Bahubali Theme Post: Devasena, The Catalyst

Happy Monday!  After writing a very mean post about the Bahubali novel on Sunday, I thought I should write us a nice post about Devasena for contrast. (full index of Bahubali posts here)

Just putting it out there, I LOVE Devasena.  As does the majority of the audience of the film, I think.  However, I have at least two commentators who do not love her and see her as the villain of the film.  That’s 2 out of let’s say 10 regular Bahubali commentators.  So let’s say maybe 20% of the total audience is not into Devasena?  And yet they still love and obsess of the movie to the point of commenting on this website.  Which means that the film works equally well whether she is the hero or the villain, which is really interesting!

I think Devasena’s most important role in the film is catalyst. It’s not whether she herself is right or wrong, it’s whether the way people react to her is right or wrong.  But Devasena only works as a catalyst if she herself never reacts, never changes.

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(Okay, she gets older, but that’s it)

Which, for me, is what I love about her.  After all these female characters who constantly follow the hero’s lead, who are always worried about the family honor, who dedicate their lives to making things easier for others, to have someone who’s just straight up “Nah, I don’t care what you think or feel, I am Me and I am confident within myself.”

Although I can also see why some viewers might find her irritating.  It’s a fine line between “independent” and “selfish”.  I have disliked plenty of female characters because they don’t listen to anyone else, but also don’t seem to care about anyone else.  There’s no thought for the greater good.  It’s a fine line, to make someone who is supremely self-directed without being selfish.

What makes it harder with a female character is that the filmmaker has to be extra “loud” to make sure we get the message.  If we see a male hero like, say, Jai and Veeru in Sholay, we get right away that they don’t care what people think about them if they think they are in the right.  But that they do care in some way about doing the right thing.

But with a female heroine like, say, Sonam in Khoobsurat, she has to explicitly tell us over and over that she will not change for anyone, she is independent and happy with herself and so on.  And it’s not just in the dialogue, we see heroines proudly telling off waiters, or yelling at boys who follow them, all kinds of ways that the filmmakers try really hard to make sure we know what kind of woman/women this is.  And by seeing it over and over and over in 5 different ways, the audience ends up with a vision of this woman spending her days going from place to place getting offended and hurting people’s feelings.

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(I like her, but it would be easy to dislike her)

With Devasena, we do get a little of that.  Her first dialogue is to shame Amarendra and Kattappa for not joining in the fight.  Followed by a lowkey smile at the idea of Kumar Verma being able to teach them how to be warriors, making it look like she thinks she is better than all 3 men.

The hits keep coming, we see her almost ignore her sister-in-law in preference for trying to master a new arrow trick.  Go along with her maidens when they try to trap poor Kumar Verma in his lies, and finally set up poor Amarendra on very flimsy evidence to risk death confronting a bull single-handed.  And so on and so on.  Straight through to the moment when she refuses the proposal in the most insulting way possible and no one dares try to stop her.

Like I said, I like Devasena.  I am in the crowded “Devasena is AWESOME!” camp.  But even over here in the “ra-ra Devasena!” fanclub, we can acknowledge that she causes most of the problems in the narrative.  Or rather, conflicts in the narrative.

And I think, even over in the lonely brave “Devasena is TERRIBLE!” camp, they would need to acknowledge that the conflicts Devasena causes reveal weaknesses in other characters as well.  To put it another way, the conflicts she causes were ultimately conflicts that needed to occur.

Mahishmati, Sivagami, Kattappa, Amarendra, they were all too settled in their ways, they had lost the ability to grow.  Devasena was that kick in the butt that got them to start changing and growing.  It could have been something else, anything else.  A trade agreement, another attack, a surprising scientific discovery, a treasure map!

But none of those options would be very interesting.  I mean really, that’s what the Star Wars prequels did!  Instead of simple easy to understand human drama, they had this whole slow dissolution of the Senate and trade agreements and all kinds of silly things like that.

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(Okay, picture if we had a whole bunch of these scenes instead of Devasena and Amarendra falling in love)

Rajamouli is too smart to fall into that trap.  And so he makes the conflict that rearranges the loyalties of our central characters and puts them on a new path something that anyone can relate to, and that is exciting and dramatic and romantic-Amarendra falls in love with someone his mother hates.

One thing we’ve talked about a lot in the comments but I’m not sure if I ever put into a post is that Devasena causes a rift between Sivagami and Amarendra not because Amarendra is in love with her, but because of what she represents.  His love for her just got him to sit up and take notice.

Devasena (as those brave rebels in the “Devesana is terrible” camp will point out) is foolishly rude, and runs the risk of attack on her kingdom because of her pride.  And then she doubles down when in the thrown room in front of Sivagami.  And again at the baby shower.

However, even if you disagree with her, that still doesn’t mean you have to agree with Sivagami.  Sivagami is ready to punish her in a way that does not fit the crime.  And that is what Amarendra objects to.  Yes yes, it is very romantic that he does all this for the woman he loves.  But I sincerely believe that if Kumar Verma had in a moment of over-confidence sent a similarly insulting message, Amarendra would have defended him as well.  Not because he is in love with Kumar Verma (although I will bet you ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS that there is fanfic out there telling that version), but because he knows that no real harm was intended or possible from Kumar.  And therefore Sivagami’s judgement would reflect that.

As soon as Amarendra left Mahishmati to travel alone, primed to start thinking of himself as a ruler and what would make just rule, something was inevitably going to come between him and Sivagami.  The only question was what it would be.

And Devasena is the perfect catalyst for this!  Going back to my “selfish/self-directed” idea, the point is that no matter the situation she finds herself in, she is always herself.  The power of Mahishmati, the anger of Sivagami, even her love for Amarendra, it has no effect on what she is herself.  She will not bend, she will not mix in, she will not homogenize with the rest of the people around her.

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With her standing out as something different, the lines then become drawn around her.  Are you for Devasena or against her?  And what does being “for” Devasena mean?

I am a pre-Devasenaite, as I said.  But all the reasons I like her (unafraid to speak her mind, strong sense of what is right in any situation, smart, etc.) have nothing to do with why I am for her side of things.  Or why Amarendra is necessarily for her.  Or why the people rally to her later.

Devasena represents all those gray areas between “Law” and “Justice”.  Between “Justice” and “Dharma”.  Her argument is for a simpler cleaner better Mahishmati based on a clear sense of what is right and wrong, not just what is in the law books, or on the complex power dynamics of the royal family.  Amarendra is won over to her vision of things, slowly, by the situations she is constantly causing.  Rather than his mother’s vision which has become limited as the years went by.  Heck, I’ll make it simple, Devasena is for change.

Sivagami is against Devasena.  She is for staying the same or going backwards.  Probably not always.  But after 25 years of ruling, she wants to keep it as good as it is now.  Not risk any questions about how it might get better.  Devasena drives Sivagami ever further back from the best self she has grown into in order to keep things the same.  We can appreciate Sivagami’s feelings, why she is so hurt that her son would disagree with her, why she is so afraid of violent change or rebellion when she has worked so hard for stability.  But we can also see how this is the wrong choice.  The people who need to change most are also the ones most threatened by change.

And yes, this would include Devasena as well.  I don’t even want to think how Devasena would react to the idea that she could improve.  If you follow the “LOVE HER!” camp, we would argue that Devasena is so clear sighted, she would even see the flaws within herself and agree to change them.  If you follow the “HATE HER!” camp, you would say that it is a good thing she happened to be on the right side during the films, and the first time someone tells her she is wrong, her reaction will be way worse than Sivagami’s.

But we don’t see that in this film because, like I said, she is the catalyst.  She is not meant to change, to even be liked or disliked necessarily.  She is just there to force the plot into motion in the most human way possible.

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138 thoughts on “Bahubali Theme Post: Devasena, The Catalyst

  1. Pingback: Bahubali Posts Index | dontcallitbollywood

  2. I don’t know if I can be impartial about this one, because Devasena is so much my favorite! (So a blanket apology in advance, everyone!) But thoughts about her, in no particular order:
    – Absolutely agree with your Devasena=catalyst theory. (And it ties in what we talked about in the Rise of Sivagami post, where Mahishmati/Sivagami kind of starting out great but resting on its laurels, where Devasena is the catalyst that can take it to future heights.)

    – Is she really mean to Kumar Varma, though? All things considered, she’s very sweet to him. (I mean, she has that split second of amusement, but wouldn’t you?) If anything, I thought Kattappa was a lot meaner, actually – he’s the one who makes fun of him derisively when they first meet, and is so over-the-top when complimenting him as to be almost insulting.

    – I feel the proposal scene is one of the ones where I disagree with everyone about Devasena being over the top (now the baby shower, you guys know, I fully agree with). But first off: everyone else listening to this proposal is mad. You get a shot of her ladies-in-waiting when Kattappa is standing among them, and they are all fuming. (And if you want to argue they’re just trying to support Devasena, she hasn’t said anything yet, is just sitting there listening silently.) And all the courtiers surrounding her wholeheartedly support her, as do her brother and Kumar Varma. To me, it’s quite clear that this is an insult at best, sign of aggression at worst to Kuntala, and as such Devasena is within her rights to turn it down forcefully.

    Plus, I just don’t understand what sort of polite response she could have given. It’s clear any refusal would have been met with a “why don’t you want to? Don’t you see Mahishmati is the best kingdom ever, that’s decided to choose little unworthy you out of all the other princesses in the world, etc etc” and do you guys really see Sivagami taking a simple “no, I’d rather not” for an answer without seeing it as a sign of Kuntala’s arrogance anyway? Devasena claiming she didn’t want to marry at all would be a lie and awkward if she later did marry someone; stating she wasn’t worthy to marry into Mahishmati or some other pretty lie is completely out of character; and admitting she preferred some random guy they picked up off the street to the Prince of Mahishmati would be just as insulting as what she did say. It’s a bad situation, and I could easily see her just deciding to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

    – My one other thing that I disagree about: I think Devasena does change over the two movies, actually! Not for love, not say, over the course of the flashback, but she has her own character arc. The way I see her, Devasena’s greatest fear is powerlessness–specifically, not losing power over others, but losing power over herself. And as a young woman, she associates that specifically with being taken prisoner: hence her line to Amarendra that she would go with him to death’s door as his servant (again, emphasizing that it’s not necessarily that she wants to command power over others), but nowhere as a prisoner. And when she stands up for herself against Sivagami in that big throne room scene, she’s not defending her right to choose her husband, she’s defending her right to self-determination/agency, to choose for herself if she wants to marry Amarendra or Bhalla or neither instead of just being packed off to Bhalla like a prize because his mother has promised him her hand. But when she does wind up imprisoned for good by Bhalla, this awful fate that she’s dreaded, she finds a way to maintain her sense of purpose and agency; she turns Bhalla’s own tactics of silent endurance against him.

    (And finally, on a personal note: I think one of the reasons why I defend Devasena so much is that I find her outspokenness a breath of fresh air. As a young woman, you’re told so often to be polite, not to make a scene, not to stand up for yourself, that no one will love you or respect you if you do –and to see the narrative be so strongly on Devasena’s side whenever she does means a lot to me. For all the movie’s other imperfections – and regardless of whether or not you think Devasena was justified in what she actually says – I will love it for that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so pleased that I managed to be impartial! As I said, I am firmly in the “Devasena is the BEST” camp, but I really wanted to find a way to deal with her character in shades of grey, like everyone else in the film, instead of just going straight for that.

      I get exactly what you are saying about seeing a female character not just stand up for herself, but be applauded for it! By the best characters in the film, by the rest of society, by the narrative which rewards her. We have plenty of movies in both India and Hollywood like Pink, where the outspoken woman is punished for being outspoken, even if the narrative tells us she is in the right. And here she is a princess with the perfect guy and gets to be crown mother at the end of it.

      -Yes, exactly! That’s what I was thinking of, that Mahishmati/Sivagami used to be great but needs a shock to force a leap forward. And that’s what Devasena is, love her or hate her, the shock they needed.

      -Oh, I don’t think she is mean to Kumar! But I can see how it could be read that way, because they wanted to make sure the audience saw that she wasn’t easily impressed with someone just because he is a man so they put in her gentle amusement right away, so we see her being like this. And all the other little signs during her early scenes. To me they just said “a woman who knows her own mind and has her own thoughts”. But I can see how to others, having so many moments that in a row could make her seem like someone who doesn’t care about other people.

      -Ooo, I like the “better to be hung for a sheep than a lamb” idea! You could also say, it is a calculated diplomatic move. If they have no army or trade or any other kind of power, maybe she has decided that the best defense is a strong offense. To send a reply so fearless and insulting it will make them appear stronger than they are. Or at least go out in a blaze of glory.

      And, your other point that there is really no polite excuse she could give, that kind of reminded me of the problems with “letting him down easy” today! If they guy keeps calling and asking you out and you keep saying “no, I’m busy”, sometimes they just don’t get the message. But a response like this, there is no way to misinterpret, they won’t have to deal with ambassador after ambassador and coming up with a million different excuses, just rip the bandaid off as it were.

      -Can I say that Devasena changes by not changing? She feared being a prisoner, losing her free will. And then she is a prisoner and discovers that she didn’t change at all, her will is still her own.

      On Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 6:35 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • As always you phrase my rambles so wonderfully and succinctly! 😀 but yes, absolutely, I totally feel like Devasena’s tendency to leap without looking is her greatest flaw, but what you said about even the fabulous Pink punishing its female characters for being outspoken and the proposal tying into the letting guys down easy vs. risking them not getting the message is so, so true. Devasena as a character makes me instinctively want to jump to her defense and I think those two points are why!

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        • Also, the change-by-not changing thing works, too! (Because you’re right, overall, her agency and power remain unchanged!)

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    • I love the prisoner bit! I agree that she fears being powerless. Although I must declare I’m in the Devasena-so-bad camp 😛

      But I totally agree on that particular assessment of her!

      As for the refusal bit, I imagine Amarendra dealing with this situation (where he’s the king of Kuntala and his sister Devasena receives such a proposal) What would Amarendra do?

      Probably something innovative. Probably a message like

      “Dear QM Sivagami Devi,

      While we appreciate your kind offer of marriage for my sister Devasena, we’re afraid we must at this point in time politely decline the same. Your ambassador in his enthusiasm to prove his loyalty to the Prince has managed to offend the honour of both my sister as well as that of our kingdom with his words.

      Being proud Kshatriyas, as you may well understand, we cannot accept this behaviour from anyone even if he is the ambassador of Mahishmati. Hence, Amartya has been detained at Kuntala for the time being and we will await your instruction for a suitable punishment for him since it is your good name that he has managed to soil with his words.

      As for my sister, Madam, we believe women have the right to choose their own husbands. We know you would appreciate the sentiment given that you are a renowned guardian of the Kshatriya dharma in the realm.

      We wish you and your son the best in your future endeavours.

