Bahubali Theme Post: Amarendra Bahubali, He Always Tries to Be Better

Our final Bahubali character post, so sad!  And almost our final Bahubali post altogether (There’s one final one coming in a few days.  And of course the fanfic, I will be keeping that up, if only as a personal challenge to see if I can write a whole novel with a tiny cheering section of dedicated readers to help).  You can see all the Bahubali posts listed in one place in the index here.

Way back, before Bahubali 2 came out, when I was writing my posts on Bahubali 1, I said that the problem with the Amarendra character is that he didn’t seem to change.  He was perfect then, he would be perfect in future.  The Bhalla character was more interesting to me, because there was something more going on with him, we would get to witness the events that turned him from a promising youth, to a nutty old man.

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All of that was correct.  Amarendra wasn’t very interesting in Bahubali 1 because he had no seeming character growth.  But what I didn’t know at that time was how Bahubali 2 would show that the “perfect man” we thought we knew could be even more perfect.  Wanted to be even more perfect.

That’s the wonderful thing about Amarendra.  He never stops growing.  His view of the world, his abilities, his sympathy for others, his understanding of others, even just his pure love, is always growing.

Way back when I was a kid, my mother was reading a book on the founding fathers (or maybe just George Washington?  I’m not sure).  Anyway, one of the points of the author which my mother passed on to us was that Washington changed, in his attitudes and opinions, over his life time.  While Jefferson never did.  Specifically, in terms of slavery.

Most of the founding fathers of America were slave owners.  They had high visions of freedom and independence, but a massive blindspot in their personal lives.  No, “blindspot” isn’t quite right.  A massive mortal sin which will forever doom them to Hell, if such a place exists, no matter what other good they may have done in the world.

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(Also doomed our country in some ways, since the slaveholders forced a compromise on how voting power was distributed in order to give slave holders more power which has allowed for stolen elections in recent years)

Jefferson, the smartest founding father (architect, poet, statesman, brilliant) never fully expanded his views.  Yes, he suggested various laws to cut down on the slave trade.  And he more or less freed his own children.  And his daughter by his first wife later freed her stepmother.  But he did not free his slaves in his will, or during his life time.

But Washington, who was much less likely to write a brilliant document or charm foreign diplomats or any of those other “smart” things, did come to realize that his whole life was built on a massive guilt he would never be able to fully expunge.  He grew and changed slowly over the years, until finally, in his will, he freed all his slaves, 317 people.


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(Okay, technically he left his slaves to his wife Martha to be freed upon her death.  But it’s still way better than what Jefferson did!  And not that unusual, people are always capable of personal growth, a fair number of slave owners through out American history did come to realize they were wrong and freed their slaves voluntarily)

I think that’s why we love Amarendra.  Not because he is the smartest or the bravest or the strongest.  We love him because he is always growing, always believes that he could be a better person, that he should try to be a better person.

Not a better person like “I will study super hard and do the best on the med school application test!”  But a better person like “am I contributing all I can to the world?  Am I following the ideals I believe in as perfectly as possible?  Am I showing my love to my loved ones, am I showing my gratitude to those who love me?  Am I being properly humble, honest, courageous, fair?”

What makes it more poignant for us, the viewers, is that Amarendra is already so good.  He easily could sit back and say “I am already wise, brave, strong, good, loving, fair, I will just maintain what I have.”  But instead his actions say “Everyone and anyone can be better.  I am trying just like anyone else.”

What we see in the films is his change from a good person to a great person.  Not because of his specific deeds, but because of how he just keeps going, no matter what.  His willingness to admit a mistake, to look for a better way, to always contribute the best he can to any situation, that is what makes him Great.  It doesn’t matter where he started, or where he ended, the point is that he kept moving along on his journey.

(Notice in this song, he does all those “kingly” things, but a little bit more than he absolutely has to.  Picks flowers for children, continues his sword practice, etc.)

We see this all along in his small actions.  He looks at what is in front of him and says “How can I do this better?”  Even in his childhood, notice that before we see him seek out Kattappa to eat with him, we see him respectfully taking instruction from Kattappa.  He could have done just that, been respectful of him during their interactions, that alone would have been the “good” thing.  But he was not content with that, he wanted to be better, so he sought him out and went further.

