Bahubali Theme Post: Kattappa, Morally Crippled

Continuing our character posts, next up, Kattappa!  Introduced 4th in the films, after Sivagami, Shivudu, and Avantika.  And again, this is not meant to be the end all-be all on this character.  Just sort of an interesting leaping off point to consider him. (full index of Bahubali posts, including other character posts, is here)

Kattappa is a really interesting character.  Perhaps the most interesting character.  Not the most admirable of the films (Amarendra), or the most complex (Sivagami).  But the one that leaves an indelible mark on your mind from his very first scene.

Perhaps it is because he is so simple?  There’s a kind of freedom in slavery.  Not that I am saying slavery is good!  But, for instance, prisoners released after decades in jail can crave that order.  The constant pressure to decide what to eat, when to sleep, all of that was taken away from them.  And they got used to that loss of control.

Kattappa gets to decide what to eat and so on.  But he doesn’t have to struggle with any of the moral questions the other characters deal with.  There are no higher functions for him, just eat, sleep, fight, duty.  Even love is not part of his equation.

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I said in the last post that Avantika is another version of Kattappa.  And I stand by that.  But she is a version who is capable of choices.  Kattappa, in his introduction scene, explains that he is a slave to the royal family not because of any choice of his own, but because of a duty to his ancestors, decisions they made.  He was born into slavery and has never known anything else.

Earlier I used the analogy of someone released from prison, who sometimes misses the ability to give up day to day decision making.  Another analogy might be a child who was raised in an institution.  There is a term for it, “Institutional Syndrome”.  It’s not just a matter of missing that security from a regulated life, it’s a matter of no longer having the skills to live in any other way, or no longer having been taught those skills (this is why orphanages are bad and America increasingly switched to a foster care system).

(I don’t mean happy Mr. India orphanages, I mean ones with a rotating group of staff members and strict rules about when to eat and sleep and stuff like that)

Avantika, for instance, she chose to live a life of duty and repression.  But it was her choice.  She knew there was something else out there, and she knew that she could have it if she decided to go after it.  Kattappa, he couldn’t even grasp the idea of free will.  It would be like trying to describe colors to someone born color blind.  He knows it is something other people have, but it is something that is just not in him.

(Speaking of colorblindness, Lucia is just the coolest movie, you should definitely watch it)

That’s why Kattappa is so fascinating.  He is this brilliant powerful man.  But he is crippled inside, or not just crippled, “differently abled”.  While other people walk on their feet, he walks on his hands, let’s say.  And that’s what we see in his very first scene.  He wins a bargaining battle, and a sword fight, proving amazing abilities.  And then immediately says, despite his huge abilities, he cannot do anything without the permission of his masters.  The dialogue tries to explain it, fate-Dharma-something.  But really, he cannot do anything without the permission of his masters because he literally cannot.  He never learned how and it is too late for him to develop the ability.

That’s why he is so fascinating to us, as viewers, I think.  The other characters, they are sort of more-than-human.  All the parts we recognize within ourselves, anger and love and hatred and a desire to do good, but exaggerated slightly.  But still there.

But Kattappa, he is something totally different.  He has no emotions we can recognize within ourselves because they are all filtered through his cracked worldview.  Pride, it’s pride in the people he serves.  Anger, it’s anger on behalf of/with the permission of the people he serves.  Love, it’s half-ashamed love, quickly hidden and forgotten.  Hatred, that is not allowed either.  A desire to do good, that doesn’t exist.

Kattappa has no desire to be a better person.  No desire to do good in the world.  No desire to make the world a better place.  Because that would mean a level of abstract thinking that Kattappa never learned.  Yes, he knows right from wrong, on a basic level.  Devasena being chained up and put on display, that is wrong.  Amarendra fighting bandits to save a kingdom, that is right.  But if you asked him “Is it better to wage civil war for justice, or to accept injustice if it brings peace?”, he wouldn’t even understand the question.

This is also why, as viewers, we can find him a frustrating character to watch.  It is similar to looking at a baby playing with blocks.  At a certain point, you just want to say “Be smarter!  Put the square in the square and the circle on the circle!  It’s SO OBVIOUS!”  Kattappa is like that baby.  Something that is crystal clear to us, regular human people who were given free will as our birthright, is invisible to him.

Image result for happy new year shahrukh safe

(Or like that moment at the end of Happy New Year when literally EVERYBODY IN THE THEATER figures out the secret code before Shahrukh)

What makes him a tragic figure is that, very very slowly over the course of the two films, he is beginning to realize that something is wrong with him.  It begins with Amarendra’s kindness.  Kindness that he has to learn how to respond to, because it is something he has both never received, and never given.

He throws himself enthusiastically into Amarendra’s love story, without fully following what is happening and why (the scene with the love birds, as Avani (I think) pointed out in the comments, illustrates beautifully his inability to understand emotions).  When it all goes wrong in court, for the first time, Kattappa tries to do something for himself.  But it is the wrong thing, because the right thing does not occur to him.  Rather than telling Sivagami that the flaw was in the message she sent, either the wording of it which made which son it was referring to unclear, or the commanding tone which insisted she had the right to force this marriage, Kattappa takes the fault onto himself.  And, ultimately, makes things worse.

During the baby shower, Anushka tries to reach out to him as a fellow human, and again Kattappa fails to understand her, responding in the only way he knows how, not agreeing to be the baby’s “grandfather”, but instead offering to be his slave.

During the final battle and death of Amarendra, Kattappa knows that he should not do this.  Normal human people do not kill those they love.  But he also doesn’t know how NOT to do this, how to put anything (love, an abstract sense of right and wrong) above duty.  Even the words to frame this internal debate do not exist in his head.  And so there is no debate, he carries out his duty.  But some dumb unspoken part of himself resists, and puts it off until the last minute.

Kattappa’s “happy ending” is not to gain Free Will, because he wouldn’t know what to do with it if he had it.  It is to gain a better master, one who will slowly teach him how to make decisions on his own, to make moral judgments, to understand the concept of morality at all.  I know we all want him to kill Nassar at the end and declare that he is following Mahendra just because he wants to.  But that would not be true to his character.  Kattappa has a long way to go before he could ever make a decision like that.

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57 thoughts on “Bahubali Theme Post: Kattappa, Morally Crippled

  1. Pingback: Bahubali Posts Index | dontcallitbollywood

  2. 1. I’m reminded of Brooks from Shawshank who’s been in prison too long to go back and function in a free world.
    2. About that backstabbing scene, so Bhalla arranged for his men to tie up Katappa over a fire knowing full well someone will see that and inform Amarendra who will come for him (eerily similar to how Dumbledore explains Voldemort operates, counting on people who love, to act in a certain predictable way to save their near and dear, #hp5 #harrypotter20 !). And then Katappa will have to kill him on orders. So then how or where did the Kalakeya remnants come from? Were they also tipped off by Bhalla or was it just coincidence?

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    • My theory, which I go into in super detail in my scene by scene section on this, is that none of this is a coincidence. anushka goes into labor, they send word to Kattappa to come as promised. Kattappa and the palace guards travel to a pre-arranged spot near the village (so Prabhas will assume he was arrested while coming for the birth, and not find it odd that he was captured so close by. Heck, even his capture for “treason” could be because he was coming for the birth and having treasonous interactions with Prabhas). Kattappa is tied up and tortured so as to delay Prabhas, since he won’t leave behind an injured friend. The kings guards scatter as soon as Prabhas appears, because they can’t appear to be part of this, as that would cause the very Civil War that Ramya was trying to avoid.

      Then, fake Kalekayas (notice that they use arrows and finished metal weapons whicht he real Kalekayes never did, Plus they have slightly different costuming nad make-up) who are really mercenaries hired by the palace show up exactly as planned. Prabhas’ death will be blamed on them. Kattappa’s only job is to delay him by being a burden. And, if the Kalekayas fail to kill him, Kattappa is there as back-up to take him out after the battle has weakened him. Which is exactly what happened. All of the “coincidences” could actually have been planned in advance by the palace, and since the last thing we see is Ramya clarifying that they have to arrange the death in such a way that Rana will not be blamed, it seems reasonable that they were all arranged.