      Yours, &C”

      And then he would probably order the army and cattle herders to stand by in case Sivagami takes offence to the refusal.

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      • But detaining an ambassador was definite grounds for war in the ancient world! (Genghis Khan, for example, razed a city to the ground because they had disrespected one of his ambassadors. Diplomatic immunity for messengers was very very important- remember the magnitude of the insult when Duryodhan tries to imprison Krishna in the Mahabharata?)
        I’m sorry, I know I’m being nitpicky 😛 I actually do agree with you that there would be a better way to answer the proposal and Amarendra could probably think of it, but I’m just not sure what it is!

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        • Are they going to go to war over Amartya though? Especially when there are plenty of witnesses for how he ruined the proposal and offended his hosts? They haven’t imprisoned him. Just detained and they’re asking Sivagami what punishment should be meted out to him.

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          • I dunno….there were plenty of witnesses for the sethupathy incident too, and that didn’t exactly end well. (The sheer stupidity of this, when there’s a literal crowd of people willing to twitch that Devasena was acting out of self defense makes me grit my teeth at Sivagami and Bhalla’s terrible decisions. Or maybe the halfhearted attempt at justice is intentional, given neither of them particularly like her.)

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          • Well all Devasena needed in her trial was to give a faithful testimony. We never get there because she’s busy insulting everyone. Her trial never gets underway because she disrupts the proceedings. In the real world, she’d be held in contempt of court. 😁

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  3. Kumar Gaurav or Kumar Varma?

    Firmly in the Devasena is awesome camp.

    What I like about Devasena is that she is considerate and comes across as caring about her subordinates, making sure her maids are out of the harms way when she asks Kumar Varma to re-enact the log cutting, does not have a sense of entitlement and instead prefers to stand in the line in the Shiva temple, and compassionate enough to agree to take in the so-called village idiot Shivu and his mama. She doesn’t seem to have ego, her maid is able to question her why she hasn’t gotten dressed for the Krishna pooja, she forgives Sivagami despite her culpability in her husband’s execution, despite the nasty way the Mahishmati royal family has treated her husband. Devasena also seems to have qualms in accepting her limitations, she is happy to learn the 3-arrow trick.

    Devasena’s strength of character is shown in her love for Amarendra when she refuses to be a mute spectator and watch her husband being humiliated at her baby shower, decides to stay at the Dandalayya village instead of going back to Kunthala and in making the difficult decision for her child’s safety when she sends the baby away with Sivagami.

    I found it amusing that Devasena, who went hammer and tongs at the proposal because Bhalla was hiding behind his mother but finds it cute when Amarendra more or less does the same, he stands behind his mama and lets his mama do the talking. Infact, when Jeyaverma asks about his identity and the reason he is in Kunthala, it is Kattappa who answers and reveals about Amarendra’s love for Devasena.

    Is Devasena another version of Sivagami? I don’t think so. I agree with the point Margaret made before that Sivagami is all about the law versus Devasena is about justice. Though it doesn’t make Sivagami (the pre-Amarendra-Devasena marriage Sivagami) any less Dharmic. Sivagami seems to be all about the Kingdom whereas Devasena is all about the people who make up the Kingdom. We don’t know anything about the pre-motherhood SIvagami. We are introduced to the Sivagami who is a mother to a few months old baby, the Sivagami at that point is well versed in statecraft as she takes reins of the Kingdom. We see a statesmanlike Devasena when she makes the decision to send her baby with Sivagami, for his own safety and also for the future of Mahishmati, we further see how she uses her captivity to mentally wear down Bhalla. And an important difference arises from the fact that Sivagami is trapped in a bad marriage/family-her husband hates her, the son Bhalla maintains a distance from her with the only person who loves her is her nephew/adopted son Amarendra. In Devasena’s case, her security comes from her family-the brother who dotes on her, the sis in-law who cares about her, and her husband who loves her for who she is. Perhaps that is why Devasena is more able to see from a people point of view. And it is telling that Amarendra who passively accepts the law is superior point of view before takes on a justice is superior (Devasena’s point of view) post his marriage, when he is surrounded by people who love him unconditionally (his wife, her brother, brother’s wife and so on and even the Dandalayya village people).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have now fixed Kumar Gaurav/Verma! who am I thinking of? Was that the one-hit-wonder actor from Love Story? Someone just mentioned in in another comment, maybe that’s why it was in my head.

      I love the idea of strength coming from unconditional love. It carries through to the second generation, Shivudu is so confident and fearless and ready to say what he wants and take it, because he has been raised with so much love. No training, no high level lessons, none of that. But just lots and lots of love, which is all he needed.

      On Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 7:47 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • With regards to why Devasena’s okay with Kattappa making Amarendra’s proposal: maybe it’s because unlike Bhalla, Amarendra had clearly already put time and effort into getting to know her, being around her, etc? (And was also standing right there, clearly agreeing with the proposal and only remaining silent due to the propriety of letting his elder relative make the request). While Bhalla, OTOH, even when pretending to have been in love with Devasena for months acknowledges to Sivagami that he’s only ever seen a picture of her and she has no clue who she is. (And Devasena too has a line where she says she would have at least respected the prince if he’d bothered to show up in person; clearly that rankles for her. And I understand many royals couldn’t make the travel, but honestly, guys, Kuntala and Mahishmati are neighbors. It’s clearly not that far to go.)

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      • Well Kattappa already knew she liked him. She does a song for him.

        As Crown Prince, it’s sort of beneath him to make the proposal himself especially when he’s been in hiding. How would he even introduce himself? “Hi, I’m Amarendra Bahubali. I’m the crown prince of Mahishmati. I just defeated the dreaded Kalakeya and I’m gonna get coronated in a few weeks!” 😁

        Letting the elder relative make the request is also correct as per tradition. And that’s exactly what Bhallala does. He sticks to what’s traditional for his station.

        Bhallala never says he loves her for her personality. Even today we have situations where guy sees girl at some wedding or something and asks his family to send a proposal for marriage. That still happens. And people get married that way. Bhallala isn’t asking for a love marriage.

        When Sivagami promises to find a match for Amarendra too, we must assume she had a similar MO in mind for that wedding too with a grand reception for the bride at Mahishmati.

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  4. Me too in the crowded “Devasena is awesome” camp. But there is one weakness in her character (talking without thinking about consequences) which is the catalyst for the story to move forward.

    During or after her first fight with pindaris she doen’t show pride in her face. So when she scolded Amarendra and Kattappa for hiding behind women and children, I don’t take it as if she thinks she is stroger than them. She fights as a matter of fact and also expects the same bravery from these two tall men.

    Also when she gave that smile when Kumar Varma volunteered to be coach, I didn’t get the impression that she is giving insulting looks. I perceived that she admired Kumar Varma because he is atleast this much useful. I still remember her expression and it is so sweet.

    Though she has set up bull test on Amarendra, she shows compassion on him in later scenes. During the baninhment from palace she compassionately nurses the wounded workers. She has to live like a queen but ended up in workers village. But she never complains about the living conditions. I admire her character for that.

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    • Yup, in my comment below, I have almost the same opinion of her smile post the bandit attack (I couldn’t resist typing away without reading the comments, as I was ITCHING for the Devasena post :D). I forgot to elucidate the point you made, of her never complaining about living conditions in the village and in fact being as friendly and compassionate with the villagers as Baahu is.

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    • In the workers village, my feeling was that both Devasena and Amarendra didn’t even notice the change in living conditions. That was one of my favorite parts, they are so happy there, happy with simple food, a small home of their own, all of that. Both of them are so completely blind to status and superficial things that it doesn’t even occur to them to be unhappy. Their unhappiness is in leaving their home/family, not all the wealth of the palace, and the only unhappy moments in the song are when they feel sad about that. And the happiest moments are when the women feed him, or bless him, replacing his mother’s love.

      On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 12:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. I don’t have time to really comment (I’m saving up all your latest character posts to revisit in a few weeks), but I just wanted to mention two things about the proposal and Devasena’s refusal, points I’ve been wanting to make since the beginning, but the pace of the comments was too fast for me to keep up, or even trace which comment I wanted to respond to.

    1. While Sivagami worded the proposal as if there would be no possibility of a refusal, it was really her emissary who was more insulting than the actual proposal ever was. Sending the sword of the prince/king to be married to the woman was a standard practice. That in itself is not an insult.

    My objection to the whole proposal scene was something else entirely. The not mentioning the name of the prince who is being proposed as a match, thus leading to the confusion/misunderstanding, is such a cliche of old time Telugu movies, that I couldn’t believe Rajamouli fell back on this hoary chestnut to move his plot along. To me this was a major, major flaw. Normally, in a situation like this, not only would the proposal name the prince, but also his portrait would be sent along with the emissary. Both of those standard protocols were eliminated to serve the plot, which really weakened the whole thing for me.

    2. When rejecting the proposal, Devasena used a particular Telugu word which is considered the absolute worst thing to say to a man, the worst way to emasculate him, especially if he is a prince and thus a potential ruler of a kingdom. This word is “illarikam”, and I immediately checked to see how it was translated in the subtitles. Well, it was translated accurately enough, in that the subtitle has Devasena saying, “let him tie a knot to my sword and come to live in my home.” This is what illarikam means, that the husband goes to the wife’s family after the marriage instead of the wife coming to her husband’s family. They might be equivalent actions, but in a patriarchal society, this was (and is) considered an insult to the man. And, in practice, the husband who agrees to this set up is, in fact, treated pretty badly by his in-law’s family in general. So the subtitles really don’t convey how horrible an insult Devasena has given, and it is totally unwarranted in my opinion. It’s fine for Devasena to refuse the proposal, it’s fine for her to berate the ambassador for his undiplomatic words. But it’s NOT fine for her to insult Sivagami (who only followed standard protocol, and has showered the potential bride with welcoming gifts), and its is ABSOLUTELY NOT FINE for Devasena to insult an unknown prince, who has done nothing to offend her. This was the point at which I felt they went way overboard trying to show Devasena’s “independence”, and that her words were way over the top.

    The trend only continued in the other key scenes as far as plot development goes — her first introduction to Sivagami, the baby shower, the court scene. In each case, Devasena does not merely talk about or stand up for what is right, but she deliberately abuses and insults everyone else for being wrong. She does not say, “You are wrong, because …” (the way Amarendra, does for example, in explaining why the very dharma that Sivagami taught him forces him to go against her), she in effect says, “What kind of idiot are you that you can’t even see a perfectly obvious point of dharma? Is everyone in this kingdom dumb and blind? Are you all out of your minds?” and more in the same vein.

    In her trial, when the point of law is referenced, she again does not say the law is against dharma, I can’t remember what the subtitles said, but her actual words were, “Then burn your law books! Throw them in the Ganga and drown them! Stomp on them and destroy them because they are worth nothing.” This is not independence, this is unwarranted insult, and insufferable ego.

    Now maybe the film’s intent was to show that Devasena had too swelled a head for her own or her husband’s good. In that case this would be a great characterization. But then it would also require that she recognize her character flaw (as Sivagami did), which she never does. So I think it’s just bad character development. While I don’t go so far as to say that Devasena is the villain (though I agree with the commentator who pointed out that all the bad developments were a direct result of Devasena’s actions), I will say that I am not an unabashed admirer of Devasena for these reasons.

    Looks like I ended up commenting at length, after all. So let me add that, this version of Mahishmati as being a stagnant, undharmic kingdom is something that has been created in the comments on this blog, and was not part of the films at all. Bhallaladeva is a bad king because he destroyed something that was good, not because that place was bad to start with. Of course everyone is free to put their own spin on the films, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that there is no evidence in the films to support this version.

    But, even more than Devasena’s actions, the real catalyst for all these plot development was Sivagami’s guilty conscience as a mother, her weakness of starting to second guess her decisions due to her emotional vulnerability. That may not fit your feminist narrative as well, but really that’s what it was. Even the infamous proposal that started everything on the downward path came about because she was trying to make it up to Bhalla for not giving him the throne. And her usual astute judgement of others’ characters went astray with him because, I think, she never took the trouble to examine and analyze his motives the way she did with everyone else, including her husband. If Devasena had a more conciliating personality, she could have pointed out these errors to Sivagami in a way she could accept and correct them, to everyone’s benefit. But that wouldn’t have given us this film. 🙂

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      • Although you and I are in opposing camps, I love the way you have presented your opinion. We have differing ways of looking at things and I have already written about mine in my original post. However there is one thing that stood out to me in yours: the point you put across of Mahishmati perhaps not being as rotten as it is being made out to be. That’s a thought. I agree there is not much concrete evidence of the kingdom being corrupt/depraved. Also when Bhalla says “you are guilty until proved innocent” I don’t disagree. I mean, she DID cut off the Army Commander’s fingers! It was justified that she be brought to court although yes, concessions should have been made about chaining her, seeing as how she was heavily pregnant. Bhalla’s line saying “The law is equal for everyone, whether it is for a pregnant lady or an elderly person, you or me” is justified too. It kinda proves your theory that maybe Mahishmati was not exactly as rotten a place as it is being made out to be (post Bhalla’s proper takeover of course)

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    • Agreed! I belong to the camp where I admire Devasena for a lot of what she is, but she is definitely the primary reason for things going so wrong so quickly, because, as I mentioned below in my comment, she plays right into Bhalla’s plans. That and Sivagami’s guilty conscience as a mother. Spot on.

      Got to ask. If the tables had been turned, and if Baahu had accused Bhalla of trying to murder him, would Sivagami had given out a death sentence without asking Bhalla once if he actually did do it? That’s my main contention with the whole “Sivagami loved Baahu more than Bhalla” theory as well. I think she tries very hard to rise above her maternal instincts. And fails miserably in the end.

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      • Bhalla is such a bloody genius. He knew his adversaries’ strengths and more importantly, their weaknesses. With Sivagami, it was her ego. With Devasena, her temper. With Baahu, his trusting nature. He exploited all of these in a truly masterful way. One has to give him that. A systematic stripping away of everyone’s defences, leaving bare only their respective Achilles’ Heels. Amazing, really

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        • On some other post, someone pointed out that Bhalla’s problem is he is too goal oriented. I feel like Baahu brought out the best of him, the goal of winning of him brought Bhalla to his highest heights. And once he died, so did Bhalla’s greater intelligence. We never seen him use this kind of gamesmanship again, it’s all about brute force.

          On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 1:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Probably. She would probably still give the order to have Bhallala assassinated. Or maybe there’d be a public execution for him since he didn’t have the public support threatening instability. She might want to make an example of him all the more since it was her own son involved in high treason!