When he is supposed to give a sacrifice, he chooses instead to take the pain on himself.  When he could either mow down innocents to reach the enemy, or give up and turn away, he finds another path in battle.  Those are small moments, and they didn’t come together in the first movie.  Because they didn’t show big changes, big things that would hurt him.  That came in the second movie.

He could have wooed Devasena as himself.  But that would have been “less right” than struggling to make her love him for his own person, not just all the strength and power around him.  He could have simply taken her prisoner and freed her later, but that would have been “less right” than promising to give her the respect she is due for all time.

Every time he makes the hard choice, and pushes himself to do the right thing.  Even when it means going against his mother.  That is what I meant by “courage”.  Not courage in battle, anyone can have that, your adrenaline gets going and you can get outside of yourself.  But speaking truth to power, to hold firm in your position no matter what mental pressure is put on you, that is real courage.

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(See his face here?  He is not angry or proud, he is steeling himself for something he does not want to do but believes must be done)

And true humility is trying to serve others where ever you go.  When he was the crown prince, he was the best crown prince he could be.  When he was the chief of the armies, he was the best chief he could be (notice the way he has his troops perfectly trained for the coronation).  And when he is merely the headman of a village, he does his best there too.  If he had been downgraded further and made into, I don’t know, a sweeper in charge of feces, I am sure he would have done the best work he could there, happy to serve people in this vital function.

As Amarendra slowly fell in worldly power, he gained more and more power within himself.  Adversity served as a chisel, sculpting him into a better shape.  Revealing the specific definition of his greatness, not just the broad strokes of it.

But most of all, it is that he tries.  He tries so hard all the time, and always for others, never for himself.

That is what changes as time goes on, he becomes ever more detached from wanting things for himself instead of others.  When we first meet him, he is the cocky young prince, enjoying seeing the world and dancing with bar girls.  Still a good person, wants to serve his kingdom, but also happy to do what he likes when it doesn’t seem to be harming anyone else.

He starts to change a bit in Kuntala.  Not through his love story, not directly.  But through living as a “common man”.  He happily works in the kitchens, takes orders, and later encourages Kumar Verma to be a better person and teaches Devasena an arrow trick and protects them from the Pindari attack, not because of the Glory of Mahishmati, but just because it is a good thing to do.

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(Here, this.  I don’t know if it would have occurred to him to do this earlier, before he had learned more fully the joy of using his strength to serve others)

And I think what he find out is that he likes that.  It feeds him in a certain way, to do what is right just because his own mind tells him it is right, without worrying about status or laws or the big picture.  That was the start of the change, and he just keeps changing.  He starts as a future king of a kingdom.  He ends as a man who is a King Among Men, no matter where he goes.

Amarendra is the heart and soul of the films, the one we love in a way that is rare among fictional characters.  To be loved so much, and so universally.  Children, young men, young women, old women, old men, we all love him.  More than any of the other characters I have already talked about, even his own son, or his wife, who are still “good” characters.  But they aren’t as loved somehow.

I think it is because he is the one that we feel is changing the most.  And changing FOR US.  For the women and the children and the common people.  Both the ones in the film and the ones watching the film.  He wants to be better so he can serve us better.

Sivagami is brave and wonderful and a good ruler.  But when she has the chance to force herself to be better, she turns away, prefers to remain where she is than go through painful change.  Bhalla and Bijjalla choose to change towards the bad, which makes us enjoy watching them but hate them.  Shivu starts to change for the better, but is not there by the end of the film, perhaps will never reach the same heights his father achieved in personal growth.  Devasena, as I mentioned in her post, never changes.  That is what she is, always herself, that is her role in the films as the steady rock around which everything else shifts.  Avantika is a mystery because we never really see her face the right kind of adversity, never fully see her change, it feels like we missed the start and end of her journey somehow and only got the middle.  Kattappa is perhaps the next most memorable character to Amarendra, and the one who is next most changeable.  Going from a proudly loyal soldier, to a joking loving uncle, to a broken man, to a man who has his strength renewed, in the course of just a few hours of screen time and 40 years of narrative time.