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      • Ah ok does add up now. Thanks for the response.

        I hope Karan Johar or someone of his stature brings together SRK and Priyanka Chopra as leads with AR Rahman as composer and Rajamouli as director.

        Oh a man can dream..

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  3. So the first thing that leapt into my mind as I read this was that Kattappa is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator, the madman I suppose would be his proper classification.

    (it’s like 1:30am right now so I may not be totally coherent. Just couldn’t resist reading this right away :P)

    If we judge his introduction independently of whatever happens later, we see him as the adhipati of the royal armory who is authorised to make arms deals with foreign dignitaries/royalty. So he’s high up the food chain. High enough to make judgements for the royal army and defence spending. He’s quietly confident and assertive. He refuses to dine with Sheikh Aslam but he doesn’t refuse the hug.

    You see, thanks to his closeness to Sivagami and then Amarendra and then to Bhallala, Kattappa has transcended his caste not only in the minds of others but also in his own mind.

    Kattappa likes to think of himself as one of the family which isn’t unheard of. Butlers, housekeepers, Ramu Kaka have all been around in real life and in fiction long enough for audiences everywhere to instinctively understand Kattappa. Kattappa is Ramu Kaka to a tee.

    And like Ramu Kaka he is overinvolved in the affairs of what is effectively his own foster family. The cheek he gives Bajjala in BB2 intro could be copied to the word into a British period film and it would still make sense.

    90% of his story is told to the audience by Kattappa himself. The lowly slave who thinks of himself as a nobody is telling the audience how he singlehandedly saved Sivagami and the baby Princes from the coup, how child Amarendra picked him to be his mama (note that it wasn’t bhai or chacha, rather a relation that showed his closeness to Amarendra’s mother), how he told Amarendra he should have fought for better arms at the war, how he defended the Trident, how he was on teasing terms with the future king, how he wingmanned for him, how Amarendra asked him to set him up with Devasena, how Devasena asked him to be their kid’s godfather, how Sivagami chose him to murder her son, how he learnt of the truth and came and told Sivagami off (called her by her name!!) then fought off Bhallala loyalists helping Sivagami escape with Mahendra.

    All of this is Kattappa telling us how close he is to the royal family. One can argue that he needs to present an inflated account of himself (it may be true that he was THAT close to them) and he doesn’t want to be judged for it so he adds the “but I’m a slave” bit to the stories he tells. I thought his bit about the birds being tasty was self-deprecating since we see that he and Amarendra are close. Close enough for guy talk!

    Now, it has been suggested by commentators in this blog and elsewhere too that Kattappa and Sivagami might be a thing. Well, what if they had been? What if that’s why her word (even to kill Amarendra) is more important to him than anything? He specifically says that he wants to spare Sivagami the horror of having to kill her adoptive son.

    Also, that event was sufficiently jarring to give anyone PTSD. What if Kattappa has been reeling with PTSD etc for 25 years (or 50 years if he’s had an affair with Sivagami and/or Bhallala is his kid) and his own account of himself is not accurate?

    Alternatively, re the epilogue, what if the entire story is just incoherent ramblings inside the mind of a now demented Kattappa? He is almost 80 at the end of the films!

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    • Ha! For once I am keeping you up! Right as I get ready for bed around 10 or 11, suddenly my phone starts going off with ten million comment alerts as India wakes up. And then I end up not getting to bed until midnight or 1am.

      anyway, moving on to your comment.

      I like your idea of the faithful family retainer who has lost the sense that this is not actually his own family. All his desires and goals and everything else have been subsumed into these people and their lives. He thinks of them as equal in that they are his family. But he is not equal to them in that he would never think to say “Bahubali, I’m hungry, can you go get us something to eat?” It’s always their desires which become his, not the other way around.

      I also definitely feel the PTSD part of it. If we look at his other “present day” scenes, he is always just so sad. And kind of broken feeling. Especially in that moment after he has saved Bhalla. It feels like maybe Bhalla has been torturing him in this way and exacerbating the PTSD to keep it going for 25 years? That seems like something Bhalla would enjoy, but also a smart move. If Kattappa had been given emotional support and time, he could have started thinking all the things we have been talking about in the comments, like maybe Anushka could be considered “Queen mother” which means she could give him orders instead of Bhalla. Or maybe he should go on a quest and try to confirm that baby Mahendra had really died. All of those would be alternative options that could still technically fulfill his vow. But he needed some hope and peace before he could get to those ideas.

      Which also works for another interpretation I had of Kattappa! As the representative of all the people of Mahishmati. Like them, he could have rebelled, but there was the initial shock, and then the tortures of Bhalla that kept him weak for 25 years. Until Mahendra returned and provided the new shock to break him out of the PTSD feeling.

      Oh, and I choose to see Kattappa as a completely reliable narrator, based on what we see of him in the “present day” as well as the past, he is always the voice of truth. Either that, or just go completely against the grain and have Kattappa and Devasena be truly evil and threats to the kingdom who deserve their punishment, and they are just brainwashing this poor innocent boy to fight their battles for them.

      On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 3:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Or he can be that shocked and tired old man in mourning for 25 years for the woman he loved (maybe as a sister, maybe as more than that), the boy he helped raise, the child he vowed to protect and the girl who he wronged because he couldn’t see a trap. His tragedy isn’t just that he lost all these people he loved so deeply and they loved him back too, his tragedy is also his failure as a solider/head of the special forces.

        I don’t know if I’m using the right words to describe what I’m feeling but I guess what I’m trying to say that the flashback, when I see it from a PTSD-influenced, remorseful, regretful, in-mourning guy’s perspective, feels just like a real personal memory of a good with bad time. Like sometimes I’m talking something that happened way back when with friends or cousins and my memory of it and their memory of it have variations. I guess what I’m saying is that since Kattappa features so heavily in the flashback that he is narrating himself, chances of it being imperfect are high. Not untrue, just imperfect.

        Not like that makes the core story any different, it just leaves more room for interpretation of events.

        Kattappa and Devasena aren’t and cannot “evil” because they don’t have the necessary intentions for it. In life and in law, intent is what makes all the difference. Did you intend to kill that guy? No? Ok, involuntary manslaughter for you! Oh you wanted to kill that guy and you’ve planned it meticulously and you enjoyed the process too? You’re getting the chair, sir! Both Devasena and Kattappa don’t mean to stir the shit. Devasena can’t help being a kid.

        I think it is curious that Kattappa makes no effort to bring evidence of Amarendra’s innocence while he’s planning the assassination if we go by your theory about how they lured Amarendra into the trap. Kattappa’s complicity in setting that up means he had time. He doesn’t use that time to investigate. Why? Perhaps because he too could see Sivagami’s perspective (of Amarendra’s rebellion) and he was just hoping to die so he doesn’t have to kill him and on his death bed he could confess and then Amarendra could lead an actual rebellion against Bhallala and everything would be ok. That’s a solid plan except he underestimates Amarendra’s love for himself and Sivagami.

        These are the sort of unresolved bits that I attribute to gaps in memory and PTSD etc. One can forgive an 80-year old those. This is why see him as an unreliable narrator who may not necessarily be totally untrue in his accounts.

        I agree with you in that Kattappa represents the praja at large. Both Kattappa and the praja don’t rebel because they don’t have a better alternative to Bhallala.

        As for kattappa’s chains, they’re not unique to him in this universe. Every character is chained to ideals and ideas in this story.

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        • I think I see what you are saying. Kattappa sees so much of this as happening due to his efforts because it is all a mixture of guilt and pride over his actions. And Amarendra is so perfect and lovable, and Devasena is less so but still brave and beautiful, because that is how Kattappa saw them.