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    • Although you and I are in opposing camps, I love the way you have presented your opinion. We have differing ways of looking at things and I have already written about mine in my original post. However there is one thing that stood out to me in yours: the point you put across of Mahishmati perhaps not being as rotten as it is being made out to be. That’s a thought. I agree there is not much concrete evidence of the kingdom being corrupt/depraved. Also when Bhalla says “you are guilty until proved innocent” I don’t disagree. I mean, she DID cut off the Army Commander’s fingers! It was justified that she be brought to court although yes, concessions should have been made about chaining her, seeing as how she was heavily pregnant. Bhalla’s line saying “The law is equal for everyone, whether it is for a pregnant lady or an elderly person, you or me” is justified too. It kinda proves your theory that maybe Mahishmati was not exactly as rotten a place as it is being made out to be (post Bhalla’s proper takeover of course)

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      • Err, this last comment was meant to be a reply to Moimeme’s post, not yours. Apologies as I don’t think I can delete it. The one before though was indeed a reply to your comment 🙂

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    • No doubt, sending prince’s sword was a standard practice in middle ages. But if we analyze this practice with modern day thinking that practice can be perceived as a threat and as disrespecting a girl’s choices. Asking for “Kshatyiya marriage” means “be the bride or be prepared to face our sword”. Our heroine has modern day thinking (practising two-arrow tricks, not ashamed to touch Amarendra or workers). So when she was flying like a popcorn at the marriage proposal I didn’t find it abnormal.

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      • My reply positioning got messed up 😦 It was meant to be reply to Moimeme’s comment that sending a prince’s sword was not an insult.

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      • I can’t see Devasena agreeing to any kind of state marriage. We don’t even see her family showing her pictures or anything like that. I think they were expecting her to either remain unmarried, or present them with her own choice of a husband at some point (as in fact she did). I wonder if her brother had an arranged marriage or not? Maybe it is just tradition in their family/kingdom to not do these kinds of sight unseen arrangements.

        On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 3:46 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • They don’t show her pictures because they already had a built in potential groom in the form of Kumara Verma. If she didn’t want him, then they would start showing her pictures of other potential grooms. Remember her sister-in-law chides/threatens (playfully) her with, “Are you going to start thinking about your marriage, or should we just hitch you up with Kumar Verma?”

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        • Yup, that’s why they’re happy that she seems to have caught feelings for the journeyman soldier (what else should they have thought of him?)

          She was always going to choose her own husband and they don’t mind that it was some random warrior passing through their kingdom. Their lineage was probably secure through Kumar Varma anyway and it didn’t really matter who she married as long as he could let her be herself!

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      • Why on earth should we analyze a practice of ancient times (the time period of the film) through “modern eyes”? Then we may as well question why there should be kings and queens, and not representative democracy. 🙂 In either case, the sword is sent as a symbolic representation of the person, and doesn’t pose any kind of threat or danger.

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    • Thank you! i didn’t realise Devasena’s insults might have sounded worse in Telugu. I agree that there’s some ambiguity regarding who they wanted Devasena to really be since you only start falling out of love with her on the third viewing of the film (Not-a-fan here!).

      I did not however consider that the characterisation might have been deliberately tweaked to make us see who Devasena really is on subsequent rewatches. I mean they couldn’t have lead with “our heroine is not so amazing” at all could they? Even showing her in a slightly negative light would throw people off her cause during Mahendra’s battle.

      Also agree re Mahishmati. Nothing suggests people were suffering under Sivagami’s regency. Even under Bhallala, we see people suffering but there is material prosperity- the city has expanded by a lot, traders from far off lands are coming in just to sell speciality weapons, the general public has enough gold to cast a couple hundred foot tall gold statue of the king! And the people, repressed as they are, can still freely declare their love for Bahubali without being thrown in jail en masse.

      i don’t consider Devasena to be a feminist icon at all. If anything, she’s an elitist and an exceptionalist. She expects everyone to tolerate her rants because she thinks she should get away with making those insults. If she doesn’t, she’s extremely stupid for not expecting there to be no consequences. Her supposed humility doesn’t translate into the ability hold a decent conversation with someone she disagrees with. Her constant insults towards Sivagami are actually mean.

      Also, I think she didn’t receive a proper education. Her sister in law says archery etc doesn’t suit a princess and they should be looking for a boy for her. Maybe she never received formal training. Amarendra knows the multi-arrow manoeuvre because he’s been trained. He knows defence strategies, he can recall the instruction about Kshatriya dharma from his mom, both him and Bhallala have effectively passed uni. Devasena, on the other hand, never cites laws in her arguments. Not even of her own kingdom.

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    • Oh! I had a question about the sword thing! Is it meant to represent the person’s labor/spirit/personality? that is, if I were a farmer, might I send my plow or a similar object? Because that makes more sense to me than the sword as a weapon or threat or anything like that.

      If a marriage by proxy is required, which I can see the reasoning for in this case, so that Devasena can arrive in Mahishmati with a firm status in place instead of a kind of awkward betwixt and between position, then sending the object that is most representative of what Bhalla has to offer, what he is, makes sense.

      And I just realized why I was thinking a marriage by proxy would make sense! Of all things, I was thinking of Varun’s poor girlfriend Natasha. She was kept out of the limelight when they were just dating, but now that she is co-hosting parties with his parents and clearly moving towards an engaged position, now she is being photographed and semi-openly talked about. A woman in the “maybe I will marry you” position is kind of fragile, the relationship could be broken with no repercussions for the man, but if she came all the way to Mahishmati to meet him and no marriage ensued, she would be vulnerable and might lose face, just like a “regular person” who is photographed and known to be dating a movie star would be in a really awkward position if that relationship ended.

      So the idea of asking her to tie a thread to the sword without meeting him doesn’t in itself bother me, it’s almost considerate, to offer the commitment so that she can arrive in Mahishmati with a firm position in place. Of course, the way it was presented didn’t really convey that idea, but I can see why the practice existed.

      On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 12:41 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes, tying the marriage thread (not just any old thread) to the sword of a kshatriya man was an accepted practice for marriage by proxy, and it would be a valid marriage. As you note, this means that the woman has all the rights and powers of being his lawfully wedded wife.

        However, this practice was only for kshatriyas. So other people like farmers, intellectuals can’t end their plows or books in their place for proxy marriages. I think the reason for this might have been that kshatriyas were more likely to have been away fighting wars, and so weren’t always available to come to the wedding themselves? But this is pure speculation on my part.

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        • Always fighting wars and avoiding getting killed during their travels. Maybe the practise came from the fact that they could have multiple wives. Apart from their main wife, it would be pretty silly for them to go dressing up and doing the whole bit for every wife they got.

          For political marriages, it makes even more sense. You need an alliance with an undecided state or even an enemy state so you don’t put the life of your heir in danger and he just sends his sword as his proxy and if it comes back with the girl, you’re allies for sure!

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  6. I am with you in the very crowded ‘Devasena is AWESOME’ camp! I seriously love the lady. Yes, she certainly is not perfect. But then, who is, in the Bahubali universe? Barring Amarendra of course, and even that is arguable. You mentioned her “lowkey smile” after the fight with the bandits. The way I saw it, she was playing the part of a ‘demure’ lady, not wanting to demean the man next to her in public. This followed the absolutely flawless fight she put up. So to me, it was more like ‘I have established my prowess, but that doesn’t mean I contradict him in public. It’s okay, he can have his moment in the sun, I already had mine. I know he is harmless”. I did not understand what you meant by “ignoring her sister-in-law in preference for mastering the arrow trick”…She was already practicing with her maidens in tow. Her brother, his wife and their retinue came to the scene later. The sister-in-law had not even spoken yet. Also, it is quite evident that she is not much of a warrior, so perhaps Devasena and she never discussed war skills? If you notice, when the Maharani asks her to put the bow down, leads her away by hand, and asks her to choose a groom, she does not object or give an inflammatory response (as we see her doing so often, once she is in Mahishmati). She just smiles. Oh, as for the chastising Kattappa-Bahubali for standing about doing nothing post the bandit attack, I think it was pretty natural. They were grown-ass well built men. One would expect them to assist, I guess? I could go on about her awesomeness because like Avani, I guess I too cannot be unbiased here 😀

    She tends to lash out only when it seems to her that injustice has been meted out. When Amarendra brings her to Mahishmati’s court for the first time and shit starts to hit the roof shortly after, Sivagami speaks to Bahu about promising her to Bhalla as if she is not even standing there and/or has no agency of her own! I find that infuriating! And even Amarendra, who I love to the core of my heart, actually stays mum when he has been told she was promised to Bhalla. It is only when she is physically under attack that he snaps out of his stupor. No doubt, Devasena could have toned down her response. The “don’t you have that much sense?!” was definitely not going to go down well with anyone. Not in a society where elders are supposed to be revered, and this was Sivagami, ego personified. I like Devasena SO MUCH for the fact that she never once lashes out at Baahu or makes him choose between her and his mother. However I will agree that most of her anger is targeted at Sivagami, even when at times the conflict is with Bhalla or Bijjala. Subconscious envy for the ‘primary’ woman in Baahu’s life perhaps? Or just plain dismissal of the other two men who she had already sussed out were rotten. She knew Sivagami wasn’t rotten, just too high-handed and not in touch with reality anymore. Perhaps that is why she directed all her fire towards her.

    To conclude, I completely agree with this part – Devasena causes reveal weaknesses in other characters as well. To put it another way, the conflicts she causes were ultimately conflicts that needed to occur.

    Mahishmati, Sivagami, Kattappa, Amarendra, they were all too settled in their ways, they had lost the ability to grow. Devasena was that kick in the butt that got them to start changing and growing

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    • Except Devasena does lash out at Baahu. In the baby shower scene, she is basically emasculating him in front of all their friends and family. She also lashed out at him after the Kuntala battle. Physically hitting a guy who’s talking nicely to you is not badass, it’s just bad.

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      • To me, her demeanor at the baby shower was excusable. I would certainly not call it “emasculating” him. She was angry at the insult to her husband and angry also on his behalf as he seemed to take it all in his stride and did not make a peep in protest. Bhalla was patronizing her, telling her and the entire gathering what a pregnant woman wants most. It is clearly a flimsy reason to strip Baahu of his post and neither Baahu nor Sivagami–two people who actually could have voiced opinions on this–said a word. No wonder she was angry! As for her throwing the fire torch after the Pindari battle at Kuntala, yes that was severe. But to be fair to her, she was backed into a corner. A man who she has openly professed her love for is to take her prisoner. He is not answering repeated questions as to his identity, Also, important to note I feel, is that Kuntala is her homeground. Had it been Mahishmati, I really doubt she would have done that.

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        • Excusable. Not correct. Sivagami gives her a piece of her mind and Devasena yells back at her! Sivagami doesn’t gets excused for her behaviour. Not fair!

          Yelling at your spouse in public no matter what they have done wrong falls under emotional abuse. I’ve said this before, had it been Amarendra that had been yelling at Devasena in public for not being good enough, we’d probably not see it as excusable. Love is not abuse.

          “He is not answering repeated questions as to his identity”
          She doesn’t let him speak 😛

          “Had it been Mahishmati, I really doubt she would have done that.”

          Except she totally does the same only verbally in Mahishmati too. REPEATEDLY.

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    • Could we say that perhaps Devasena is the only person who fully understands and respects Sivagami? Like you say, her anger is directed towards her. Which, in some ways, is a compliment. She knows that if Sivagami really tried, she could solve all these problems. She is strong enough and smart enough and just enough to do it. Amarendra keeps forgiving her and letting things go, but Devasena says “No! She can be better than this, she should be better than this, I am holding her to a higher standard.”

      On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 1:04 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Wonderful post! Agreed on Devasena being the catalyst to all the events in BB2. In fact, in a way, she is the central character of the Baahubali series. All the other character motivations and arcs are directly linked to her. That said, the most fascinating part about Devasena is her imperfection, just like all other characters have their own flaws.

    She has a lot of wonderful qualities – her bravery, her readiness to serve her people, her disdain for wealth and comfort when weighed against self respect and justice, her ability to quickly read people, and to judge them based on their merit, not class or race or gender, and also, her willingness to set aside her ego to learn. Every quality that makes Amarendra Baahubali fall deeply in love with her. All this balanced against her one fatal flaw – her volatility.

    I have to wonder how different things would have been if Devasena had patiently reasoned out with Sivagami in the royal court instead of insulting her with “Do you not possess even that courtesy?” Or even let Amarendra Baahubali respond to his mother before interrupting them, because diplomacy is an art form too.

    For such an astute judge of character, she must have realized that Sivagami’s ego would never let her respond positively to confrontation and insults, yet this is what she does in every crucial juncture – be it their first meeting in the royal court, the baby shower, or later, when on trial in chains. She plays right into Bhalla’s plans and Amarendra ends up losing his throne, his command over the army and his place in the royal palace in all three junctures. Surely there is protocol to be followed when one is addressing the Queen Mother? How else could Sivagami possibly respond when her authority is being treated with disdain in open court, she has to curb it otherwise there will be chaos.

    But all said and done, I am so curious about how Mahendra Baahubali would get along with Devasena as the Queen Mother, considering they are both so volatile and quick to jump into action without considering all consequences. Seeing how Mahendra cannot be restricted in any way, free as the wind, following his own heart, it would be a completely different relationship between the queen mother and the king. Devasena could very well continue being the catalyst in BB3 if it ever gets made.

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    • You’re asking all the right questions!!!

      We never ever get to what if she talked nicely to Sivagami, do we?

      Let’s play with this a bit.

      Do we start with her response to the letter or with the court scene?

      If we start with the letter, a softer, polite and firm response from Devasena puts Sivagami in a bind- Bhallala sulks and tells her her word means nothing. She doesn’t declare war but she’s feeling very guilty. Bajjala persuades her to send word to Baahu to have him convince her for the match.

      Two choices again- Does the word arrive before he makes a vow to Devasena or after? If it arrives before the battle, Baahu decides to honour his mother’s word and convinces Devasena to come to Mahishmati at least for a visit.

      Since no vow is given and Devasena doesn’t also fully realise she loves him sort of goes OK and goes with him. So an undecided Devasena is then at Mahishmati court as a guest and must decide between Bhallala who is the official proposal and Amarendra whom she loves. Bhallala still gets to lay his trap and knowing how easy to dupe Amarendra, Sivagami, Kattappa are, chances of them all falling for a ploy are high.

      Lets look at how it might have played out if the word arrives after the vow. When Devasena is told to go stand next to her husband and she chooses Amarendra and Sivagami asks her what is she doing, she tells her the story in detail. Again, it would matter if she had sent a rude refusal to the proposal or a polite one.

      With a polite refusal and Devasena telling Sivagami politely about how she and Baahu are in love and about his vow, the dharmasankat still arrives for Sivagami– Does she uphold her vow to Bhallala disregarding a girl’s right over her heart, does she break her vow and undermine her own authority or does she uphold Amarendra’s vow so that his authority as the next king isn’t undermined?

      Even with this scenario, even with everyone being super polite, Amarendra can still tell Sivagami “Ma, I don’t want you to lose face. Let me uphold my vow and Devasena’s right because that’s dharma. For this, you can take away my crown and give it to Bhallala as punishment for me going against you.”

