent when Prabhas 1 disobeys her! If we accept that she had law on her side (which I am still unsure of, considering she did in fact have to pay of fighters in order to take the throne), then even though Prabhas 1 was a king in waiting, he was not yet king, and therefore should have obeyed her orders. It would be the same as anyone else disobeying. But then the question becomes, at what point is it direct disobedience and rebellion, and at what point is it merely presenting an alternative view you should consider before moving forward? Sivagami could have taken a step back, de-escalated the situation once someone whose opinion she respected indicated he disagreed with her. This is where, I think, she shows the same personality traits you have issue with in Devasena. She cannot stand to be disobeyed or disagreed with and reacts impulsively.

      On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:49 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • “But, if your Queen Mother theory is correct, that would mean that Kattappa would have to obey Anushka’s orders. Because she would be Queen Mother, even if the baby was gone.”

        To be Queen Mother you’d need to have a living baby declared heir. Like Devasena couldn’t be Queen Mother while she hadn’t had Mahendra. Once Kattappa realises Mahendra is alive, he recognises Bhallala as the usurper. Mahendra was declared king by the previous Queen Mother and is thus the rightful ruler and thus his mother is the Queen Mother. Kattappa says this quite clearly to Bajjala when Mahendra & Co. Storm the city. Without Mahendra being alive as per known facts in Mahishmati, Bhallala’s wife and Bhalla’s mother is the Queen Mother. And we never see her in the film so maybe she’s dead.

        In the scene with Sheikh Aslam Khan, Kattappa mentions that everyone born in his clan is enslaved to the Mahishmati crow (“Mahishmati rajsinghasan” in Hindi and “Mahishmati simhasana” in Telugu version). He claims it is a vow given by his ancestors.

        I haven’t read the Sivagami book but the synopsis claims that Mahishmathi was colonised by Uttama Varma. I don’t know how he’s related to Somadeva and how many generations passed before Somadeva came on the scene but his children, Bajjala and Vikrama are the same age as Sivagami and Sivagami saves his life and gets married to Bajjala. When we start in the films, there is no other female in the royal household other than Sivagami. And she has a few month old son so she’s Queen Mother to at least one heir presumptive. We don’t know how Amarendra’s coronation would have affected her status since she was only his adoptive mother and not his birth mother.

        And yes, there is a Mahishmati constitution. Sivagami mentions this in the Devasena in chains scene claiming Devasena kept on disrespecting the Mahishmati constitution despite warning. the Hindi version clearly uses the word “samvidhan”. Also mentioned in the same speech is a Mahishmati penal code.

        Since Sivagami has the mahamantri read out the punishment for what Devasena and Bahubali did (maiming the Head of the Armed Forces, murdering the head of the armed forces, taking the law into their own hands, disrespecting the constitution) being a part of the rajakutumbh (suggesting a commoner would face different punishment for the same crimes). Sivagami decrees that what Devasena and Bahubali have done is sedition (“rajadroha” in the Hindi version)

        Sedition is understood as subversiveness and incitement of rebellion (like step one towards rebellion) so Sivagami is correct in banishing them (softer punishment for royal blood). Later on, when she is convinced that Bahubali is acting like a king amongst the general populace (he kinda was), she had absolute legal basis for ordering his assassination.

        As a mom and former reagent, she should have waited for more intelligence but then again, it wouldn’t have disproved the “acting like a king” bit. She should have talked to Bahubali to clear doubts/tell him to stop/banish him to Kuntala to prevent the messy bits. But she has total legal basis with facts on the ground to support the order to assassinate Bahubali since it probably looked like his “seditionist” streak was likely heading to a full blown rebellion. And she is right in saying ordering a public execution would result in a civil war.

        Like

        • That’s what I love about this movie, and what feels very “Mahabharat”y to me. That everyone has legitimate reasons for what they are doing, reasons that don’t just make sense within their own minds, but which are objectively valid. It’s only the audience, with the ability of hindsight and just kind of knowing who the “hero” is, who can see the miss steps.