          Oh! And the really interesting thing, the very opening of B2 establishes that Kattappa was the only person who fully saw Bhalla and Bijala for what they were, right from the start. So all that slow build of evil, that is Kattappa looking back and putting together how this was planned from early on.

          I follow the same idea with Kattappa’s idea if he knew the plan all along. I think he was looking for the gaps, that maybe amarendra wouldn’t come for him, or maybe he would leave before the Kalekayas arrived (I think he is telling him to go even before the attack), or that he would defeat the Kalekaya and then leave. Or that he would defeat the Kalekaya and Kattappa would manage to die before he had to fulfill his orders. There were a lot of places he could have had hope that things would work out, more so than with a simpler plan like “ambush Amarendra outside his house and stab him in the back”.

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          • I understand what you and Asmita are saying but Kattappa had one sure shot option to save Amarendra and did not even think about it. Kattappa could have revealed everything to Amarendra and KILLED HIMSELF. Yes, that would mean Sivagami would be pushed into Killing Amarendra herself but atleast Amarendra could have been provided a chance to defend himself or talk it out with Sivagami.

            What irked me more about Katappa were his actions in BB1. He tells Devasena that he will allow her to escape but still is ready to kill the person (Shivudu) who rescued Devasena.

            And in this entire plot to execute Amarendra what doesnt make most sense is Sivagami’s justification in issuing the execution order. Amarendra was banished from the palace. And she doesnt consider the option of Amarendra being banished from Mahishmathi itself.

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          • That’s what I meant when I said I interpreted Kattappa as an unreliable narrator.

            In BB1, he offers to release Devasena with the option of killing himself once she reaches safety since the rajyadesh Bhallala gives him is that her release can be secured with him killing her. Everyone knows Devasena is a warrior and can easily kill an 80-year old Kattappa. Maybe he wants to make up for having killed Amarendra by dying at the hands of Devasena.

            Once she refuses, he is back to status quo. He’s still the Head of the Royal Armory and possibly Special Forced too so when he goes after Devasena, he’s just following orders. Remember that he doesn’t know who’s taken Devasena and he would be justified in thinking that it may he Bhallala orchestrating the “escape” to kill her. Plus, Bhalla was also out there and he was duty bound to protect the Prince and heir of Mahishmati.

            In another post i’ve theorised that Sivagami is legally and constitutionally correct in seeing Amarendra’s king-in-exile bit as subversiveness. If you look at it from a reagent’s point of view, your Crown Prince has just refused an executive order to bring a prisoner in chains, he sides with the subversive, ill-mannered princess from a protectorate in full court, he refuses to read from the traditional Head of the Armed Forces oath scroll and has massive public backing, he interferes with a trial brought to the King’s court, he executes the sitting Head of the Armed Forces, he sides with his criminal wife (vigilante justice carrying out wife who attacked the Head of the Armed Forces), his wife openly harbours seditious sentiments, even after banishment, he continues to flout the authority of the King by presiding over public affairs (were the constructions authorised? Did he have jurisdiction to listen to and give verdict in public grievance cases?), his brother-in-law was found in the King’s chambers in a failed assassination attempt with the royal dagger widely known as Amarendra’s personal weapon.

            You see, Sivagami had plenty of reasons to believe that Amarendra harbored seditious sentiments and was planning a coup. Her fault and Amarendra’s fault was that they didn’t talk to each other. If Sivagami makes no effort to reach out to him, neither does he. He’s very dismissive of her hurt feelings when he assumes she’d get over it once he goes her a grandson!

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          • I had that same reaction to Bahubali’s king-in-exile period! Not so much that Sivagami was right and it was seditious, but that Bhalla and Bijala were right and it was dangerous. Even if Bahubali had been just a normal village leader type, he was teaching the kids fighting tactics, he was building enormous public works, he was giving judgements. As the song said, even without consciously being aware of what was happening, he was acting as a king. If they had let it go, within 20 years he would have built his own kingdom without ever really intending to. Those kids he was teaching to wrestle just for fun would grow up to be trained warriors, those public works would turn into massive buildings soon, he was only there like 2 months or something (based on Devasena’s stomach size), and already had done so much. If they hadn’t stopped him, think how much more he would have accomplished!

            On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 12:22 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I think Kattappa’s moral duty doesn’t allow him to directly go against orders. But if there are no orders, he will let himself bend a little. So he couldn’t actually kill himself and reveal the plot. But he could try very hard to get someone else to kill him, which he does, begging Amarendra to leave him, and not trying very hard to free himself from his bonds until the last minute.

            In the same way, he can bend the orders a little bit to say that he has the right to free Devasena. But if she is fleeing, and he has direct orders to bring her back and protect the crown prince, he can’t go against that.

            On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 11:25 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • You make an excellent point about Kattappa’s intro in BB2. He specifically says, and with a lot of pride, that he is a dog and he can “sniff” things out.

            So, could it be that he loses this edge he used to have due to his guilt over having been the cause of the rift between Sivagami and Amarendra? Let’s not forget that everyone in the kingdom knows Kattappa gets incredible personal power too once Amarendra ascends. When that is no longer the case and he is publicly put down by Sivagami at the court, his position in the eyes of others also diminishes.

            He is completely unable to sniff out the trap laid out for Sivagami and Amarendra. Or maybe it is because Bajjala and Bhallala specifically designed their trap to take out all their opponents in one go- Sivagami, Amarendra, Kattappa, Devasena, Kumar Verma, the new baby! That’s something to explore in their character studies I guess.

            So Kattappa is the family doge (and I mean doge, lol) and that I why even his most horrible sins are overlooked by Mahendra and Devasena and the praja.

            Btw, did you notice you’re calling the character Amarendra now and not Prabhas 1? 😁

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          • I’m trying to be consistent with the posts in the comments 🙂 for these character studies, I am thinking of them less as they are performed by the actors and more as they were written and conceived in the script, no matter who is playing them, so I went with the character names. At least, I meant to, I may still slip a bit.

            I think Bijalla and Bhalla specifically designed a trap to get at their opponent’s blindsides. For Kattappa, that means keeping him out of it entirely. As we said, he is “like” family, but not actually family. And so when it comes to assassins in the royal bedchamber using the passageways only royalty know about, that is the exact situation he would not be part of. We see him in all the public places of the palace, but we never see him in a bedchamber (except for the Kuntala escape), that is the final line he cannot cross. And so Kattappa is presented with it as a fait accompli. Sivagami has already made her decision that Bahubali is guilty, Kattappa is not given a chance to examine the evidence.

            On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 11:49 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • @Asmita: Do you mind if I jump in? A lot of your points are really interesting.

            Re: Kattappa kind of losing his edge from the beginning of BB2 to the middle scene – I think this kind of ties into my theory that part of the struggle was a Kattappa v. Bijjala competition, and which means their relative positions depends on that of their sons/quasi-sons (so like you say, Amarendra’s fall means Kattappa’s fall from power, too, to a lesser extent) . So at the beginning, when Amarendra’s in power, Kattappa has this small, small window of power that he could have gone to Sivagami and told her about his suspicions but he doesn’t take it, because he is sent on his road trip almost immediately afterwards (isn’t it literally the next scene?). Then, when he returns, Bijjala/Bhalla/their supporters are in power, and any attempt to report this story to an already angry Sivagami will just raise questions of “why only tell this story now?” and seem like he’s just trying to get Amarendra back in power by discrediting Bhalla. So he sits back and hopes that Bhalla’s sense will overpower Bijjala’s evilness, not knowing that Bhalla is the one calling the shots, not Bijjala….