      Bhallala can still strip Bahu of his title later on and he can still find a way to ensure Devasena and Baahu get banished.

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      • “Even with this scenario, even with everyone being super polite, Amarendra can still tell Sivagami “Ma, I don’t want you to lose face. Let me uphold my vow and Devasena’s right because that’s dharma. For this, you can take away my crown and give it to Bhallala as punishment for me going against you.”

        Bhallala can still strip Bahu of his title later on and he can still find a way to ensure Devasena and Baahu get banished.”

        Except Bhalla will no longer be able to get an execution order.

        I was thinking of something else, even with the rude original reply and all, what if, at some point during Devasena’s pregnancy, she and Sivagami had patched up? Women tend to long to be near their mothers, what if Devasena started to look at Sivagami in that way? I wonder what would happen to Bhalla’s plans then.

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        • Bhallala is a mastermind. He succeeds because he can drive a wedge between the two of them. Bhallala didn’t give an order for execution on his own. He made Sivagami believe it needed to be done. Even with Amarendra nicely giving up his throne, Bhallala’s plan still succeeds.

          Let’s not forget king still has jurisdiction when it comes to dismissing the General so he can still fire Baahu whenever Devasena becomes pregnant on the same flimsy ground. Sivagami doesn’t have jurisdiction to overturn that decision. If she protests, he can always hold the “You broke your promise to me re Devasena already and now you’re breaking my jurisdiction for Bahu arbitrarily, Ma!” over her head and guilt her into silence.

          To have Amarendra killed, all he needs is to create a condition where Amarendra gets cornered and killed. *It doesn’t even need to come with an order for assassination from Sivagami. If Bhallala has loyalists, troubles can be faked far from the kingdom where Amarendra can be ambushed. The king doesn’t need to be implicated in the ambush at all. One group out there stabbing Amarendra in the back while Kattappa is held back at home and the group comes back with a story of how Bahu was killed in action.

          That’s how beautiful Bhallala’s plan is!

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    • I am curious if we would see that age/imprisonment has slightly changed Devasena. During the final battle, she needed to be the Devasena we knew as a young woman, brave and angry and all that. But maybe if we had seen QM Devasena, we would have seen her having learned diplomacy and patience.

      The other thing I am wondering is if Mahendra, Tamannah, and Devasena might learn to use each other’s strengths. Tamannah has a good instinct on who to trust, Devasena can be really scary and angry and outspoken as needed, and Mahendra is willing to sit back and let other people take the lead as needed. In an ideal situation, we would have Tamannah being “good Queen”, Devasena being “bad Queen”, and Mahendra being the one sitting back and waiting to give judgement. Something like a judgement scene, I could see Devasena dialing her anger up to 11 (like Moimeme described) saying this is the worst thing ever they should be executed, and then Tamannay leaping in and saying “no no, let’s hear them out”, and the criminal being so scarred of Devasena and trusting of Tamannah that they tell the truth. While Mahendra just sits backs and listens, and finally issues the judgement after his women have prepared the ground for him.

      But that’s in an ideal version, it could also turn into Devasena getting angry, Tamannah preaching understanding, and Mahendra being caught between the two.

      On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 1:09 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • The symbiosis is definitely more pleasant to imagine. I expect Mahendra to struggle with the ramping up he’ll need in politics, statecraft, art of war. diplomacy, science and law. Mahendra who loves running bare feet on the grass, swinging from vines, sleeping under the stars, climbing trees and mountains, living in unison with nature, never listening to a word of what anyone else says, following his heart – having to go through the same training that his father did? And I fully expect Devasena to say “you are Amarendra Baahubali’s son, how can you not know even this?!” at some point because it’s a very Devasena thing to say. 🙂

        Mahendra Baahubali at his core is still a happy, unrestricted man-child before he’s diverted by this whole “Rescue Devasena, avenge your parents” mission, but he’s eventually going to get back to being the fun loving goofball that he is, however much he tries to look like Amarendra Baahubali during his coronation or wear his father’s shield or carry his father’s sword. When does he give up trying to be his father (his frustration was already evident during Kattappa’s ‘think like Baahubali’) and I really don’t expect Devasena to be a patient teacher either.

        Avantika to me is a black box. Why does she fall for Shivudu? Because he climbed the mountain, so he’s special? Because he is interested in her? Does she have the unbridled love that Devasena had for Amarendra that made her take on the world for her husband? Would Avantika ever stand up to Devasena to protect Mahendra? How does he think and act like a father who he has never met, under the weight of expectation from literally everyone?

        Does Devasena ever realize there is more than one way to be a good king – that Mahendra can be a wonderful leader for all the same reasons that he’s not his father, because he has grown up surrounded by love and freedom, not rules and restrictions and politics of the palace?

        Not intending to write a spin-off novel in your comments section, sorry, but there are so many possibilities about how Devasena and Mahendra relationship could end up – mainly because we saw literally nothing of it in the movie – and it’s really intriguing. Pity we’ll probably never get to see it, because I can’t imagine Prabhas and Anushka agreeing to do a mother-son role for an entire movie with close interaction. I believe the very less interaction as-it-is was because they were worried they wouldn’t be able to pull it off, so Rajamouli put in as little direct interaction as possible.

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        • I’m going with Tamannah/Avantika as a natural follower, not a leader. Her most rebellious action, as I see it, is when she insists on trusting Prabhas 2/Shivudu and convincing the rest of her band that they should trust him too. And her greatest strength is being able to quickly decide who to trust and follow.

          How about this for fanfic? Tamannah becomes a beloved Queen of the people, thanks to her humble origins, and her willingness to get her hands dirty (I am picturing things like a royal procession where she hops off to help catch a rabid dog, or to play with a child). I can imagine her, after having had such a restricted and empty life, really embracing the possibilities of joy and love and gentleness in a way the people respond to.

          Then, inevitably, her mother-in-law and husband will conflict. Tamannah will have to choose which to follow. And she will be in high demand between the two not just for herself, but because the people will follow where she leads. Civil War will threaten, until finally Tamannah goes out and speaks to the people and convinces them all to be on the same side as her and it ends peacefully.

          Also in this version, I can see Devasena presenting her argument without the possibility of compromise because she never allows for compromise, and Mahendra presenting his with all the emotional blackmail he can muster (because he has no problem using emotions to get what he wants). And Tamannah eventually choosing based not on either argument but simply which person she trusts more.

          No idea who she would choose to follow. I’d like to think Mahendra, because it seems like her love comes along with a strong flavoring of trust in him above all else. But then, she has been raised to worship Devasena.

          On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 9:14 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Ah, that’s an interesting take! It would make for great viewing for sure, another potential royal family conflict, infinite drama 😀

            But for some reason, I just don’t see Avantika as the beloved Queen, people’s champion, mainly because she is usually behind the scenes, never in the forefront taking credit. I see her influencing Mahendra with her goodness and kindness but being invisible to the people. There is none of that immediate magnetism/charisma that Sivagami/Devasena/Amarendra possessed that I see in Avantika. She has had a single goal all her life, and now that goal is done. What does she get to be now? It could be absolutely anyone. Avantika is a blank slate that Mahendra fell for (though tbh it feels more like a crush or infatuation than genuine love, because what does he know about her? What do WE know about her?), and I don’t think Avantika is in a position to be deciding conflicts between two forceful personalities like Devasena and Mahendra, she needs to decide who she is first.

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          • @Mira: I actually kind of agree about Avantika, which is why I headcanon that after the coronation, while making it clear that she has no problems with the marriage itself, Devasena insists that Avantika take some time away before the wedding, go on a little trip by herself, to figure out who she is without the influence of Shivudu or the rebels and to make sure the life of a Queen is really what she wants. (Mahendra whines a little in private of course, while Devasena just rolls her eyes and tells him not to be so childish and inconsiderate, and then they both realize that that’s the first time they’ve had a “normal” mother-son argument instead of being excessively formal/walking on eggshells around each other because of their history.)
            Avantika comes back, and still wants to marry him, of course, but it’s at least an informed decision instead of her simply doing what everyone expects.

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          • Yeah, I was kind of surprised to see her on the coronation dias. I agree with the decision since the director didn’t have a lot of time and wanted to make sure we knew that she was going to marry Shivudu and it wasn’t just a one night stand kind of thing, and to kind of resolve her story.

            But on the other hand, I would have expected her to be in the crowd with the other rebels, and for there to be some intervening steps between rebel warrior and married-to-king. Like, maybe she works as one of his military advisers for a while, they date, get to know each other, and then get married.

            On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 11:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • If I could, I would have Avanthika killed. Maybe in childbirth since that would leave us with little explaining to do. She isn’t essential to the plot.

            Just curious, are we totally ignoring the other mother in Mahendra’s life? The Sanga-Devasena dispute is ripe for the taking!

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          • Newest variation: Mahendra strips Devasena of power over a dispute related to Avantika, makes Sanga into Queen Mother instead. Devasena is still living in the palace as a member of the family, but doesn’t have the status any more. The people threaten revolt, until Devasena finally realizes what her stubborness is causing and goes out and acknowledges that Mahendra is right and, more than that, has power over her and the right to make his own decisions and enforce them even if she disagrees. And then you can pick if she gets to be Queen Mother again, or if Sanga keeps her place.

            On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 12:50 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That destroys her characterization though. Maybe something like Devasena sucks at being QM. Her unresolved arc from the first two films is that she is unrepentant. That cannot be forced from the outside. Maybe Kattappa has a talk with her and kinda tells her she was the reason mother and son didn’t talk their problems out. Plus when she realized QMing is hard work, maybe she sees where Sivagami was coming from and maybe when she sees Mahendra struggling with being king, she realizes why Amarendra wasn’t in such a hurry to reclaim the throne.

            Nobody is perfect in this universe and just like Sivagami realizes how her stubbornness led to the downfall of her beloved son, Devasena too needs to learn to put others before herself.

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          • @Avani agreed! Devasena needs to have just one conversation with Avantika to realize that this girl has no idea what she has gotten herself into, or who Mahendra Baahubali is – except “he can get things done”. The next logical thing to do is for her to take a break to figure things out just like you described. That said, wouldn’t it be interesting if she did take a break and end up falling for someone else? .

            Also, Devasena ought to insist on Mahendra Baahubali taking a small break too and figuring out if this is what HE wants. Poor chap was climbing an insurmountable mountain chasing a girl, and next thing he knows, one thing leads to another, and he’s sitting on the throne of Mahishmati. Not that he has a lot of choice though.

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          • Oh man, Avantika falling for someone else, that would be the issue that drives apart Devasena and Mahendra for me! Devasena would be all “NO WOMAN CAN REFUSE MY SON!!!!” even if it means a total reversal of her earlier view. And Mahendra would be all “I swore that you are mine, which means all your desires are mine too, so I’m gonna get you married to that guy even if it means tearing my kingdom apart.”

            Only, I want a happy ending for all of them, so there’d have to be a way to pull back from it. Maybe Avantika falls in love with the other guy, brings him back to Mahishmati, there is this whole back and forth about it, and slowly she comes to realize that while her infatuation and one night together with Shivudu < her feelings for new guy that she traveled with and joked with and got to know, her feelings for new guy are < feelings for Shivudu who she now respects as a noble warrior and kind person who really just wants the best for her and is working with her to bring this marriage about.

            And it could end with Devasena being the one who gives her the pivotal support, thus resolving their issues! Like, on the night before the wedding, when everyone has come around to New Guy and Devasena goes to give her pre-wedding blessing because Mahendra forced her, she senses that Avantika isn't entirely happy and reminds her that, even now, she has the right to choose her own husband. Even if it means reversing this whole thing and going back to the earlier plan.

            On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 11:59 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • @Margaret yes it was surprising and too neat and convenient. Yet another reason why I feel this REALLY should’ve been split into BB2 and BB3, with more time devoted to Amarendra and Devasena story in BB2, and BB3 with Shivudu planning the revenge, resolving things with Avantika, more layers to his relationship with Devasena and Kattappa and Avantika, and something to reassure us that Mahendra Baahubali becoming king bodes well for Mahishmati except “hey he looks just like his father and he is a great warrior too!”.

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          • @Margaret (on your comment on Devasena-Mahendra fallout reason) – and it would be a neat little tie-up with Sivagami sending Amarendra on a self/people discovery journey before the coronation leading to mother-son rift the previous time around!

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          • YES!!! We could even have the exact same thing, Avantika returns, Devasena tells her to go stand next to her husband, she walks down the steps to stand next to some random warrior, Devasena is furious since she traveled as Crown Princess and now is rejecting that position that she swore to take/Devasena’s son. And Mahendra runs down to protect Avantika’s right to change her mind.

            Only this time Mahendra is already crowned, so he has power over Devasena technically. And Devasena is the demoted one. Heck, make Sanga the Queen Mother! Devasena gets to stay around the palace as an honored guest, but loses her place. And the people threaten revolt over it, it all gets very dramatic, until eventually it is all resolved thanks to Mahendra’s determination, Devasena ends up being Queen Mother again, just in time for her heart to heart with Avantika before the wedding.

            On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 12:14 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Oh wow, guys, that escalated quickly : P. As I envisioned them, if Avantika did fall in love with someone else, I actually picture Devasena as being sympathetic for Mahebdra’s grief, but supportive of Avantika. Because well, this was what Devasena sent her off to explore in the first place, and Devasena is many things but not a hypocrite, at least as I see her. Plus I picture her as having a fondness for Avantika not just as a daughter in law, but as the last remnant of her beloved Kuntala; she would have loved and cared for her even if Mahendra wasn’t in love with her. I definitely think she’d prioritize Avantika’s happiness and right to choose above all, to do otherwise would be entirely out of character with how I envision her. (Plus her life sucks so much! She spends more than half of it imprisoned and tortured, her son clearly considers someone else his mother – and try as they might, Mahendra and Devasena are never going to have the relationship they would have if she’d raised him herself- and she’s most likely not going to live that long, given the ill effects to her health from chronic exposure. I just hate the idea of more sadness and drama for her….but that might be me talking as a biased fan, to be fair.

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          • While we are on the topic of spinoffs, @Asmita’s point about Avantika dying during child birth reminded me of something I’ve been wondering about. Maybe this has already been discussed on this blog before, but it’s kind of odd that three generations of Baahubali men (okay, technically Vikramadevan is not a Baahubali) all look the same, and each generation ends up dying prematurely (and unnaturally?) before they can see their son? Makes me wonder if the reason Rajamouli has still kept Bijjala around is if there’s historical context around this that he’s aware of. Like a curse. Both Amarendra and Mahendra grow up without their parents around as well.

            Another potential point of conflict between Devasena-Mahendra if Devasena wants to delay Mahenra-Avantika union till they get to the bottom of this. 🙂

            Also, on Mahendra removing Devasena, I wonder if the king can constitutionally remove the queen mother (as far as we saw). In fact Sivagami still retained the right to crown the next king (as Mahendra Baahubali) and also intended to start a trial for current king (Bhalla) when she held that position. I believe the queen mother in Mahismathi still holds all the executive powers.