          The bigger question that I feel like Bahubali purposefully makes the audience think about is when those laws of society should be overthrown, when is breaking the peace and disregarding law the “right” thing to do? Ramya is a just and good ruler, to rebel against her would be wrong. But she is slowly losing power to someone who is a bad bad ruler. At what point do you actively try to incite rebellion? At what point do you ignore the laws.

          Ramya herself reaches that point, she declares Prabhas 2 as king while Rana is still living, which is surely either against the laws or a very very strange interpretation of them. And she goes on to kill soldiers and do all sorts of things that could be seen as “rebellion”. But it is because the time is right for rebellion, more than right by that point.

          In response to another comment, I mentioned how every character in the film is flawed, and the flaws of Prabhas 1 and 2 are complimentary, too cautious from the father and too impulsive from the son. If Prabhas 1 had truly called for open rebellion, instead of just sort of falling into it by circumstances, would things have worked out better? And we saw how Prabhas 2 would have lost the final battle if not for Kattappa physically restraining him and forcing patience.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes. I totally agree about every character being flawed in this film. What I absolutely love in this universe is how layered each character is. There are basically no heroes in it.

            Like I totally didn’t understand Avantika. But your interpretation felt like a lightbulb moment. She’s not a hero. Just a girl who doesn’t have choices.

            Shivudu is just a happy go lucky tribal boy looking for adventure. I’m waiting for that character study. Have you done that yet?

            Sivagami is so complex. I’ve ordered the book now because I just gotta know her whole deal!

            I think Kattappa is her spiritual twin in the film (it would be awesome if they’re shown to he related somehow in the novels!) They’re both such strict adherents to “laws”.
            The more I think of laws and dharma within this universe, the louder I head Monica Geller’s “Rules help control the fun” in my head! 😁 Both Kattappa and Sivagami have their fun controlled by rules for sure!

            Amarendra, who was my favorite after the last full viewing, is turning out to be very interesting the more I think about him. Playboy Prince, always thought of himself as the next king (cocky!), cutes his way (emotionally manipulative) and his Kuntala adventure should be seen as an indicator of manipulative behavior trends (I wonder what else has he done), he cares about people’s feelings just not Bhallaladeva’s feelings or Sivagami’s feelings. Actually he doesn’t even acknowledge Bhallaladeva’s feelings. He is so dismissive of Sivagami’s feelings when he tells Devasena “Oh, mom would stop being mad when we give her a grandchild!” Like, dude, do you even know why your mom is mad?! He never tells Devasena she is wrong. Why? Is she perfect? No! He’s quite the henpecked husband there.

            And Bhallala, such a tragic character. Parents stuck in a bad marriage, mom was so busy being boss lady she doesn’t even notice him, an insecure father who teaches him nothing about being a man. Bahubali has a father figure in Kattappa but Bhallala has no-one. Add to that his sexual orientation. It looks like he grew up with an anxiety disorder. He cannot talk to people as easily as Baahubali can. Nobody talks to him either since he’s a friend. He’s surrounded by sycophants and he knows they’re not his friends. his weapon of choice is a mace with a retractable head. The mace is associated with brahmachari characters in mythology. That’s repressed sexuality. The women he loves reject him. Mother rejects him and only crowns him to spite her favorite child not because she believes in his abilities. Devasena rejects him. His wife’s death/non-presense indicates a joyless marriage.

            I really love this fandom!! 😁

            Like

          • I am having such fun in my fanfic redeeming Rana. I didn’t mean to go this way, I just wanted the mental casting to be the same. But he ended up with really similar character traits, very focused, very calm, very patient. But also strangely unable to relate to other people. Only, with a mother who gave him love and a firm moral grounding, and raised in an environment with a lot of people who cared about him, and now with Sudeep to train him in how to be a man, he has turned into a hero! That lack of concern for other people means he has an objective view of a situation, and focus and patience and calm are all good too.

            And the same thing could be done with any character! All the villains (well, except Nassar) could have been heroes in the right environment, and all the heroes could have been villains. And that’s why Sivagami is so fascinating, because she is both! And it is the same traits which make her both, her strength of will. But her environment changes and suddenly she is on the wrong side.

            On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 10:08 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Liked by 1 person

          • I’m definitely reading that! It just feels like I need to have special time set aside to read your stuff. I love it so much. You’re really gifted! I wish we could see these threads on Facebook too. Would be so much easier to tag people when you need to show specific comments. Maybe I just need to get the hang of this app!