            Re: Amarendra not talking to Sivagami–Totally agree in how quite a few of his actions come off as sketchy when taken out of the context (and why I can see Sivagami’s reasoning for ordering his death; it’s awful, but I can understand it in a way Kattappa’s reasoning is less logical to me), but I don’t know if I agree if there’s anything more he’s dismissive of her feelings and not doing enough to talk to her? We don’t see much of those few months in between, he definitely could have tried–but I imagine, it went like the part in the baby shower and the coronation where he tries to greet her and she walks straight by him, ignoring any attempt at conversation. Plus, Sivagami, when she’s angry, doesn’t seem the sort of listen to any reasoned arguments; Devasena and Kattappa both try, and it’s like talking to a wall and just makes her angrier. At the moment, the only thing that she would have accepted is Amarendra either agreeing not to marry Devasena, or once the marriage had occurred, publicly stating that Sivagami was right and Devasena was wrong (I don’t mean taking a tactful approach of: “well, the manner in which she said it was wrong and hurtful” but rather acknowledging that Sivagami had every right to dictate Devasena’s marriage for her without her consent) – either way, abandoning Devasena, which wasn’t going to happen.

            Amarendra, as her son, would know that, so I figure his game plan of “give her time to cool off” wasn’t actually trying to minimize/ignore her hurt feelings (he calls after her too at the baby shower, after all) but rather waiting it out until the point where his explanations would do some good instead of falling on deaf ears. And I actually didn’t see him as actually literally thinking a grandchild was going to fix everything–I interpret that as more him making a understated joke, almost, to reassure Devasena, and also flirt/redirect the conversation, because well, it’s his wedding night?

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      • @Avani: Hey, the more, the merrier!

        re: Your theory of alliances- I agree. there are multiple power centres that are all set to form with the ascension of either prince. Bajjala has more to lose with his son not having the top post than Kattappa though. Kattappa always has the “I’m a slave and I’m fine being powerless” excuse to hide behind which Bajjala just does not have.

        Kattappa also has made himself indispensable with his personal power, which includes the position he enjoyed under Sivagami as reagent (heck, sivagami owes her life and power to Kattappa’s valour and skill and the loyalty he commands amongst the royal troops/guards). In a way, even Bajjala owes his life and position to Kattappa too which is why he has no option but to accept sass from a slave!

        Even in BB2, we see Kattappa around, in the core kingsguard. Of all the sycophants they could employ, Bhallala and Bajjala have found no alternative to Kattappa even when he’s 80! That may be because Kattappa also represents his caste/family and the other side of their vow to be slaves to the Crown is that the Crown always assures members of this family a certain position in court.

        RE: “Devasena and Kattappa both try, and it’s like talking to a wall and just makes her angrier. ”

        I couldn’t find a single instance of Devasena “trying”. If anything, Devasena inflames the situation further. In the baby shower scene, where her anger and words should have been directed at Bhallala (she should have questioned him for enacting a decree he was legally entitled to pass without consulting anyone!), she only verbally assaults Sivagami who had no authority to act in that particular situation. That, to me, is Devasena acting like a ganwar who doesn’t know how laws and jurisdictions work! In that scene, Devasena carries over the prejudice she had against Sivagami from their previous meetings, but we judge Sivagami for having the same prejudices! That’s unfair.

        My theory is that, in a normal world, Amarendra would at some point after the wedding and coronation, take Sivagami aside and have a word with her. Ask for forgiveness for how things happened and profess his love for Devasena and his undying loyalty to her and say the things that a guy would say to his mother when he’s married someone his mother dislikes. She as reagent and he as Head of the Armed Forces must surely have had multiple formal meetings between the coronation and the baby shower.

        Let’s not forget that it was Devasena that insulted Sivagami and the onus of initiating a reconciliation is on Amarendra and not his mother.

        Amarendra should also have sat his wife down and told her, dude, you cant go around talking to my mother like that. There’s better ways of being assertive with her without resorting to name calling (and Devasena does PLENTY of name calling with Sivagami and Sivagami alone). I’ll tell you how to handle her. Also, maybe cool your tone a bit. You’re the General’s wife now. Let’s get you diplomacy lessons.

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        • Sorry for the late reply!
          Re: alliances. Definitely; I love, too, that we kind of always see the same faces around Bijjala/Bhalla, even if they aren’t named/given backstories, but would have definitely benefited from Bhalla’s ascendance, just as Amarendra’s supporters (if he had any specific ones? Other than Kattappa?) might find themselves more in favor. And Bhalla, in particular, seems to have favored logrolling/quid pro quo with his followers; I mean, we don’t get any explicit description of Sethupathi being incompetent except from an angry Devasena, but honestly, the fact that he stands there while Devasena reaches over, grabs his own knife, and cuts off his fingers; then just shrilly calls for her to be arrested does not exactly inspire me with confidence about either his fighting or leadership abilities.

          Re: Devasena at the baby shower. I’d argue she is nice and polite at the start: she smiles and stands when Sivagami enters and looks willing to be perfectly cordial. Sivagami’s the one who behaves badly from the start, doesn’t let her say hello, and gives her the world’s half-hearted blessing before walking off without waiting for a response. And Devasena pretty much puts up with it. But when it comes to Bhalla’s decision, I think it comes down to the concept of “Sivagami hiding behind the laws” that Margaret’s talked about before. Yeah, Sivagami can say that technically the King has the power to make appointments, but in practice? Everyone, in-universe and out-of-universe, knows that if Sivagami put her foot down, Bhalla would have let Amarendra stay commander-in-chief. That said, does Sivagami have a political reason for removing Amarendra from the post? Absolutely, for the reasons you point out, and also, Amarendra is in sole command of the armed forces, the backbone of the Mahishmati throne, and father of the heir when the King isn’t even married yet. He has a ridiculous amount of power that is clearly destabilizing Bhalla’s throne, without taking into account his general popularity. But from Devasena’s perspective, Amarendra’s clearly the best person for the job and Sivagami’s just giving this pathetic excuse in response, and Devasena isn’t going to let Sivagami evade taking responsibility for that. (As for not confronting Bhalla: while typing this, I just realized that as far as I remember, I think Devasena doesn’t say a single word to Bhalla in the entire movie, even in the earlier scenes when she’s not his captive. I wonder if that’s not intentional, to emphasize the total disconnect between them on her part.)

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          • And the same Sivagami doesnt wait before jumping in and exiling Amarendra and Devasena after the head cut incident, citing an insult to the throne, when technically it is the King who needs to address the insult to the throne by Amarendra-Devasena duo.

            Re: Devasena at the baby shower. Devasena initially also puts up with Sivagami cold shouldering Amarendra as he greets her and then Bijjala telling Amarendra that he doesnt have the rights to call her mother anymore.

            It is sort of weird that she rejects Amarendra for having gone against her, is OK with the commander in chief position taken away from him but still wants his child to be the heir so as to secure the family line (perhaps till the time Bhalla is married and gets a boy). Hmm.

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          • I wonder if, somewhere in the back of her mind, Sivagami was thinking that she would keep the baby in the line of inheritance, and physically in the palace, and therefore be able to raise/influence it. If she pictures swooping in right after birth and taking the baby for daily Dharma lessons and everything else. But Devasena and Amarendra’s later actions clearly showed that they were strong enough to control their own child and she would not be able to take it from them.

            On Tue, Jul 4, 2017 at 11:03 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • She would always have Bhallala’s kid to do that. She has no authority to keep or not keep any of the children in the line of inheritance.

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          • Oh sure, for the inheritance part of it, but keeping them living in the palace (which seems to be the case) and attending the baby shower and all got me thinking if she was also planning to maintain her status as sort of teacher of the children in how to be a good royal person, even though this child would have both its parents.

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          • Then why banish them? Doesn’t that disrupt the plan? They’re entitled to live in the palace as a royal couple. Sivagami can’t chuck them out unless they’ve committed a crime. Which they do. And that’s when they get thrown out. For all intents and purposes, we can assume that they live in different palaces or different apartments in a single palace and hence have very little interaction on a daily basis. Either of them would have to make a huge effort to go see the other. And that is generally the case with most royal/noble families.