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        • Hahaha! “Fun-loving goofball”. I love that 😀

          “however much he tries to look like Amarendra Baahubali during his coronation”— love this even more 😀

          One thing I was a little sad about. At his coronation Sivudu tries to look SO much like Amarendra, down to even his tilak! Sivudu’s original tilak was something of a black serpent shape and Amarendra’s was a red crescent thingy. He could have held on to his original tilak at the very least 😦

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      • Queen has no jurisdiction and authority. So Avanthika is just sitting there looking pretty and doing the social causes thing and maybe popping out an heir or two.

        Devasena as QM is a scary thought. I’ve said this before too but this woman has openly denounced Mahishmati laws and Constitution. She doesn’t believe in laws at all. There’s an immediate constitutional crisis the moment she becomes QM and decides to be active. If she upholds existing laws, she’s a hypocrite. If she doesn’t, she needs a new Constitution and whatever power she decides to retain for the QM position could be challenged as a power grab by her.

        Apart from Bajjala, not even one person present at the top of the coronation podium knows the first thing about written down laws, statecraft, Constitution. Mahendra, Sanga, Avanthika aren’t probably even formally educated. And I highly doubt Devasena went beyond the basics.

        This is the really delicious bit about Devasena. If she continues along her character curve when she’s QM, she’s a ticking time-bomb that takes everyone down.

        She needs to tear down Mahishmati Constitution and build a whole new one which would be totally untested in the real world and she needs to make it work. Otherwise her opposition to Sivagami in her youth makes zero sense.

        Mahendra doesn’t listen to anyone. Not even his birth mother, He does his own thing. He even forces his version of what he thinks is right onto other people (remember the makeover he gives Avanthika?) so the world makes sense to him the way he wants it to make sense to him.

        Devasena isn’t very good at handling people like that. She needs it her way too. She’s used to givers not takers. Mahendra would probably rebel against Devasena. He doesn’t need her as much as she needs him. He already has Sanga- a mother that demands nothing and loves abundantly and more than that they have bonded over 25 years. It’s the Krishna-Yashoda-Devki thing all over again.

        He declares- My word is law. His word. There’s a conflict right there in that very moment. Devasena opposed this very thing her entire life- you can’t make arbitrary vows and have them declared the law. And now her son is taking the same vow. them apples are going to be a handful for Devasena!!! 😀

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        • Oh we commented simultaneously! I wish we hadn’t, because my imaginary version and yours dovetail really nicely.

          I’d love to see Avantika end up being the one who decides things. Because she has no power. And so the people can love her unconditionally, and she them. And when it gets down to a rift between the two powerful forces in the kingdom, ultimately it is Avantika who gets to decide, because she is the only one the people really trust.

          On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 9:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • “This is the really delicious bit about Devasena. If she continues along her character curve when she’s QM, she’s a ticking time-bomb that takes everyone down.” – SPOT ON!!

          That’s exactly what I’m thinking too. And considering the executive powers of the queen mother, suddenly the post credit scene (“Will Mahendra Baahubali’s son be the next king of Mahishmati?”) sounds a lot more ominous, doesn’t it?

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          • It totally does. It’s a little gem that Rajamaoli has left us with. He may have claimed the conclusion concluded this story but the epilogue and the last shot don’t give us any closure.

            The Mahendra-Sanga-Devasena equation, Mahendra missing being Shivudu, the possible return of Amarendra, Sivagami and the Kalakeya / Vaithalis can help set up a plot.

            Mahishmati needs an enemy and it could be from within (Mahendra and Devasena eff up all the time and everyone hates them) and from outside (those that got wronged by Bhallala and those that get wronged by Mahendra team up to take him down) and all the major characters can have a falling out. Then banding together to save Mahishmati would be nice.

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          • @Asmita Yes, but “the possible return of Amarendra”? Do you mean more about that timeline? Because Amarendra can’t possibly come back in Mahendra’s timeline? The guy was struck down by a dozen arrows, had a sword pass right through him, and was hacked in violent frenzy by the mighty Bhalla multiple times after his death, I doubt he’s still alive. I definitely hope he’s not.

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          • Well offscreen deaths and bodies not found are devices used in film and TV to keep characters alive. Heck, game of thrones showed a character being definitely dead and then he was brought back to life. It’s more at “official funeral by family or it didn’t happen”!

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          • In my understanding the king cannot remove the Queen Mother. Her constitutional role is more like that of a president and the king’s is more like a PM. It’s by design too to ensure kings don’t become too dictatorial and their deaths (in war, etc) don’t destabilise the administration.

            Curious about the early deaths of kings too!! That’s a very good point!

            Also, I don’t understand how WP works! Why can’t I see a reply option on your comment above in the web version? This doesn’t happen on the app!! WP y u do dis?!!

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          • @Asmita Don’t know how I’d feel about Amarendra coming back.

            For me, Amarendra is meant to be this beautiful, transient shooting star – so gorgeous, so bright and so tragically short lived – far too perfect to last in this world for too long. A burst of warmth and light and goodness in the otherwise long, cold, dreary nights of Mahishmati.

            Too much of Amarendra can be too much of a good thing. I think his story arc is perfect as-is. Just my 2 cents. 🙂

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  8. Oh but I do agree with Moimeme. Her refusal to the marriage proposal was WAYYYY too harsh. There was no reason to say that part “Aapka putra ek aurat ke peeche chhupne wala Mahavir hai” (watched only the Hindi version), which translates to “Your son seems to be a great warrior who is actually just hiding behind a woman”. Okay fine, maybe she was justified in her anger. The son’s name was not mentioned, there no portrait, and then there was that uncouth emissary. She must have felt that she was being bought and that the Rajmata was condescending to her. However, I don’t see the point of all those insults to Bhalla personally. She knew nothing about him. And yes, it was also highly irresponsible of her as she did indeed issue an open invitation to war, so to speak, when a typical insult among warrior clans usually lead to crossed swords at the slightest insinuation.

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  9. Oh also Margarte, his name is Kumara Varma, not Gaurav 🙂 I forgot to point that out. And I just wanted to add, I love this part and agree with it 100%- The power of Mahishmati, the anger of Sivagami, even her love for Amarendra, it has no effect on what she is herself. She will not bend, she will not mix in, she will not homogenize with the rest of the people around her.

    Sorry I have spread out my opinions in my original comment and as replies to others. The moment I saw there was a Devasena-centric post, I was rearing to go 😀

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  10. You know I’ve been thinking a lot about Devasena and I think one of the reasons why I’m so disinclined to see her as a force on the side of justice and greater good is because everyone else uses very specific logical reasons for their actions and in comparison Devasena sticks out like a sore thumb. In the first court scene too, Amarendra recalls a specific instruction from Sivagami that forms the basis of his interpretation of why Sivagami was wrong.

    I see her as a villain not just in the entire story but also in her own personal story. The issues created by her badtameez nature ultimately hurt the ones she loves the most. She would be surrounded by drama and destruction wherever she goes because she is the one creating it with her words. She looks like someone with hysterical personality disorder. She doesn’t need an equally stubborn and erroneous Sivagami to accelerate her tragedy. She’s capable of doing it for herself. This is my take on her. Again. LOL. (Don’t ban me for this 😛 )

    – Had Amarendra never gone on the deshatan and never met her and the proposal happened exactly as it did, it would still result in Sivagami issuing a declaration of war based solely on the rude reply. I stick to “Devasena should have been more diplomatic in the refusal”. You’re a princess, not a bartan wali bai! You’re supposed to be more graceful and elegant in your choice of words than a repressed working class woman because you represent your kingdom and not just yourself! Violent verbal diarrhea isn’t an attractive look on anyone anyday.

    For one, it wasn’t Sivagami that offended her. It was Amartya. If your sister offends you while giving you a message from your brother, you don’t go shouting at your brother and then claim moral high ground for having insulted him.

    Sivagami sent what would be a very standard proposal for an arranged marriage in royal circles. A lot of gifts for her renowned Kalakeya-defeating son’s future bride with a whole baraat. The proposal didn’t come with an “or else” and it didn’t come with a threat of war. How else are formal marriage proposals sent anyway? And for Kshatriya vivah, where the party is supposed to return with the bride married to the guy’s rajtalwar, is the onus of asking about the groom’s nature, character, and qualities NOT on the bride’s family?

    They sent an entire contingent that could be asked to elaborate on the groom’s qualities. Do they ask a single person what their prince is like? Was Sivagami supposed to assume they would not ask those questions? Also, NOT Sivagami’s fault either that this ignorant little kingdom makes no attempts to stay abreast of current affairs and don’t educate their princesses in diplomacy.

    – She’s a good warrior. But she’s a good warrior only when she needs to defend herself plus a small group. She’s not a battle strategist and she’s not a defender of castles. This, to me, is her child-like thinking and immaturity and inexperience and not necessarily a character flaw. Kuntala is a sitting duck against invaders. Despite having just encountered/laid trap for the Pindari and knowing they were close by, she makes no effort to beef up security for her kingdom.

    That’s because she can’t think in larger picture terms. And there’s plenty of evidence to support her immaturity. You can’t fault a child for not being able to think on those larger scales but you can’t also credit them with it when they don’t possess this ability at all. Devasena doesn’t have the mental capacity to even have that in her mindscape. She just wants what she wants and she uses insults and screaming to get it.

    – Her misdirected anger is my biggest beef with this character. I get that she was angry with Sivagami during their first meeting. But Devasena carries that anger to all future interactions. She is prejudiced against Sivagami and she constantly hurls abuses at her in meeting after meeting after meeting. We have a saying in Hindi “Dhobi se jeet na paye toh gadhe ke kaan umethe”. She can’t “win” against Bhallala and his authority so she chooses Sivagami as her punching bag. REPEATEDLY. Not fair. Wherever Sivagami doesn’t have jurisdiction, she cannot be held liable on legal or moral grounds. The mindset that claims “But Sivagami should have counseled her son the king better” or “Sivagami is responsible for her adult son and king’s actions” is the same one that blames wives for the misdeeds of their husbands. Which I strongly object to.

    – She is a horrible example of a consort for a king: So imagine Amarendra’s reign as king in a world where Sivagami accepts her without question and with love. Devasena is all “my way or the highway”. We see that after the Kuntala battle. If something doesn’t align with her views, she yells, abuses, insults, physically hits. She doesn’t persuade, counsel, make logical/legal appeals. She’s a diva. She throws tantrums and resorts to physical violence if she dislikes something. What does that mean for a queen? Kings and queens and queen mothers and reagents need to have a cool head and a capacity for logical thought. If Sivagami’s hotheadedness is villainous and erroneous so is Devasena’s.

    – She’s no reformer and she’s no voice for change: In the films, she gets to know Mahishmati has horrible laws and a very flawed legal system (as interpreted by others) on day 1 of her arrival there. Devasena has 6-7 months after Bhallala’s coronation where her husband is Head of the Armed Forces (before they’re banished) Does she bother trying to reform the constitution she so hates? Does she bother even getting to know the laws of the land since she’s going to be a member of the royal counsel as future QM? She doesn’t. She’s busy princessing. I hate princesses that devote more time to princessing than education. And we already know she prefers princessing (even if it is warrior princessing back home). She probably finds books boring. Which is why she cannot use laws and logic to counter Sivagami and which is why she couldn’t have a defense plan in place for Kuntala. If it was her job to protect crops from boars and if it was her job to hunt down bandits without much help it was pretty much her job to put a defense plan in place. And as soon as she gets married, she suddenly doesn’t want to be a warrior at all either. She just wants to princess. LOL.

    – Her ambition is unbridled. She “falls” for Amarendra when she feels his hands. She can tell this guy is a somebody. She doesn’t fall for the cute retarded boy crap. She falls for the “he’s deffo a somebody”. She never bothers to investigate her suspicions. (If she KNOWS he’s a somebody, she doesn’t bother finding out what he’s doing in Kuntala undercover. He could be dangerous. But she’d rather just flirt. Because she’s a child and she can’t think beyond her pleasure)

    At her intro in Mahishmati, there’s a case to be made for her ambition again. Was she bothered by the fact that Sivagami chose her for the General (a demotion for her) when she thought she was getting the King? Her smirk at the coronation (hearing public support for Bahubali) and her outburst at the baby shower support this theory. She isn’t content with her husband being “just” a prince of Mahishmati. (Her husband is totally fine with this btw!) She wants him to be king. Would Amarendra be any less of a man without his title? Would he stop working for the public without a top post? Bhallala couldn’t fire him from the royal family. Nobody can. Like Bajjala, Amarendra would remain in the royal counsel with his child being in the line for the crown till even after Bhallala’s own child is born. But that’s not enough for Devasena.

    She looks visibly aghast when she hears about the banishment. Amarendra has to literally drag her out of the court. She didn’t want to leave the palace. Even at the steps of the palace, Amarendra sheds his jewels first. There could have been a very lovely moment where Amarendra is taking a moment coming to terms with how much the public loves him and she sort of gives him a loving look saying “it’s ok, let’s give up this life and go live with the peasants.” This moment isn’t there. She tows Amarendra’s line but how convincing it is given she just told him he needs to overthrow and replace the king a few weeks ago is anybody’s guess.

    Even when she meets Mahendra, she wants her revenge and the kingdom back first. No “I missed you son” no “let me take a good look at you, you look just like your dad” no “gimme a hug, I’ve been waiting for you and nobody believed me when I said you weren’t dead”. None of that. She doesn’t care about those things. She cares about taking down Bhallala and having her child be king. She’s been planning her revenge for 25 years, not meeting her son.

    It doesn’t matter to her that this long lost son might get killed if he waltzes into war without a proper strategy in place. It doesn’t matter to her because a) she’s least bothered about defense/battle plans because she can’t think in those larger picture terms, and b) it is more important to her to flaunt her regained status to Bhallala than winning the war (walking into a battlefield dangling Bhadra’s head when you know fully well the king has a full army and you can’t do warrior princess anymore is just plain stupid! She does turn out to be the chink in their armor and gets herself captured. First rule of war: don’t bring the women and children to the frontlines! Devasena wants to show Bhallala up more than anything!)

    – There are no tender moments between Mahendra and Devasena. She leaves the mothering bit to Sanga even at the coronation. How convenient now that the QM title is secured! I would read that as her magnanimity but then again there are no bonding moments between Devasena and Mahendra to prove she cares for that bit at all. And if she can leave the mothering bit to Sanga she can also leave the QM bit to her can’t she? Does she though? Nope, she sticks to the silly little Mahishmati laws that guarantee her a place in the administration. Sanga can very well be the QM too. Sivagami was Amarendra’s adoptive mother too not birth mother. Funny how Mahishmati laws are suddenly not so bad for Devasena when the crown is in her hands.