            Like

  6. You know, after watching the first movie, immediately I realized and felt there is a lot of depth to this character and is probably THE central character of the movie series, though they are named otherwise. I knew at once she had a lot going in herself and her complicated brain running all sorts of things. That is for proving this point to me. Second movie made it more clear, animation made it great, and books took it to whole new level.

    Like

    • I’m still trudging my way through the book, I have issues with most of it, but I feel like it did a great job capturing a lot of what we see in Sivagami’s character in the films.

      On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  7. “But she got comfortable with that, comfortable having supporters around her.”

    Peace is a hallmark of efficient administration. Sivagami’s rule has been an efficient one which is why there isn’t any trouble within the kingdom till the Kalakeya/pick and heir question arrives.

    Like

    • The problem is, she allowed peace to make her too comfortable, lost that sense of leadership and struggle and clear thinking. At least, as I see it. It was in peaceful moments that she made errors, not in wartime ones.

      On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 12:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  8. I read this post twice. And I couldn’t help but feel that had i read this after the first viewing, I would have completely agreed with it. Today, however, I feel differently about Sivagami.

    For me, I think her tragic flaw is that she is “too much reagent too less mom” for her own good. Like she was so busy being reagent, Queen Mother and mentor to the heirs that she never truly connected with her son and adoptive son at the basic instinctive level. Her flaw is that she thinks, acts and feels like a man. And she’s had to be a man all her life. She’s a dad with a high stress job. She loves her kids to bits BUT she’s too busy training them to take over her empire to know their true inner nature. She’s the typical “boss lady mom” from every Hollywood film we have ever seen.

    She probably defers the decision to name an heir because she doesn’t want to make the wrong choice based on her prejudice against Bajjala and what she presumed his influence on/against the declared heir would be. Declaring an infant/child heir leads leads to the child growing up with sycophants around them and they make terrible kings later. Delaying the decision until they were fully trained in law and war craft was an excellent decision by Sivagami as reagent. That was for the best of the crown.

    She cannot sense that Bhallala’s mind may have been poisoned by his father because she doesn’t know the inner workings of her own child. She thinks her love/training would override whatever crap Bajjala put into the kid’s mind. She doesn’t see Amarendra’s defence of the badtameez and badmizaj Devasena coming because she doesn’t know how deeply ingrained “dharma” and law etc are within the psyche of the child she raised.

    Her reaction to Devasena’s badtameezi is “imprison her”. A very masculine reaction. Her reaction to Bhallala’s expression of liking for Devasena isn’t “Let’s go put together a baarat and go get the girl of your dream, son! Wedding, dress up, Yay!!” It’s a bland and masculine, “Take my son’s sword and bring the girl back as his wife”. That’s what a man would do.

    Her reaction to Bhallala being appointed Head of the Armed Forces is to give him playthings– elephants (to go hunting), a kickass bow (a toy nobody else has) and a palace of his own (so he doesn’t have to live with mommy and can enjoy indulgences — wine and women/men– that soldiers desire after being at war “need”) What kind of a mom gives her grown ass son a fully loaded bachelor pad? That’s what an overcompensating dad does!

    Her first orders after the Kalakeya victory is to give Bhallala the ultimate bachelor life while Amarendra is told to go train for the job while a suitable wife would be selected for him and he’d need to get in the family way asap after coronation and secure the family line.

    It is also important to note that we already know that Amarendra is more flirtatious/amorous one of the two brothers. He was winking at palace girls after his swordsmanship test, dancing with dancing girls at Singapuram– we all know that song was about him getting everyone drunk while he has a threesome with three hot non-royal chicks (prostitutes?) Bhallala is already out doing the hard work and they’re in disguise so no one would ever know who he was so he uses the opportunity to be with women. During the travel through the kingdom as part of preparations for the job, he decides to spend a chunk of the time chasing a girl. Amarendra is the playboy Prince who needs to be settled down with a family asap. Dad Sivagami plans to do exactly that for him.