            Attending the baby shower is a formal social event. We see the Kuntala RF having travelled specially for it. Since the royal couple had fallen out of favor with the QM BUT were not not disowned (yet) by the Crown (Sivagami couldn’t do that, it wasn’t within her jurisdiction to do so based on a personal slight to her alone) they were entitled to the presence of the QM, her husband, the king and other courtiers at the formal social event for their unborn child. Special seats were arranged for the royals as would happen in any formal event where protocol is followed. It wasn’t just a family and friends affair. This is a monarchy and even they need to follow set protocols and observe rules of conduct.

            As for the teaching part, the Princes were taught by their mother the reagent as well as scholars and specialists. We don’t know if Sivagami taught them things as reagent alone or just as any other mother with a professional expertise would.

            As grandmother to the child, she has rights to see the child. As current QM, even more so. If Amarendra and Devasena believe being taught statecraft by someone who’s had more than 25 years of experience in the field is an advantage for their child in the future, they would certainly send the child to be educated by her. If they’d rather not expose the child to the bitterness that remains unresolved between them, they’re entitled to making a decision for their own child.

            Although in the event that we do have bahubali and family living in the same palace as Sivagami post birth, we should assume that he’d want his child to know his mother even if it is done as a means to thaw the frost between them. And there’s no reason to believe a child wouldn’t melt her heart especially when it comes with a sincere effort to reconnect from Amarendra.

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          • As I saw it, the banishment removed them entirely from the royal family, including their heirs.

            But until that point, them being part of the royal family meant that even if Sivagami was angry with them as a mother/mother-in-law, she would still do her duty by their child and would want to keep them within the general family grounds in her position as Queen Mother/female head of the family. This is pure speculation, but I assume if they had not been banished, she would have maintained the same minimal interaction with Amarendra and Devasena that was required because of her position, and their places as part of the royal family. But perhaps their child would have been seen as “sinless” by her, and it is interesting to consider what kind of relationship she might have developed with Mahendra separate from his parents if they had stayed in the palace.

            On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 9:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • The specific wording of the punishment said that they needed to be banished from the royal palace as they were at that moment. Sivagami proclaims Mahendra as king and then tells Bhallala that they would be tried in the town square for their crime.

            As QM, she has the right to pick an heir to an empty throne from all legitimate heirs. Mahendra is a legitimate heir whose status is unaffected by the banishment of his parents from palace grounds. They aren’t banished from the kingdom.

            With Bhallala on the verge of trial and execution/incarceration for conspiracy and murder, he would no longer be a monarch legally.

            Banishment of the Bahubali family was just from the palace grounds so it wasn’t a removal from the line of inheritance. Had it been so, they wouldn’t need to kill Amarendra. Even if we assume he was a coup risk and needed to be killed to ensure he doesn’t sieze power illegally with the help of the public, his newborn son wouldn’t have had a claim over the throne had its parents’ banishment affected his status in the line of inheritance. That, to me, sort of clarified Mahendra’s claim that Bajjala specifically asks for the murder of that child.

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          • I was seeing Sivagami’s declaration of Mahendra as the heir as bypassing all legal systems. Erasing Amarendra’s banishment/removal from the line, and thereby putting his son back in line for the throne.

            On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 9:32 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That would make it a plot hole. Sivagami not having any accountability for her actions means she can overrule herself with Devasena’s proposal and just “give her” to Amarendra. Plot hole.

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          • I saw that whole last sequence as kind of a Gotterdammerung moment. Sivagami is just making decrees for the heck of it (not really, but you know what I mean). The situation is so extreme that she is reversing herself in a way she never would in other circumstances. And part of that is this wild declaration of the baby as heir, compared to in the last generation when she held off on making a decision until the children were grown. And made that declaration in court, not just announcing it from a balcony directly to the people.

            On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 12:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • She needs to make the announcement on the balcony to protect the child. Because she just realized, thanks to kattappa’s revelations, that the King had a false flag attack organised and had his royal cousin, father of the future heir, assassinated. Legally, she declares the next course of action- a public trial for the King! In a public square! Meaning, his charges would be read out and he’d be executed as per Mahishmati laws (high treason towards the Crown, conspiracy against the QM, abuse of power, assassination, etc).

            Sivagami, in the moment on the balcony, is effectively using her jurisdiction to strip Bhallala of the title and since the throne is vacant, naming an heir. Also, she is stripping herself of her own title too! With Mahendra king, Devasena is QM!!

            Legally, for her role in Amarendra’s assassination, Sivagami could also face punishment. If the succession is secured and they have a new QM as reagent, Sivagami can face a trial herself.

            I guess i’ve been too deep in the ASOIAF fandom where laws of the land and who has what jurisdiction is extremely crucial to the enjoyment of the story. 😁

            Like Monika Geller says “Rules help control the fun!”

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          • See, I am all about “laws don’t matter, it’s about people” in my interpretation of stuff. What I love about the Bahubali universe is that it works both ways.

            For me, I saw that scene as entirely about the personal. Sivagami suddenly sees that her daughter-in-law is a better person than her, and that she has betrayed her son. In order to make up for her mistake, she declares the baby as the next ruler. Which tells the people that she has made a mistake, and shows her trust in Devasena. And opens herself up for judgement of her own guilt. I mean, she touched Devesana’s feet, she was already kind of acknowledging that she should be punished.

            But the same things are true if you look at it from the legal side of things! Like you said, giving Devasena authority as Queen Mother, making Sivagami’s actions in killing Amarendra illegal, all of that. Only I always tend to focus on the personal, where it is just about mother-in-law, son, daughter-in-law, grandson.

            On Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 1:14 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Sivagami actually consults the mahamantri on what the law is. She doesn’t pronounce the punishment on her own and neither does the king. In-universe, a criminal trial is the jurisdiction of the King and crimes, including sedition, committed from members of the Royal family, fall within the jurisdiction of the Queen Mother. Even then she uses the Mahishmati constitution to decide a punishment.

            Again, Sivagami is not responsible for what her husband tells Amarendra. Devasena acted like a bitch to Sivagami and Sivagami returns the favor with only a cold shoulder. I don’t understand why people expect QM Sivagami to greet the wife of the head of the armed forces with reverence/respect when the woman has misbehaved with her personally. Do we, in the real world, greet younger relatives who misbehave with us, with kisses and smiles at family functions? DO WE? Usually we skip the function to avoid unpleasantness. Sivagami sure should have. Ill mannered Devasena attacks her for something she didn’t do at all. Dafaq Devasena?!

            Re the heir situation, Mahishmati constituency promises a chance at the throne to every prince born to sons of previous kings. Sivagami isn’t making a personal choice there. Amarendra is the son of a King and his child has a shot at the throne. Interestingly enough, when that child (Mahendra) ascends, Devasena is QM. So whatever power we’re robbing Sivagami of halfway in the story is also the power and jurisdiction we’re no longer allowed to give to Devasena when she’s QM.

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          • We do see Setupathi offering to behead Kattappa in the Bhallala/Bajjala intro in BB2. So he’s likely a member of the royal guard that got promoted to diss Amarendra. He’s Bhallala’s dog like Kattappa is Amarendra’s.

            Re Sivagami/Devasena at the baby shower: This is going to be one of those agree to disagree things. If we’re analysing characters using in-universe rules and conditions, we’ve got to use in-universe laws to judge their actions too.

            Bhallala knows his jurisdiction and he hurts Sivagami, Devasena and Amarendra (and Kattappa) where it hurt using the laws he had the power to execute without his authority in doing so being questioned. Amarendra had already set a precedent where Sivagami’s word could be undermined. Even if she were to question Bhallala’s decision, she could be overruled on the grounds that –
            a) It’s not within her jurisdiction to make appointments in the military ranks once a king has ascended. She had that power as reagent but not as Queen Mother when a King is present.
            2) Her word stopped having gravity the moment Amarendra decided he could tell her she was wrong. At the baby shower, she is genuinely shocked that her appointment for the third most powerful position in the land has been overturned. She has been rendered powerless in that scene by Bhallala. Her son the king fired a guy she appointed while telling her very specifically that has lost the power she once had.