    – She isn’t the catalyst, she’s an accelerant. Amarendra’s “rebellion” began long before Devasena came into the picture. I take the Kalakeya war as a reference point for this. He disregards the pre-battle sacrifice tradition and instead interprets it in his own way without breaking the tradition entirely. He’d started doing his own thing long before he met Devasena. The plot for his assassination was laid in Bhallala’s mind long before Devasena came along. She didn’t start the fire. She just made it easier for his rivals to cut him down. The conflicts would happen anyway even without her there.

    – I both hate and love the vow scene after the Kuntala battle. I love it because it’s such a tender moment. And I hate it because she so “pal mein tola, pal mein masha”. Her reaction to being presented with new bits of information in a single conversation is so extreme it almost looks like she’s got a mood disorder (she does feel a little bipolar in how she flies off all the time later on).

    – If you replace Amarendra with Bhallala in her story arc and she remains the same character essentially speaking the same words, she would not be considered the heroine. Independently studied, her character isn’t as adorable. I suspect we love her only because we love Amarendra.

    (Sorry for the loooong comment. I’m going to be stuck at work all day and I’m using my lunch break for this!!! Please don’t kick me off the blog !! 😛 )

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    • I do agree with you on the rudeness point but a bitter truth is always better than a sweet lie. Devasena had a havit of consistantly saying the right things in the wrong way but you can’t find faults in her logic. I think as Indians we are brought up with jist so much tameez that we would rather lay on lying praises to elders than come out and say the truth up front.

      Let’s not forget that she was brought up a princess and of ofcourse she would have some ego. Heck even Shivgami commented that she is just like her ( Ahankar shobha deta h). The qualities we admire in a young Shivgami can all be seen in Devsena. You need to be brutal sometimes to protect yourselves and your kingdom from the “kapti bedhiyas”.
      Shivgami rejected several so called sanskari and susheel princesses because they lacked the spark to stand up for their right. Devsena without her flaws would have a joined the pleathora of adarahwadi naris who wait for men to take charge of the situation ( basically a trophy wife!!). She wouldn’t have what it takes to wait for 25 years for her son to return. Rather than becoming a sappy mother whose world revolves around her son forget the world, she is a fitting queen mother who wants her son to liberate the people from the cruel rule of Bhalla.

      I also disagree with you on the princessing around thing too. The Pindari attack was not a planned or noticeable one. Unlike Kalkeys nobody stole military secrets and gave them an oppotunity to be prepared fir battle. Heck even Amarendra was caught by surprise.

      She is also right in burning his outer clother to reveal hos armour after the battle. She was being threatened of wrongful imprisonment by her supposed savior. Of course she had the right to know who he was working for. Her fighting skills might look childlike in comparison to Amarendra but it is more than enough than other normal warriors. There is nothing wrong in learning and improving your skills if you aren’t perfect.

      She wasn’t unhappy for concerned for herself being the denied the titke of queen rather she knew her husband deserved it more than anyone else. Her disappointment is not in her leaving the castle but that Amarendra had to leave his home because of her. She is was concerned about royalty and comfort she might as well have returned to Kunthala where she was a princess than live among paupers. Infact it is a custom in Telugus that the child is born in his matetnal home but she stayed back because bahubali and people mattered more to her.

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      • Re tameez: Everyone else in the story follows plenty of tameez. Sivagami calls her kapati once (during the banishment trial) and Bhadra says she ran away lusting for a young man when they’ve held Mahendra captive after the escape. For that Mahendra cuts off his head. So in the same universe, insult to mother is punishable by death (happens twice, the first time in the Kalakeya battle) but we’re supposed to accept that Devasena can get away with insulting the mother (the same words from a man would garner a beheading for sure!) because she’s a woman? That doesn’t add up!

        Sivagami and Bhallala don’t insult her first. She has no right to insult them either. Saying the right things in the wrong way sounds like “Let’s agree to disagree” not “chup kar b*&@#)d!!” The latter is still a valid point just put across really, really rudely. LOL That’s how it works viz tameez. And royals need to be diplomatic.

        Re ego: Well, if being royal gives you permission to be an egotist then Bhallala and Sivagami are also right in holding onto their egos against her.

        re her waiting: She doesn’t have a choice in that as she is held prisoner by Bhallala. And she goes from warrior princess who could trap and beat bandits to old lady who can barely get up. She had Kattappa’s support and she could have rebelled long ago. She doesn’t. She waits. For her son. That’s very “mere karan-arjun aayenge” no? LOL

        Re Pindari: Amarendra and Kattappa notice the dead bodies in the river just before they run into her. She traps bandits meaning she knows the situation on the ground. How does she miss intel about the Pindari killing civilians? We see Amarendra seeing the cattle and the herders and the damn. He already had a defence plan in his mind in case of an attack. That’s because he’s been trained to think like a warrior. Devasena is an amateur.

        re her burning of his clothes: Well he wasn’t happy with it was he? He looks up in anger when that happens. He wasn’t threatening her at that point. He just told her what the super secret message that came with the hawk was. She snaps and hits him before he can explain. Who does that?

        Re her love of the title: Well, Amarendra was happy doing his bit. He doesn’t complain. Is it not ambition to yell at your husband in front of everyone telling him he needs to upgrade his job? And it isn’t her choice to stay at the village. That’s Amarendra staying put. He wants to stay and do whatever he can. He doesn’t want to be a ghar jamai. Makes sense too, Devasena insulted Bhallala by asking him to be a ghar jamai just 10-11 months ago. What kinda self-respecting man would go live at his in-laws when his wife has very specifically used the ghar jamai thing as an insult not so long ago?

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        • I love that “mere Karan-Arjun ayega” is now an adjective. I will probably be stealing it at some point. Although I have to say, even in Karan-Arjun the original, I thought that was a pretty weak plan. You are just going to live in a temple, being insane, for 20 years? Waiting for your reincarnated sons to return? Not going to the police or poisoning Amrish’s well or anything like that?

          On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 6:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I hadn’t thought about the maternal home thing. Which the film subtly reminded us of, when she asked Kattappa to be the baby’s “grandfather”. Rather than going back to the embrace of her family during this difficult time, she stayed in Mahishmati, even if it meant making a friend of her husband’s into the “grandfather” position. Yes, her parents were dead, but surely there was some older man in Kuntala that she had a bond with that would have been a more natural symbol of the baby being welcomed by the mother’s family.

        On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 5:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • I would never kick you off the blog! what I love is that you, and the other handful of commentators in the lonely brave “Devasena is awful” camp have been unfailingly respectful of everyone else, and defended your position with logic and examples from the film. And I hope our overwhelming majority has been similarly nice to you!

      I got distracted by one thing in your comment, I think the Kuntala palace did have some form of defenses set up. All those passage ways weren’t by accident. Devasena was able to hold off most of the army singlehanded because the only entry point was a narrow hallway. And the small band of defenders could hold off the army while Baahu did stuff because they only had to guard one gate.

      Which doesn’t go against your original point that Devasena was not shown as being great at defense, i just got interested when I started thinking about how the set designers/Rajamouli designed the Kuntala palace and grounds in a way that showed it was built with defense in mind.

      On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 3:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Thank you!! 😘 😘 😘

        Re Kuntala’s defenses: My only reason for holding Devasena accountable for the defense is because she’s so proactive in offense. She lays the trap for the bandits and she goes boar hunting. She’s a proactive girl filling the role of a prince. I hate that she needs to get rescued by a much, much strategically superior Amarendra. He wins the battle for her. Singlehandedly. Yes there’s the hallways scene but that’s just one scene.

        I read some article criticising the film as three hours of Prabhas porn a few months ago. When we see these little missing bits from the roles of other actors in the film, you see why reviewers would say that.

        Of course, I’m just dying to read Amarendra’s post now. I imagine it would be so so difficult just collecting your thoughts on him since he’s been discussed so much. You’ve said in the BB posts intro that you didn’t want to be influenced by reviews so you didn’t read any when doing the posts.

        I hope the post comes out exactly like the character made you feel!!

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    • I have to echo Margaret and say I think all of us Devasena fans love having y’all around! It means we aren’t blinded by our partiality and makes for better discussion, haha 🙂 That said, a few quibbles?
      – I guess with the court scene, I still find more fault with Sivagami. Devasena is the only one I see trying to make conciliatory actions: she is the one who apologies, Sivagami never does (despite her clearly disproportionate reaction!) Even after the mixup becomes clear, she never takes a minute to apologize to Devasena or at least express some sympathy for the awkward situation. Nope, instead Devasena is completely ignored while Sivagami talks to her son to convince to give Devasena up, without even bothering to ask Devasena’s opinion, even though she’s standing right there! And I think for the 26year walk at the end to make thematic sense, a plot point has to be that Devasena never is treated as the royal daughter-in-law: at the coronation, she’s lumped in with the other dignitaries (compare Tamannah at Mahendra’s coronation; I’m not saying Devasena should have been front and center, but as Amarendra’s fiancé, she at least should have had some acknowledgement as a member-to-be of the royal family), she doesn’t get the right to enter the temple through the royal family’s gateway. Sivagami doesn’t treat her particularly well, I don’t think, and conversely, I don’t think Devasena is under any obligation to be nice to her!
      – I don’t see how Devasena likes “princessing” over anything else? I feel like that’s one thing you can’t accuse her of – she’s consistently shown to be out helping people, even when exiled, as opposed to sitting around all day. And as far as what she does after marriage wrt being a warrior, we don’t know because we don’t see her when she’s not heavily pregnant. For all we know, she spent every day helping Amarendra train soldiers and going on campaign with him and literally put up her sword the day before the baby shower because someone pointed out she was five months pregnant! By that logic, maybe she spent six months drafting a new constitution that Sivagami tore up without looking at it! We don’t know, because we don’t see those scenes, and I’m not sure it’s fair to judge her by it?
      – I’m confused how her knowing that Amarendra is a warrior from his touch means she is ambitious? Because that’s literally all she says. For all she knows, he is a down on his luck fighter who hasn’t any money or position to his name — and she’s still clearly ready to marry him. If anything, when she finds out who he is, she looks like she’s caught between throwing up and throwing herself off the wall.
      – speaking of which, when Devasena sets him on fire, I didn’t notice Amarendra looking mad at her as much as resigned that the freedom of his masquerade was over, that the weight of having to be the future king instead of the random simpleton servant was settling back on his shoulders. And as for her anger? I’d say it’s understandable: she literally agreed to marry this man, trusting her instinct that he is a good person who loves her, when he pops up with the news that he’s actually been sent to capture her. All of sudden, that calls all of his motivations in question – and note too that she’s fine with him dodging her question about who he is, and she asks twice before just deciding to go for his armor instead. He’s just declared himself a danger to her and her kingdom, and under those circumstances, her taking drastic action is warranted.
      – oh, and finally, can you really blame her for being aghast when they are banished? To put it into perspective, this isn’t just “you can’t be royal anymore.” This is in one second, you and your husband have lost your home, lost all family support in the area (other than Kumar Varma, what little he can offer), all your money, and the only job that you or your husband have been trained for your entire lives –plus, you’re six months pregnant. I don’t think she would have minded if it was just them, but I think any mother would panic a little bit in that situation! Even in the modern day, having a baby is stressful enough without adding a lack of resources or support to the mix. (And the thing is, Devasena doesn’t leave. Even in the epics, there’s a tradition of wives returning to their parents’ houses when their husbands are exiled (the wives of the Pandavas besides Draupadi) – and Sivagami’s order is only that they have to leave the Mahishmati palace, and says nothing about Kuntala. Yeah, Amarendra might not go, but if Devasena was really in it for ambition, she could easily have left him (as other people mention, the tradition of having your baby in your parents home would have given her an excuse), and resumed her place as heir apparent of Kuntala; but she doesn’t. She lives in a little cottage, has her child unattended by official physicians and just regular midwives, and appears perfectly happy. I just have a hard time seeing ambition playing a role in that.
      – oh wait, I almost forgot! When she first sees Shivudu, she is tearful and reaching out to him, remember? He just gets knocked out, then caught up in the fight, then they’re all distracted by Kattappa proclaiming him heir and going into his story. But if Shivudu hadn’t gotten knocked out, it’s pretty clear Devasena is working up to what you expected, a ” Oh my son, you look just like your father, etc”

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      • It’s a true testament to the characterization of these characters that we can be in totally opposition in our take on these characters and neither of us is incorrect in the position we take!

        I guess this is an agree to disagree moment for me. Maybe I’m more of a statist than I realize.

        Or maybe it’s just that I’ve begun to look at things from the administration’s point of view of late. I even look at protests in real life and wonder how horrible it must be for the security forces that are responsible for controlling those situations and how they’re the first ones getting shat upon if things go south!

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    • So many good points here. Some I disagree with as well. The most beautiful thing about the story is – Devasena is unapologetically who she is – good or bad – and it is all parts of her character including her volatility that Amarendra falls for. She could be all coy and smitten one moment, and proudly walking over his shoulder in the next, and Amarendra loves that unpredictability. It’s tragic that the circumstances are such that it inevitably leads to their doom, but a rift between Amarendra and Sivagami was always on the cards once he fell for Devasena, Bhalla being who he is or otherwise.

      In Devasena’s defense, what offends her about the proposal is the fact that Sivagami sent all this display of wealth and power without even bothering to send a portrait of the prince or talk about his achievements or even mention who the heck he is. But surely Kuntala ought to have heard of the great Kalakeya battle and Amarendra Baahubali and Bhallaladeva? A polite – do you mean Baahu or Bhalla – might have sufficed.

      She didn’t need to be a battle strategist. She is not the commander of the army. Their king seemed pretty out of depth in the battle as well. They are a small outlying satellite kingdom, not often needing to defend itself (but all the more reason she had to be more diplomatic towards Mahismathi).

      And also, IMO, everything she does, she does for Amarendra, not because of her ambition. She is proud when she hears him take the oath as commander of army, not king. She is proud when he is serving his people in exile. She never EVER looks at him once like she is disappointed he is not the king – to her, he is all that and more. What gets to her repeatedly (and in a way to us as the audience as well) is that there is nobody to defend him in this supposedly great kingdom, that everything runs according to the whims and fancy of this egomaniac queen mother (to her), don’t they see the value and virtue of this great man? How can they not see it?! That’s the place she operates from most of the time. She is willing to defend him, to fight for him, to stand up and oppose the rest of the world if needed, whatever it takes to make the world see what she so obviously sees. It’s her undying loyalty towards Amarendra, but she just goes about it entirely the wrong way.

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      • That last point, that’s another thing that feels very human to me. Because that’s what in-laws do! They come into an established family structure and say “Hey, I only care about one person here above all others and you are not being fair to him/her.”

        On Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 9:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. Asmita, you do make very compelling arguments. So much so, I was covering my eyes exclaiming “No No NOOOOOOO! I cannot read this!” as I do not want to hate Devasena. So I actually took a break from writing here :p However I am happy that my love for her remains unaffected, hehe.