    I agree with comments on earlier posts about Bhallala’s sexual orientation. I suppose it would make sense for Sivagami to give him his own palace far from the city so he can enjoy his sexuality without the public scrutiny. Maybe that’s why Sivagami jumps at his mention of a girl. Her possibly gay son wants a girl. No wonder she’s determined to get her for him before he can change his mind about his orientation. Earlier too, she only goes through scrolls looking for a wife just for Amarendra, not both the boys so we know Bhallala’s wedding isn’t a priority for her.

    Later on, when Bajjala convinces her that Amarendra needs to die, she doesn’t think for a second like a mom that she needs to talk to her nephew/son and see where things have gone wrong. She totally buys their theory that Amarendra is out to usurp power. She thinks like an uncle/father/reagent who needs to take a strong decision that weeds out rebellion too. After rescuing baby Mahendra, she appeals to god that this child needs to live to rescue Mahishmati and his mother. It’s a newborn. A woman would want the child to just live.

    So I guess, for me, Sivagami’s tragic flaw is that she doesn’t think like a woman at all.

    Like

    • I agree, but came to the opposite conclusion! She is flawed as a mother, so she shouldn’t even try. As regent, she makes great decisions. But when she tries to make choices as a mother, she fails. In the end, it might have been better to just cut the “mother” part out. As regent, she knew that Bahubali was the better choice. She probably knew that she shouldn’t just promise Rana a wife because he liked a girl’s picture. And I am sure, on some level, she must have known her reaction to Anushka’s talking back and Prabhas 1 supporting her was more of a personal reaction than a Regent one.

      If she had been the “typical” royal mother (like, say, we see in Akbar’s mother in Jodha-Akbar) and left the actual raising of the children to someone else, while she gave them formal instructions and treated them as members of her court, not her family, we might not have had all these issues.

      On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 2:16 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  9. The thing that struck me when I watched Bahubali2 the second time was how much we take Sivagami’s strength for granted. When I watched the movie the first time, I was all enamoured by how strong and badass Devasena was, and though we also had scenes showing Sivagami’s strength, I basically took it for granted, until I watched it for the second (probably third) time.
    I agree that her strength, and her fatal flaw is her authoritativeness, and strength of will. That is what helps her maintain a peaceful kingdom for so many years, and also what drives her onto the wrong path. But also, she does take so many good decisions and does good generally. That is probably why I was not as concerned about Shivudu’s later declaration ‘My word is law’. To me, it indicated that he was paying homage to her, and a hope that he had inherited her best traits (they both had ‘Shiva names, I don’t think that was a coincidence). It also indicated a return to a good rule (though under Sivagami, it could have been better).

    Like

    • Is this the post where I talk about tyranny? It is, right?

      There definitely seems to be a message in the films that a strong central figure is better than ministers and priests and so on. The key to good governance, in Bahubali land, is picking the person who has that moral sense to be the ruler. Which we can see in the way they don’t follow primogeniture. The ruler is so important and so central that it’s not just about being raised in the royal family and so on and so on, it’s about all of that lifelong training, and still being the best person for the job. I could see, in theory, that the Mahishmati inheritance traditions would even allow you to go far outside of primogeniture. Like, maybe even if Nassar had been the younger son instead of older, his child would still be considered if his abilities proved more suited to leadership.

      On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 9:14 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • Yes, it does seem so.:)
        Also I had read in many reviews criticism about how they portrayed Sivagami, that as a woman, she doesn’t know what’s going on and takes wrong decisions. But actually the makers have taken great care to not portray her like that. She is an inherently good and just and intelligent person who makes a genuine mistake. And that she is allowed that mistake and given a chance for redemption empowers women more than portraying them as ideals who don’t do any mistake at all, I feel.

        Like

        • Absolutely! I liked Sivagami much better as a female character after B2 than I did after B1. In B1, she was much closer to that boring ideal. The wise all knowing all seeing mother kind of character.

          But B2 made her into a person, with flaws and virtues, just like all the other characters. Even the Prabhasi have flaws, Prabhas 1 being too cautious, and Prabhas 2 being too impetuous.

          On Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 1:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Like

          • As I ready commented in another post, the good characters in these two movies have weaknesses along with great virtues. Thats what makes the story go through dramatic turning points and I liked it.

            Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s