            So even if by some interpretation of the law Sivagami could have asked Bhallala to reconsider his decision to fire Amarendra, he could have very early said “No, you’re wrong, Mom!” And nobody could have done anything about it like they could do nothing when Amarendra flouted her executive order when she was still reagent.

            Sivagami doesn’t have the moral or legal responsibility for the actions of the King. She has a very specific jurisdiction. We see that when Bhallala tells Bajjala that the order to execute Amarendra needs to come from Sivagami. Meaning a rajyadesh to be binding on the leader of the special forces needs to come from the QM. The King doesn’t control the special forces and that is why he couldn’t fire Kattappa when he was firing Amarendra.

            Devasena has no right to expect Sivagami to greet her with a hug and a smile given how she treated Sivagami the last time they met. That’s a young child’s expectation that you can be as rude to someone as you want but the next time they see you, when YOU’RE in a better mood, they should be happy to see you! In no known universe inhabiting adults does that happen. 😁

            I feel in-universe laws and constitutions are crucial to dramatic tension within epics. If we’re going to be too flexible with them then we lose a lot of what the story hinges on.

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  4. Oh, Kattappa 😦 You know, I remember really pushing for him to be freed by the end of the movie as part of the logical end to his character arc (and part of me still really, really wants that for him!) but after having written a character study fic that got into his mindset, I think I agree with you that that would be almost impossible. It’s almost like– given the Harry Potter references above–when we find out about house elves, and pretty much every reader goes off on a Hermione-Inspired “save the house elves!” moral crusade….until we see the house-elves who are used to servitude and can’t break free of it the way Dobby has, particularly in the way Winky is freed and emotionally shatters. Honestly, I think now that if Kattappa was freed at the end of the movie by Devasena and Mahendra/Shivudu, he would just assume it was because he was no longer worthy of his post,rather than because slavery is wrong and he doesn’t deserve to suffer in it, and die out of mingled guilt and misery or something.

    As I see it, the only person who maybe would have had a shot of breaking Kattappa out of his self-imposed servitude would have been Amarendra if he had become king, and that too only after years and years. Mostly because it’s only around Amarendra that Kattappa relaxes and allows himself to have normal human relationships; I see the little sightseeing/Kuntala trip as the happiest point of Kattappa’s life because I think it’s the only time he let himself indulge in the fantasy of Amarendra really being the nephew he claimed him to be. I know we talked about Kattappa still kind of functioning as a loyal servant, but it struck me that well, it would also be socially appropriate for Kattappa as an older male relative to negotiate a match for his nephew, if that makes sense? (Almost like the trailers for Mubarakan are suggesting, the bachelor uncle playing wingman for his nephew, but also acting as a respectable intermediary for the girl’s family, too.) And then they return to Mahishmati and all of this is over; we see Amarendra and Kattappa standing separately in the court scenes hereafter and there’s no prolonged scene of them together until the bad one. There’s a bit of a return to this at Devasena’s baby shower (the little oasis of happy Kuntala-ness we get in the second half), where Kattappa is the one directing all the maids on where to put everything. I guess it could partly be him functioning as a butler (?) but we never see him taking any interest in that sort of thing at any other time; instead, again, he comes off as a fussy older male relative, representing Amarendra’s side of the family because they haven’t shown up yet. IIRC, I think Devasena’s sister-in-law is maybe giving similar orders on the other side? And I wonder if that wasn’t what Devasena isn’t responding to when she asks him to be the baby’s grandfather, the way he is clearly taking on the role of Amarendra’s family while pretending to only be a servant. Except like you say, it’s too much for him, and he spirals out into putting himself back in the servile category once more.

    Ooh, finally, I don’t know if you wanted to talk about this in the Bijjaladeva post or here, but the quiet, consistent competition/cold war between them is fascinating to me. (I still haven’t read Rise of Sivagami yet; I know that touches more on the background, but I’m going to just use movie canon here for my ease.) Particularly since if asked outright, I’m sure Kattappa would deny it, but it’s so obvious, particularly in the way both of them use their sons (or surrogate sons) as their primary weapons in it. It’s probably the darkest thing Kattappa does, and unlike the murder, I don’t think he ever even consciously realizes he’s doing it.

    I’d argue you can see the beginnings of it even in the first movie. Even in Sivagami’s introductory scene, when she gets on the throne and Kattappa is standing to her left, immediately in front of the maidservant who we later realize must be holding baby Amarendra. Sivagami’s got baby Bhalladeva in her arms and when Bijjala shows up and talks about him, the camera closes with tight focus on the two of them, which I interpreted as the audience becoming primed to pair Kattappa & Amarendra and Bijjala & Bhalladeva from the start. And you see this lineup repeated even more blatantly when you consider the tactics meeting for the Kalakeya war: it’s clearly Amarendra and Kattappa on one side of the map, Bhalla and Bijjala on the other; Sivagami in the middle, with both pairs competing just as much for her approval and affection as for the throne. And I wonder if that wasn’t the way things were, for most of Amarendra’s and Bhalla’s childhood, with both Kattappa and Bijjala maybe pushing both of them towards the throne, challenging to be better than the other (though I think they would have had a bit of healthy competition no matter what), leading them to think of the throne as what they deserved. Kattappa, sweet soul that he is, wouldn’t have done it with Bijjala’s maliciousness, but it’s hard to ignore that Kattappa is the one freaking out about Bijjala/Bhalla taking all the good weapons during the Kalakeya fight, this is so unfair, while Amarendra doesn’t…really seem bothered? And the scene between them at the very beginning, where Kattappa shuts up Bijjala with the most rudeness we EVER see him showing towards a member of the royal family –I can’t help but see an element of “ha ha, my son won and yours didn’t” smugness to Kattappa’s demeanor around Bijjala on top of the confidence that knowing that he is in the morally superior position. I don’t know; am I just reading too much into this? Or making Kattappa way too subconsciously dark? I hate to put Kattappa in the same category as clearly-living-through-his-son Bijjala (and again, I think it was never anything explicitly done, or for any other gain than wanting to get the better of Bijjala after a lifetime of abuse) , but it’s where that particular reading is leading me!

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    • -That’s the same journey I went on! As you know, I suggested an ending scene in which Kattappa offers to die for his sins, and instead is freed, which would nicely resolve the central scene of the films, Kattappa killing Amarendra. But really digging into his character for this post, I realized that wouldn’t work at all. He wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he were “free”. Because he has no “self”, everything is secondary to his service.

      -I suppose we could have a little alternative fanfic version where Amarendra always planned to free Kattappa. Ever since he was a child, he knew that slavery was wrong. And so he befriended Kattappa and slowly worked on him until he softened and became more and more “human”. And then the grand finale was going to be freeing Kattappa, along with all over slaves in the kingdom if there are any, by royal decree once he was king. Because even if that wasn’t his conscious plan, it was what was happening. We can see how as a child he instinctively rejected slavery, and how he was always encouraging of Kattappa’s little “human” moments.

      -Really interesting to see it as Bijjala versus Kattappa! I always saw it as Bhalla versus Amarendra, with Kattappa supporting Amarendra and Bijjala supporting Bhalla. The sons rivalry being the main one. But you are right, over and over we see Bijjala set against Kattappa and vice versa. I could see it as starting over Sivagami. Not romantically, but both men revolve around her. Kattappa through his service to her and Bijala through his resentment of her. Kattappa wants her to remain his perfect independent Queen, Bijala wants her to change and listen to him. And then in the next generation, the rivalry shifts, both men wanting their sons to “win” Sivagami’s approval.