    Just a few points:

    Feeling the touch of his hands most certainly did not reek of her “ambition” to me. All she said was she recognized them to be that of a warrior’s. A warrior can be just as much a lowly rank-and-file soldier as a prince.

    The bandits who attacked, they weren’t Pindaris. I remember refer to them as “Kuch lootere”. So I don’t think she needed to beef up security at Kuntala. In fact I would say Kattappa and Amarendra are more culpable here, as they had seen the floating bodies in the stream and known they were nearby.

    As for all the argument about her being a hypocrite if she upholds existing laws, I don’t think she ALWAYS criticised them or rather criticised ALL of them. It was just in the courtroom scene when she was referred to as ‘doshi’ and chained that she lost her mind and gave that whole diatribe about the laws of the land. I could be wrong, but the conflicts before that were mostly on idealistic issues: Sivagami completely dismissing her right to choose a husband for herself, talking about her marriage as if she is not even around, her mute inaction when he was stripped of the Sena Adhyaksh title etc.

    You have also mentioned that she was “dragged away” from the court after the exile sentence was announced. Not at all!!! You can clearly see on her face that her grief was for her husband, not at having to leave the palace. As for the slowness of her movements, she is heavily pregnant. Not at any point did it seem like she was being “dragged out”. It seemed more like she was chastised and had an ‘Oh no, does Baahu hate me now?’ look on her face? She genuinely looks guilty.

    Also I think you have said Baahu has no problem with being appointed Army Commander. Neither does she. It is a good few months until the baby shower after Bhalla’s coronation and even then she gives a very welcoming smile to Sivagami once she comes in. There isn’t a trace of snarkiness/unfriendliness in her smile. It is Sivagami who gives a very token “The child in your womb is the future heir of Mahishmati. Take care” right after she completely ignores Baahu. I maintain that Devasena’s anger was because her husband had been insulted, first and foremost. It is only then that all the resentment comes to the fore.

    Yes, I too would have liked for there to have been more displays of emotion from Devasena to Baahu. But she does reach out to him with nothing but the most tender expression on her face in the first movie, when he has just rescued her and she is bundled up in the chariot. Her gesture is the same as Sivagami’s gesture of reaching out to touch Baahu’s head after she learns of his wrongful killing. That gesture was of unbridled love, nothing else, IMO. Also, maybe she thinks all the love can come later? Right now preparations for war are more the need of the hour seeing as how the king’s son has been beheaded and she has gone missing, surely a war is about to break out anytime soon? It is not her revenge she seeks so much as an end to all the horrendous happenings under Bhalla’s rule. And she is confident that her wait of 25 years will pay off, so there will be time for love later.

    I may have missed responding to some of the points you raised. However, #IStillLoveDevasenaForever 😀 😀

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      • Love your comments always!!

        You know I didn’t start out hating her. She was my favorite after Amarendra when I watched the films ghe first two times. But I guess familiarity does breed contempt. After the third ir fourth time, I couldn’t unsee her flaws. At least what look like flaws to me now.

        I’ve said this in another comment above and on other threads in other posts but I do believe the editing of this film may be responsible for some characters feeling “off” in subsequent rewatchings.

        Maybe it’s that you pay more attention to the acting or to the script and you sort of get something tou didn’t notice before. Like Amarendra’s anger after she burns his tunic. Prabhas uses the same expression for Amarendra a lot. And the set of expressions is always used to show controlled anger. Similarly, Anushka uses the smirk/smile a lot and usually it’s in scenes where she’s showing pride/arrogance. I guess sometimes those little connections just spark a whole different interpretation for a scene and that changes what I thought of a character.

        I still enjoy the character immensely. In fact I think I like her more when I think of her as an accidental villain. I’m still in the process of discovering what i truly feel about Amarendra. I’m quite convinced I’m not hero worshipping him anymore. But then again I do love Devasena and Amarendra and Sivagami and Bhallala more when I see them as somewhat opposite of what they looked like from the first viewing!!!

        I’m just that weird! My lit professor would be so proud though! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hahaha! Your Lit professor most definitely would be proud 😀

          For quite sometime I was perfectly content just reading these posts and the comments. But soon enough, seeing comments by the regulars; you, Avani, Siva, Pfan R, Mira Ranjana, Moimeme and of course, Margaret, I couldn’t resist but plunge in. All of you guys are awesome 😀

          Yeah I see how her smile/smirk can be misinterpreted. Doubtless, Devasena is arrogant. What redeems her in my eyes is her lashing out/arrogance/anger does not manifest for petty reasons or for purposes of emphasising her authority (contrary to Sivagami). At the root of it all is a woman of quite impeccable character, who defends the weak, cares for the citizens in her kingdom and never once does she behave like a spoilt brat unless provoked. She is sweet and friendly with her maidens, seems to share a great equation with her sister-in-law and her testing Kumar’s prowess with the sword and the log just seems like a playful game to me.

          When she first comes to Mahishmati’s court, her apology to Sivagami is sincere, she genuinely seems contrite. Of course, Sivagami too is magnanimous in accepting her apology, no doubt about that. What I just cannot get over is how Sivagami completely ignores her agency in choosing a husband, and does not even ask her how the misunderstanding occurred etc. She speaks like she is not even around! I understand her lashing out there, and in most of the other scenes. The way she seems completely unpretentious, non-entitled, and utterly HAPPY living a villager’s life during Jay Jaykara/Dandalayya is what completely redeems her in my eyes. Also I would like to introduce one new point in my pro-Devasena argument. You have talked about how she openly lashes out at Baahu everywhere and basically does not respect him. One would construe that as her wanting to be the alpha of the relationship. However, when they are exiled in the village, you notice how Baahu takes over the mantle of ruler/visionary/judge and she is perfectly content taking a backseat there? If she was truly arrogant and entitled, she would have tried to upstage him even there. She doesn’t even try. I find that very endearing 🙂

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          • Ha! I totally imagine my old classmates reading this and rolling their eyes like “Oh look she’s started with her rants and reading too much into things again!” LOL
            Re Devasena: You know I don’t hate her. And I don’t hate her because in my reading of her, she’s a child. I don’t know what her actual age is but since Amarendra is around 25-26 when he meets her, she can be anywhere between 16-26. I’m betting on her being close to her late teens because that’s how old an unmarried princess in the time period would be before there is some real urgency for her wedding.
            So, she’s barely out of her teens and she’s someone that grew up without her parents. We don’t know how they died but it isn’t some traumatic event that’s jarring enough for the public and the RF to remember and be sad about. I don’t even remember her parents getting a mention and there’s probably not even a portrait of them anywhere in Kuntala. That’s weird right? Maybe they took up sanyas and went to live in some ashram? Maybe they died of old age and Jay and Devasena were born late to them and their deaths are thus not a traumatic event.
            At any rate, Kuntala doesn’t have parent figures. It’s a kingdom run by children (humor me on this). I don’t know if you’ve been to weddings where the young siblings/cousins have organized the entire thing and elders didn’t interfere but you can totally see the difference in mood and tone and atmosphere when the show is being run by young people vs when it is being run by elders. I sort of get the same vibe from Kuntala. Jay and his wife are childless. Or they aren’t parents yet. This could mean they’re really young themselves since the matter of who’s our next heir isn’t even an issue there. In-universe, that’s a huge thing to not be worried about!
            They are a happy, singing, dancing kingdom which doesn’t even employ a full strength army. Look at the universe they’re in: it’s very militaristic. Look at their neighborhood. Singapuram is full of bandits and travelling mercenaries, Mahishmati has a proud military tradition and the Pindari are widely known to come through this area. There’s also the Kalakeya. I cannot stress the Kalakeya enough! Mahishmati isn’t that far away from Kuntala and if the Kalakeya with a hundred thousand-strong army they could wipe them off the face of the planet. What chances did this little kingdom with a tiny army have against them? And the Kalakeya attack on Mahishmati happened less than a few months ago! Why is Kuntala so unconcerned and unprepared militaristically? It isn’t justified in-universe at all!
            My theory is that Kuntala represents childhood and the innocence of it in this universe (the Kanna song!) Jay Varma, his wife, Kumar Varma and Devasena are children or at the very least adults that aren’t grown up enough. If it were really dark, it would be Lord of the Flies! And you really don’t see many elders in their court either! Where are all the elders, dude?!!
            Anywho, onto Devasena. So Devasena is a child who was raised by children around more children. She doesn’t see her lady’s maids as servants because children do not see and understand those differences. She has no concept of adulthood. That’s not to say that she’s an ass. That’s just to say the basic conflict is between the perspectives of the adult/elder Mahishmati and the child/teen Kuntala.
            When I say Devasena is a child, I do also mean that she embodies the best aspects of what being a child means- she is pure at heart, she doesn’t have sinister intentions, she holds onto her notions of right and wrong very strongly and like a child, she is impatient and impulsive.
            Also like a child she needs to yell to make herself heard. Anybody who’s ever argued with a child would know how difficult it is to reason with them when the matter is in shades of gray and the child cannot see beyond black and white. It is very difficult to explain gray areas to children. Tell a child what their rights are and they’ll be 30 before they even begin to see that adults have rights too and those rights need to respected by children as well. I believe the phrase “Because I said so!” was invented specifically for this purpose!
            I totally disagree with the notion that Devasena takes a stand for the greater good. I don’t think she has a concept of what the greater good is at all. How can she defend what she doesn’t even understand fully. She does stand for what is good and what she thinks is right but sadly, it isn’t “the greater good”. Like I said, she’s a child. She cannot think beyond what is of immediate concern for her and she definitely doesn’t think of repercussions.
            I back this up with these plot points:
            – Her reply to Sivagami: It is a declaration of war. Why would you issue a declaration of war when you’re a tiny kingdom with no army to speak of? In-universe, in Mahishmati, heads get chopped off just like that! There is no United Nations in place in this universe to negotiate peace. Why is Kuntala so cocky? Because they’re all children! Why does Devasena not consider the possibility of war? Because she’s a child and she doesn’t think her actions might have consequences.

            – Devasena likes everything on her own terms: Name one single instance where Devasena deliberately puts someone else’s needs before her own. Amarendra says come as my prisoner, and we really have to question Amarendra’s morality too here if we’re upholding Devasena’s as paramount, because he doesn’t question the order (and he was about to be king)

            For him there was nothing wrong morally in bringing her back as a prisoner. She wasn’t going to be chained at all. She wasn’t going to be thrown in a cell on some ship or made to walk behind Amarendra’s horse. It was just a term that was going to be used to describe Devasena till she’s at Mahishmati at which point I’m assuming Amarendra had planned to use some clever words to secure his marriage to hers. He was operating in a gray area. She insists on coming with him under a different label. ON HER OWN TERMS. It doesn’t matter ultimately because nobody at Mahishmati cares that she doesn’t walk into the court in chains. They’re assuming Amarendra brought her back as a prisoner and that’s what a political prisoner would walk into court looking like.

            – She doesn’t think about the larger implications of her actions and words: She doesn’t think a very rudely worded response would have a reaction, she doesn’t think calling Sivagami names would have a reaction, she doesn’t think telling her husband to rebel and take the crown by force would look like sedition (Seriously! WTH Devasena!! Declaring wars after wars!! Things are not looking up with you as QM), she doesn’t think chopping off the General’s hand would have consequences.

            She’s like “But mom, that kid pushed me so I bit him! Not my fault! I was right to do so!” If that’s your child, and even if the other child is an asshole, you just cannot say “Good job! You should have bitten harder. That kid deserves to bleed!” No. you’re an adult and you tell your kid, “We don’t go around biting people who push us. That kid does that again, you tell your teacher or you tell me. I’ll take care of that.” That’s how adults function. That’s how society functions.

            But Devasena has never been told that has she? She shoves what could have been a real retarded boy in front of a bull. He could have been killed. And she does that just to confirm a suspicion! We humor her. Like we humor children. Her own family humors her. Without the humoring part, she’s doing a lot of shady shit!

            – She doesn’t have the maturity to think of the greater good: Again, with the war-inciting reply, with her rudeness to Sivagami, with her incitement of sedition, with her maiming of Sethupathy, with her waiting for Mahendra to come with an army to kill Bhallala, Devasena never thinks of the greater good. She doesn’t do it deliberately but she isn’t thinking beyond what good for herself. She talks about what’s good for the Mahishmati praja once. JUST ONCE! Did she think of the praja of Kuntala when she wrote the reply to Sivagami? NOPE! Did she think of the praja when she refused to be rescued by Kattappa? NOPE!

            – She’s all me, me, me: For her, it’s all about my POV first, my interpretation of things is the only correct way of looking at things, my husband should be king because I think he deserves it, my child should come kill Bhallala so I’ll wait for 25 years while the praja is just fucked by Bhallala left, right and centre because my revenge is more important than their suffering! Even Jay Varma is focused on the rescue of Devasena more than the toppling of Bhallala. None of them are thinking of the greater good!

            I don’t think her bandit killing and boar hunting count as examples of her leadership. Because she can’t decide to be leader one second and then decide oh I’m not in charge of all defense when the Pindari attack. The boar hunt and the bandit hunt were both leisurely activities. Why else would she take Kumar Varma on those excursions if those were really life threatening/straining events? She knows he is a coward. Her smile/smirk indicates she’s humoring Kumar when he’s trying to act brave. He was never in any real danger out there. The situation wasn’t really dangerous. Of course the other angle is that both the situations WERE really dangerous but child Devasena couldn’t grasp how much danger she was putting Kumar in when she took him out there!

            – Devasena doesn’t fit in at Mahishmati because Mahishmati is an adult environment and she doesn’t understand it. Amarendra understands it. And I think we really need to contrast their characters or at least read them together to see how child-like or teenager-like Devasena really is. Maybe it is incorrect to read her with Sivagami.

            Right from the start, right from childhood, Amarendra puts others first wherever he could. He’s an old soul! He thinks of his mother’s safety during the puja when he picks up the scorpion, he puts Kattappa’s conscience at ease about being close to a prince by ordering him to be his friend, he protects civilians during the Kalakeya battle, he looks to minimize military losses by suggesting a defense plan that requires minimum hand-to-hand combat (even with the flying flaming blanket strategy), he finds a way around the sacrifice to protect the bull’s life, he puts Devasena’s honor first when he tells Sivagami she was wrong, he puts the comfort and safety of his people first when he does his engineering bit.

            He is the people’s prince and he has no issue putting others first. Devasena cannot put others first, she cannot see others’ point of view, she cannot accept anything less than what she feels is correct, she doesn’t even trust Amarendra to be correct in what he’s doing and what he has planned for them. And she isn’t doing it because she’s a bitch, she’s doing it inadvertently as a child or a teen would.