      On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 4:40 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • – It’s like the Sivagami problem all over again! I can’t imagine what a Kattappa who was free would do with himself; even if Amarendra or whoever had managed to free him without it completely shattering his psyche, I can only picture him doing the exact thing, with the same amount of humility/deference.

        – I love that idea! And he does definitely encourage it, Kattappa even before his Kuntala disguise as uncle, is just so much more critical and familiar with Amarendra than any servant should be; even taking into consideration that Kattappa was Amarendra’s guru, I can’t see say, Bhalla, allowing Kattappa to grouse about how his concentration was off, and how Kattappa almost died because of it, etc. etc.

        – To me, Sivagami is the focal point of the triangle/competition, for both generations, for exactly the same reason you mention. And I guess my reason for suspecting it started with the older generation is because at the beginning of Mamatalla Talli, Bhalla and Amarendra don’t seem like they’re competing in particular; both of them are just going about their business, in sharp contrast to when they’re grown, where being king is a high enough priority in their minds that even Amarendra, who doesn’t care as much about it, jokes about it with Bhalla. I can’t shake the feeling that Sivagami would only have raised them to be the best that they could be, so I figure that initial push to be king needed to come from external forces, not so much internal. Later on, though, Amarendra’s driven to it because he wants to help people/has innate leadership skills, while Bhalla winds up associating the throne with acceptance/satisfaction, but that comes later.

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        • -Yes, exactly! Kattappa doesn’t have any dreams for himself, or even the ability to create dreams for himself. All he can imagine is service. He might feel more able to give honest advice and refuse orders once he is “free”, but otherwise his life would be the same.

          -I don’t know if I am convinced that it was a whole well thought out plan to slowly build up Kattappa’s confidence before freeing him, but I do think Amarendra is a sensitive enough person to understand Kattappa’s underlying issues, and a kind enough person to try to build him up a bit without even thinking about it. And I also really can’t see Amarendra being happy with slavery, so I think he would have freed Kattappa eventually. I bet Shivudu will eventually too. Only, at the moment we leave him in the films, he still doesn’t even fully understand what slavery is and how Kattappa feels and all that. But give him 6 months to get familiar with things, and I see him impulsively freeing Kattappa and trying to force him to be happy. Oh oh! Another Pacha Bottasi song! But with Kattappa. And really, no joke, we see how Shivudu reacts to these stunted unhappy people who only see duty through how he helps Avantika. There’s no slow building of confidence and convincing, he just barrels ahead and forces it.

          -Although, we also see in childhood how Bahubalia loves Sivagami more and vice versa, even as children. Although Bhalla doesn’t seem to mind it at the time. But that doesn’t really go against your thought, it just means that Kattappa and Bijalla saw the situation of Sivagami and Bahubali’s closeness versus Bhalla and exploited it.

          On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 7:34 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • -Skipping to point number two, because I agree absolutely with point one: Oh, no, definitely not a conscious plan on Amarendra’s part–heck, even in the universe where he becomes king and does free Kattappa, I see him going about it sneakily, encouraging him to rest now that he’s older, giving him softer duties, allowing him to speak his opinion in court publicly instead of only in private, t’d before Kattappa knows it, he’s spending his time in a cushy retirement, playing with his grandchildren, wheel Amarendra quietly outlaws slavery without making a big deal about it.
            – I can absolutely see Shivudu doing that when he finds out and really understands the effects of slavery and I kind of worry about it. Because the forcing-people-to-be-happy-and-free approach works with Avantika (who is younger and at least can conceptualize what it is like to be free of duty), but I don’t think it would work for Kattappa, especially not when Kattappa has twenty-five years of additional guilt and shame and being under Bhalla/Bijjala’s thumb (so as to completely undo any progress that Amarendra made). I honestly think if Shivudu tried, Kattappa would fall apart, so I hope Devasena talks him out of it.
            – No, definitely, she loves him better, but I guess kid Bhalla doesn’t seem to care? Like, we never see a reaction shot of him looking back at Amarendra and Sivagami as she gives him his sword or in that scene where she’s feeding one of them and not the other, or anything like that; but you’re right, that probably is the sort of thing that Bijjala and/or Kattappa kind of brought up as they got older.

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          • -Amarendra could even cheat a little by giving Kattappa an order like “I order you to teach my son like you taught me” and then “I order you to tell my son bedtime stories” and so on and so forth until order by order it just turns into Kattappa being a real person instead of a master of the guard.

            -See I think that’s kind of where the “love” comes in with Shivudu and Avantika. He is stripping her of her duty and everything that gives her purpose, but then offering her love in return. Maybe a version that would work with Kattappa is to free him, and then immediately hand him a baby or something, replace his previous obsession with a new one. Heck, give him a dog! Just like all those empty-nesters/retirees.

            -Yeah, I could see Bhalla not caring as a kid, but once he starts to see that parental love comes with other stuff, it’s not just Sivagami not loving him, but it also affects the stuff he gets and the status he has, that’s when he starts to care. Although, I think that’s also how it happens in real life a lot of the time. As little kids, you just sort of accept things like that (say, your brother gets away with more stuff than you), and then as you start to get older, the injustice and bitterness works away at you. I’m thinking of like a Dear Zindagi situation.

            On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 8:10 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • None of them would know what to do with themselves without their official roles. We don’t see Amarendra breaking out of it at all, neither Devasena. So in this universe you don’t move on from what you thought you were gonna do for the rest of your life. Only Mahendra does that and even he was looking at a life of being a tribal chieftain after a life of fun and frolic.

          I’m working on the theory that Bhallala is a somewhat tragic character who didn’t get the kind of love Amarendra got and it fucked up his mind. Him not having a Kattappa mama of his own feels very sad to me given how he basically has a whiny bitch for a father and an emotionally distant mother.

          I think we never really talk about personality types when it comes to Amarendra and Bhallala. Bhallala totally looks like an introvert who’s lived in the shadow of his younger, more flamboyant cousin all his life. Amarendra can go talk to people and get loved (he can cute his way) in a way that shy, awkward, introverted Bhallala can’t even imagine. He longs to be loved but he thinks people love Amarendra because he’s gonna be king. He doesn’t Amarendra “We’ll see!” when he says “You’ll be my General when I’m King” because in his head Bhallala is already convinced that Amarendra would be king because he’s flamboyant.

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          • Just leaping in to say, Bhalla post going up today! And I get into that a little, how Bhalla was warped by his parents but wasn’t innately “bad”.

            Also, again, this is what I am enjoying in my fanfic! A different version of him, still introverted, but humble and kind of shy.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I think it’s a generational thing? Sivagami and Kattappa can’t move on from their roles as they see them: Queen Mother and slave to Mahishmati respectively. Bijjala can’t break free of his resentment that he was refused the throne even though it happened years and years ago.

            Amarendra and Devasena are a bit more flexible, though: both of them are far more comfortable with losing their thrones (Amarendra obviously, but Devasena was clearly being set up to rule Kuntala, which she gives up as well) and they’re perfectly fine with going to living among the villagers, whereas, if they’d really been unable to move on from ruling, they could have just gone to Kuntala, where Devasena still had the clear right to the throne. Yeah, they’re invested in helping people and just kind of instinctively take leadership roles, but at that point, it comes down to personality, too. I think it was Margaret that said during one of the scene-by-scenes, that if say, Amarendra had been born among the regular village people, he probably still would taken a similar leadership role among them just because of his personality. (I think so? Am I making this up?)

            Definitely think Bhalla was molded by his parents, but on Amarendra’s side, I would point out that yeah, Bhalla’s parents suck, but he has a right to them that Amarendra doesn’t. So, yeah, Sivagami loves him more, but he’s never able to shake the fact that he’s not really hers (and well, in canon, the first time he goes against her, she’s rejecting him); and Bijjala outright hates him. So I’d argue that while his gregariousness and ease with making friends is just natural personality, it’s also necessary for his survival and emotional support, because Amarendra just doesn’t have that built-in support system that Bhalla does. (But I readily agree that I’m biased because characters like Amarendra, who are just plain Good without being cloying, are so rare in fiction that I tend to favor them, even while having a villain as complex and interesting as Bhalla; and besides, I’m also one of those weird people who prefers Superman to Batman.)

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          • I hear you about Amarendra. I do see him being a natural introvert who got more love also because people felt bad that he was orphaned.

            I don’t think he’s an all-good character though. I see him as being on the good spectrum with emotionally manipulative streaks. He’s also kind of oblivious to his brother’s feelings. How is that that this guy who can connect with random people so instinctively doesn’t have his brother’s feelings figured out?

            We know he likes to lay elobrate traps (Kuntala adventure) to get what he wants while he essentially toys with people because he’s so assured of his control over the situation. There’s no reason to assume he is so black and white that he didn’t have Bhallala figured out. He did. He just didn’t think too highly of his awkward, introverted (possibly gay) older cousin/brother. I don’t think his “You’ll be my General” comment was jest and bantering between brothers. It was Amarendra being cocky.

            And none of this is bad at all. It’s cool confidence in one’s power of persuasion. Besides, who doesn’t love a good bad who can be bad if needed?

            I’m reading Sivagami Katha and it’s super interesting. I guess some of these older characters would get easier to decipher once the universe is fully established within the franchise.

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          • Definitely agree that Amarendra’s definitely more interesting when he’s not 100% squeaky clean! But I dunno, definitely agree that he can be manipulative as in the Kuntala trip, but it’s not quite “toying with everyone” for me because Devasena is so aware of what’s going on, pretty much right off the bat. (In contrast, there’s say, the movie 24, where the time-traveling hero literally makes the heroine believe she’s in love with him/hallucinating him because of some outrageously ridiculous medical condition by abusing his powers and she believes it and pretty much gleefully uses his powers to get his own way all the time, without consequences. That’s sort of more what I think of when it comes to “toying with.”) But he’s definitely got Bhalla’s number, I think, by the time of Devasena’s trial; and I will also offer it up as interesting that despite the fact that Bhalla is clearly the older, Amarendra calls him by name rather than “older brother” as one would expect him to.

            And I think Amarendra at least tries to be considerate of Bhalla’s feelings! (I think whether or not the “you’ll be my general” statement is a joke will just have to be an agree-to-disagree thing. Although it is definitely a little cocky:) )At the end of BB1, when Sivagami announces him the king, he doesn’t go forward before he gives Bhalla a “are-you-okay-with-this” look and Bhalla indicates yes, which is a darn lot more than Bhalla does both times he is ( or thinks he will be) announced as king. And when it comes to reassuring Bhalla, I just…don’t know how much Amarendra could go, given that Bhalla just doesn’t open up to anyone, or accept help easily. I just–can’t see a heart-to-heart helping, you know? At a certain point, even if Amarendra did catch on that Bhalla was awkward and unhappy, I think he’d have to just throw up his hands and hope Bhalla would figure it out himself.

            (Thank you for this conversation, btw! It’s actually really interesting discussing viewpoints that don’t necessarily agree with mine, and I’m really enjoying it 🙂 )

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s this universe you know. It’s got so much potential. It can be anything you want it to be and it still has room to be something someone else would want. I’m not like dissatisfied or something when someone else doesn’t see it how I see it at all. But yeah the conversation does get delicious around this film doesn’t it?

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    • Re: Kattappa’s chains. Well, nobody is free of them in this universe. The chains Kattappa wears are inherited just like the status inherited by the Mahishmati RF.

      Even after his banishment, Amarendra cannot break free of his sense of servitude to Mahishmati. Neither can Devasena who is a Kuntala princess and can rightfully return to her Kingdom and raise her child there.

      That being said, Kattappa’s slave status is almost a part of his lore. I’m not really sure what the backstory of his ancestors’ vow is but clearly they must have been important enough in the court to voluntarily take an oath like that and for that oath to have some weight. Like imagine an ordinary farmer taking an oath like that. Higher ups would be like, ok cool! But it won’t be that big a deal. So it’s safe to assume Kattappa’s ancestors had been some kinda big deal. And to take an oath that specifically ties the family to service of the crown and not individuals in the royal family means the lineage might have royal blood somewhere in the family tree.

      So, my theory is that the slave status for his family is created to keep them close to the crown without being a coup risk. Something like the Kingsguard order in A Song of Ice and Fire universe.

      There are prohibitions like you can’t live in a fancy house, own servants and material goods and marry aristocracy AND they’ve got to be loyal to whoever has the crown legally.

      Kattappa clearly transcended his station through his professional service. He’s close to Sivagami and he’s close to Amarendra. Even Bhallala as king can’t get rid of him. And that bitch got rid of his own mother!!!

      Another interesting bit is that Kattappa calls Amarendra “Bahu” which only Sivagami and Bhallala call him. Kattappa also calls Sivagami by her name after the assassination which indicates familial relations there too.

      Amarendra “freeing” Kattappa does nothing for him. At 50, and at that stage of his career, it only maybe gets him a better house and servants and a wife from a wealthy family. The “freeing” thus affects only the next generation of his family.

      Kattappa’s slave status and his actual position in court/army/RF also reference the modern caste system where you can rise above your birth caste but also not really.

      Again, maybe we need to wait for the Rajamaoli-approved Kattappa novel to really understand the original oath and why it was given.

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    • I really like the Kattappa vs Bijjala competition. While he did lose initially with his son-like nephew Baahu losing his throne, getting executed, grandson Mahendra presumed dead, and daughter Devasena chained and tortured in front of his very eyes. But Kattappa eventually won against Bijjala-his grandson Mahendra not only kills Bijjala’s grandson Badra but also kills Bijjala’s son Bhalla and his grandson Mahendra is the one sitting on Mahishmati’s throne. And Kattappa gets to slap Bijjala too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I saw the tweet yesterday saying it was coming! And considered staying up for it, and then decided it wasn’t worth it.

      On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 6:56 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • @3:43 When Amarendra gives his food to the children, you can see Kumar Verma sitting so close with another woman. Kumar is seated behind Amarendra. Wonder if thats why he is always found hanging around Amarendra and Devasena…..fell in love.

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      • Good catch! And also, “awww, that’s sad!” He was killed just as his life was beginning!

        On Sun, Jul 2, 2017 at 12:25 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Wonderful post and comments. One thing to say to all of you. In an interview to a Telugu channel, Rajamouli said that he was not really satisfied with Baahubali 2, and the reason was that Prabhas’ scenes with Ramya and Rana in the second half, almost ten in number, were removed at the editing table because the length was about to cross 180 minutes (162 is the released one I guess). He hoped to retain scenes of Rana at least, and that too didn’t happen.

    Perhaps, the answers of many of our questions and doubts lie there, in those ten scenes. Who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

      • Really hoping they release a 4K UHD HDR Bluray collection which includes director commentary for B1 and a director’s cut and commentary for B2. If they throw in the Sivagami book as well I’d gladly part with like $40-50 for that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The blu-ray release of B1 was oddly spotty (I think only available in Hindi not Telugu or something like that?). But now you are giving me hope that the plan all along was to release the two films together in one very expensive high quality package.

          On Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 11:17 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Not sure about that but interestingly they officially made B1 available for free worldwide on their YouTube channel that too in 4k quality within like six months or so after theatrical release, something unheard of especially for that successful a film.

            Anyway even with a conservative estimate of say 100000 units of that package sold at $40, that’s a cool(even for them) and easy $4m for like a week’s work max for editor and director. Frankly it’d be a disservice to the overall product that they’ve so painstakingly created over five years if they don’t make it happen.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Me and my friends have a joke that if Rajamaoli wanted to make a BB3 he could he could do so without having to shoot for a single day! 😁

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