            As a woman, I find it condescending and patronizing when I see female characters getting excused for things they do. If a man was shown doing what Devasena does in the film, we wouldn’t worry about having to judge him. He’s a man, he can take it. If a Prince of Kuntala had insulted Sivagami in front of Amarendra, the guy would have lost his head then and there. Can you seriously imagine Jay or Kumar Varma telling Sivagami she’s doesn’t have any brains in front of Amarendra and them still standing there comfortably a few minutes later? I don’t see that happening at all. We excuse Devasena because she’s a woman and it’s traditional and patriarchal to excuse women when they have angry outbursts. You can even humor them. I find this attitude mildly insulting. This isn’t equality.

            If I’m judging Devasena as an adult, I can see her faults. If I look at her like a child or a teenager, I can see where she’s coming from. I’m happy that others can enjoy this character with a totally different interpretation of it. Maybe the darkness just appeals to me more 😛

            Again, I’m not aiming at offending the pro-Devasena camp here at all! All of you have given me amazing commentary to read!

            I’m sorry this comment is getting so long but I just want to compose my thoughts before I hit work.

            So now that we’re a few months into the BB madness and we’ve explored the characters and story in depth, I’ve begun to look at them like they’re my friends or people from my circle.

            I’m like “What would I feel if Amarendra was my BFF?” What if I was having a conversation with him while this was happening? I would probably tell him to go sort things out with his mom or offer to do that or have Kattappa go do it for him. I’d also tell him to go talk to this wife and explain to her what she’s doing wrong. If this happened to my BFF, and I was talking about this to our mutual friends 10 years later, I’d probably say she and Sivagami ruined his life with their fued and got him killed and he was too fuddu (pardon my French) to not see the Bhallala trap coming.

            If I were BFFs with Devasena… Well, I wouldn’t have kept in touch with her after a while because she’s bossy and she yells and abuses people when they say anything even slightly off what she expects them to say. If I met her after the baby shower I’d tell her “Dude, you can’t do that. You’ve got to learn to word things better. And stop telling your husband to hold a coup! That’s serious shit!” After which she’d probably yell at me too and we’d go a few years without speaking to one another. I’d meet her again at Mahendra’s coronation and she’d yell at me again because she’d remember and bring up every time I told her she needs to rethink what she’s doing.

            If I were BFFs with Sivagami, I would invite her for a girls’ night in, get her drunk and hold a massive bitchfest where she can talk her heart out. I’d let her bitch about the arrogant Devasena, her useless conniving husband, her bad marriage, her manipulative son, her other son who seems to have changed so much seemingly overnight, work issues etc. And in the morning, while we’re nursing our hangover, I would tell her she needs to go talk to Amarendra and try to get along with his wife.

            In no universe would I be friends with Bajjala. He’s an ass!

            If I were BFFs with Bhallala, I would tell him to stop obsessing over Amarendra. He would stop talking to me after that and I would not make an effort to maintain the friendship after the first glimpse of his homicidal tendencies. I might move elsewhere after he kills Amarendra because id know he did that.

            If I were BFFs with Kattappa, I would tell him to get Amarendra and Sivagami to talk. I would also tell him to shove his humility where the sun don’t shine and go give the complete information about whatever plot he can sniff to both Amarendra and Sivagami. I would probably be the one being sent to tell Amarendra about the plot and Amarendra would behead me for trying to turn him against his mother and king because I’d also be a slave and how dare I talk that way about the RF!

            If I were BFFs with Mahendra (I’m imagining myself as a guy here), I’d be roasting him with all our other friends like, “BC yeh kya ho gaya humari lives ka?!! Sala tu toh bhaag gaya aur udhar teri ma (Sanga) ne humari kya rail banayi that we didn’t stop you from climbing the waterfall!! Kutte bata toh deta kahan ja raha hai kya kar raha hai!! Patthar tudwaye BC teri ma ne aur maar maar ke laayi hai yaha tak. Harami sale woh ghaav bhare nahi the aur hum yaha pahunche toh tune war declare ki hui thi! Kamine tere peeche war karni padi! Ab tu sahab ban ke baitha hai yaha!! Waise King ban gaya bhai humara ab toh humare maze hi maze!!” I’d wink and Mahendra is blushing like “Saale mere ko kya pata tha yahan kya scene hai. Main toh bandi ke peeche aaya tha bhai!” and I’d be like “Waise bandi sahi hai yar! Lottery lag gayi bhai teri!” And Mahendra is like “Oye chup kar saale bhabhi hai teri!” And I’m like “chal theek hai. Ab yeh bata scene kahan banana hai? Yeh king log daru kidhar pine jate hain?” and Mahendra is like “Tum log yahi ruko, main Kattappa dada se pooch kar aata hoon!” LOL

            If I were BFFs with Avanthika, I’d tell her “Well I know you like him because he’s good in bed and he kinda helped you out big and he’s the legendary lost prince and all, but dude, the guy’s life just got super complicated! Are you sure you’re up for it? For the last ten years all you’ve talked about is leaving this place behind and going backpacking across the Himalayas. Are you sure you want to skip that and just get married and get busy queening?” And she’s like “I don’t know anything yar, I like this guy a lot but he’s changed so much in the past few days. He isn’t the fun guy I met in the mountains. Maybe I should tell him to take a break and see where things go. I do want to take that trip and if I’m queening I’d never get to do that!” And I’d be the BFF that helps her write the breakup letter! LOL

            HAH!! You all need to do your versions of this last part!! I’d love to hear what all of you would tell these characters if you were their BFFs!!!

            Oh god this comment got so long! Sorry Margaret! 😛

            Liked by 2 people

          • Tell a child what their rights are and they’ll be 30 before they even begin to see that adults have rights too— haha. I am 25. Maybe that is why I empathise more with Devasena., going by your logic Closer in age and all that :p

            Completely agree about Amarendra being an old soul. To me he is the closest embodiment of the word ‘Perfect’. Simply too pure for the world he was born and raised in.

            Your post is very rich and very long and will require a lot of time to reply to, if I were to address each individual point. Love the BFFs idea though. Sivagami badly needs a girls’ night in, poor one 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  12. @ Asmita – I really like your analysis comparing Kuntala to children and Mahishmati to adults. Rajamouli might have chosen to not showing Devasena’s parents because its better to have fewer characters budget wise and story wise. But his one big mistake or not doing homework is ‘Kuntala is a client state of Mahishmati but Kuntala RF doesn’t know about Amarendra’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not sure what you mean by Kuntala not knowing about Amarendra? If you mean how can they not have known him by sight and so recognized him, can’t say if pictures/portraits of even famous kings was that common in those times. But they did acknowledge they had heard of him after Kattappa tells all who he is and kneel.

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      • Kuntala didn’t know who Sivagami’s son was. She didn’t say which son. I didn’t say they didn’t know about Amarendra. Kuntala should have known about both. Maybe not through portraits but through official briefs.

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        • Well my comment was in askance of Siva but anyhoo I meant that at best one can reasonably expect that Kuntala does know Mahishmati Rajamata has two sons called so and so but not necessarily by sight. Which is what I assume Siva calls a mistake by the makers and I don’t agree with. Not really a mistake.

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  13. Asmita, main aa gaya! 😀 (aa gayi, rather) I will attempt to do an ‘If I was BFFs with xxxx’ like you did. Hope I do it a modicum of justice :p

    If I was BFFs with Amarendra: First of all, I’d need to be male and a straight one, at that. Because seeing as how much I LOOOOOVE him, I cannot be BFFs with him in my female form :p I will just stare at him like a lovestruck-puppy and be all “Yes, whatever you say is correct. Whatever you do is correct. I will hang onto your every word like my life depends on it. I will commission an artist to paint a 100 portraits of you and store them all over my house” and so on forth. Okay I should stop here 😀

    So if I was Amarendra’s male BFF, I would first go looking for him, when the Mahishmati emissary has arrived with that huge proposal. I have always wondered where Baahu was during that time and how Kattappa managed to tell him about the proposal only late at night, right before the Pindari attack. Anyway, I would go looking for him and tell him just what is up and be like “dude, baldie out there is ruining your chances, and Devasena bhabhi just dictated a highly inflammatory letter to Sivagami aunty. Damage control needed. RIGHT NOW!.”

    Bhalla’s BFF: I would try to get him to be nicer to people. I would tell him things like “Look, Sivagami aunty already has a soft spot for your little brother. Be a little sweeter, go out into the village and at least pretend to be concerned about the people, play with the little kids. I’ll help you put on a facade for everyone’s benefit. You are as strong and skilled as lil bro, and think about it, you are the elder son. The throne can well be yours, if you only pretended a bit. Oh. and let’s not go trying to win lil bro’s girlfriend for ourselves, hey? I know she’s pretty and all that, but there are other ways of getting the throne. Let’s keep things simple. Pretend to like the villagers, check. Try to steal chhote bhai ki girlfriend, uncheck.

    Devasena- If I was her BFF, I would try and be her behavioral compass. I’d keep telling her things like “I know what you’re like, I know you mean no harm and you have a clean heart. But babe. blow off whatever steam you have with me. It’s okay, I can take it. Much better than calling the eldest prince of your overlord empire an “aurat ke peeche chhupne wala Mahavir”, don’t you think? I know you were insulted, I know the emissary is an ass and that you felt like a commodity being bartered for gold. I know you love that sweet, stupid Shivu. But don’t go shooting off your mouth and inviting war to your doorstep. Let’s go for a walk before you send that reply. Let’s go do some archery practice for heck’s sake, it’ll help you blow off steam. And then we can send a more diplomatic reply.

    Sivagami- Assuming I am the same age as she is, I’d know how the menopause is hitting her. I’ll be like “yes yes, I know how it is. This young newbie on the block has charmed your beloved Baahu and all of a sudden your position as his main woman is under threat. Meanwhile you are getting older and are also starting to worry if your position as the Queen Mother is relevant anymore. You never thought your son would do a turnaround like this, telling you that you are wrong, in a packed courtroom at that. All for the new ladylove. I get that. But maybe, just maybe, he was not……all that wrong? Listen you have been in Mahishmati so long, holding things in an iron fist. How about we take a trip outside the kingdom? Just a two-day weekend perhaps. Some space will help get things into perspective. If you come back and are still angry with your golden son and his upstart wife, we can find a wife of YOUR choosing for that poor Bhalla. Then you and her can be a team while the upstart other bahu can eat her words. YAY!

    Bijjala- Dude you need to get over yourself. Your crippled hand is NOT the reason why you didn’t become king. Don’t pass on all the negativity to your son and try and make him a better person instead of making him an even bigger, more dangerous monster than you are. Yeah that’s right, I called you a monster. Kya kar lega? I know too much about you, remember? I am your BFF. Stop plotting against your nephew. Your wife already hates you, don’t make her detest you even more for this.

    I think I should stop here. I don’t have much to say about Avanthika in general, because her character never resonated with me. Kattappa, I have a lot to say about how he need not obey all orders blindly, think for himself at times, blah blah but everything would just be countered with “I am a slave, following orders is my job description. Yeh mitti ka dher ab is mitti ki amaanat hai” and all that. So, meh :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • ““dude, baldie out there is ruining your chances, and Devasena bhabhi just dictated a highly inflammatory letter to Sivagami aunty. Damage control needed. RIGHT NOW!.””
      Hahahahhaa…. I’m dying!!!!! Dude this is gold!!!!
      Devasena bhabhi and Sivagami aunty… i’m ROFLing so hard!!!
      Devasena deffo needs some BFF advice though doesn’t she?
      Just wondering if you’re a guy or girl when you’re Bhalla’s BFF.
      Poor old Shivu/Mahendra doesn’t even get noticed when Amarendra is in the picture!!! Even Margaret isn’t planning a post on him (poor thing gets relegated to the no-post-for-you-mister zone with Bajjala!!!) Suddenly Bhallaladeva’s insecurity and jealousy makes so much sense to me!! LOL
      Sidenote: What if Amarendra becomes an issue for King Mahendra? I always imagined the main conflict in BB3 as Mahendra trying to escape daddy’s shadow!

      Like

      • Oh I am a guy BFF for Bhalla, definitely. I think he cannot relate to women at all 😀 😀 it’s definitely a boys’ club for him. Devasena definitely needs BFF advice, someone to let off a little steam with and someone to tell her when she is taking things too far. I could do that :p

        Yes, Mahendra will have a hard time filling daddy’s shoes. In interviews, Prabhas himself has said “Mahendra is his father’s shadow” (so sad :D)

        However think anout it. After 25 years of Bhalla, the public will be happy to accept ANYONE, as long as he has a good heart and the welfare of people on his mind. Mahendra may be a little daunted at first, but I think he will do just fine eventually

        Liked by 1 person

    • Also “kya kar lega!!” HAH!!! Somebody should do a slang version of the script with lotsa BC/MC/Ch#%@ya/saala type of words!! My young college-age cousins (I’m 32 btw 😛 ) have such a colourful vocab and it’s hilarious when they do their skits with slangs.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I did enjoy the Devasena bhabhi and Sivagami aunty bit a lot!! 😁

      Sad that you completely ignored poor old Mahendra though! He’s getting ignored by everyone!! He’s not even getting his own post!! 😁

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          • I just saw that the reply I made earlier showed up. Don’t know if it was stuck in moderation but I totally thought that happened in my head… 😁 Gawd this saavan is becoming quite legendary already!!

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          • Stuck in moderation. If you “sign in”, don’t just enter your name, WordPress goes “Hey! It’s Asmita! Everything she says is smart, I will post it right away!”

            But if you put in your name and no email, or email and no password, or anything besides signing in, WordPress goes “Gee, this could be Asmita, or it could be someone else stealing her identity. Just in case, let’s put it in moderation and wait for Margaret to wake up and approve it.”

            Liked by 2 people

          • I had such a freak out over this.. I almost thought of quitting smoking the stuff.. 😁

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          • hahahaha….maybe take a little, little break from posting here? It can come to a point wherein your head is FILLED with Bahubali. I have had Bahubali dreams more times than I care to count, made arguments and rationalisations in my mind, and it can make one think one is going nuts 😀 😀

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s literally become a “jee lalchaye raha na jaye” kind of thing for me now… 😂 it’s definitely an escape from where the country is going for sure.. Sadme pe sadma.. 😢

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          • Ha! Just as I was thinking “Greenwich Standard Time? What does she mean?” I got an email from flipkart advertising a whole bunch of tax books. So now I can feel all in the know.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hah! My “work” has been revolving around the new tax regime sind rahe beginning of June!! I’m all set to be stuck in this till October!! 😥

            Like

        • Aaaaaand I’ve made like a gazillion comments on the Shivudu post too.. Christ!! I would be embarrassed if I weren’t so scared of these little gaps in memory… Yikes!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Bahubali Theme Post: Amarendra Bahubali, He Always Tries to Be Better | dontcallitbollywood

  15. Pingback: Final Bahubali Post! What Happened After the Ending? | dontcallitbollywood

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