But really, it’s Amarendra.  He is the one we love.  Because he never stops trying.

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(Right to the end, he just wants to take care of his mother, reassure his uncle, and honor his kingdom.  Nothing for himself)



87 thoughts on “Bahubali Theme Post: Amarendra Bahubali, He Always Tries to Be Better

  1. Agreed, Amarendra always tries to be a better person and also brings out the best in Kumara Varma. Without Amarendra, Kattappa’s life would have been so dull.

    I also wanted to add that Amarendra is a firm adherer to dharma. In all his actions there was never one occasion where he resorted to adharma.


  2. So sad we are nearing the end of Baahubali character posts.

    Yes, the fact that Amarendra was constantly changing and changing for better, made us all mourn his death (well, I cant get over till this day).

    Unconditional love, showered on Amarendra by his wife, in-laws, friend Kumar Varma despite Amarendra losing his throne, Commander in-chief position, finally exiled, too, makes Amarendra striving to becoming a better person.

    Finally, Amarendra Bahubali has shades of Lord Ram’s persona, but also resembles Chandragupta Maurya (sadly his advisor Kattappa is no Chanakya) and also resembles Netaji Subash Chandra Bose.


  3. “He ends as a man who is a King Among Men, no matter where he goes.”
    Agreed. 100%.

    I don’t know if the cultural nuance of what it means to be a born king is apparent to non-Indian audiences but it is very deeply engrained in all the cultures within India. Like there’s a difference between being a zamindar, a feudal lord, who received his land and title in a bestowment and a king/prince who was born into it. Even when people don’t have titles but they have historically held a prominent social position (plus some financial and political resources) they’re EXPECTED to work for the people and be humble and caring for the members of the public and have that sense of familial dedication for them. Deviating from that makes you an ungrateful so-and-so. Even today, at both village and city levels, this phenomenon exists. I see that in my own environment too. We’re not kings or royals or even too rich but thanks to the social and political positions held by the previous generations, my family is EXPECTED to be humble and helpful and caring and to be helpful to the community. Somebody from the village comes up for help and we HAVE TO help.

    That instantly makes us identify with and understand Amarendra. He is an all-around good guy but those things are EXPECTED of him anyway. And he does not disappoint.

    Right from birth, Amarendra shows he’s different. Sivagami dubs him Bahubali. The bahubal comes naturally to him. We see in the Sivagami book that his parents and grandparents and uncle aren’t really mass devotion-inspiring characters. They’re just regular royals. But Amarendra is different. Orphaned at birth, his story starts with a severance of ties from the previous generations. In fact, he was raised by Sivagami who isn’t a blood relation so he is allowed to be more true to himself than Bhallala.

    Maybe it is that he always knew he was gonna be king that made him all the more humble and dutiful. When he gets the scorpion heading for Sivagami’s butt, that’s him assuming responsibility in the situation. When he accepts the sword, he bows his head in reverence for what the sword stands for- responsibility. It isn’t a shiny new toy for Amarendra like it is for Bhallala who is free of that sense of duty.

    When he “orders” Kattappa to be friends with him, that’s him using the power he knows he has, as future king, to ease the mind of a slave who he saw as someone who took his own place in the world as seriously and dutifully as Amarendra did his. Amarendra and Kattappa bond because of their sense of duty and responsibility. Had Kattappa been a selfish prick, Amarendra wouldn’t have stayed friends with him. Sivagami and Amarendra bond because of this too. She doesn’t NEED to tell him these things. That’s why she likes him more.

    I feel Amarendra is the father figure in this story when we see it as a whole. He’s the child who has been told right from the start that since his dad isn’t around anymore, he’s gotta be the man of the house. He enjoys being a kid around his mother and he enjoys being a loved like child by the praja but he never forgets that he’s the man of the house.

    Maybe it is this knowledge that makes him so secure. Even when he’s being a child and cute-ing his way through problems, he never has that anxiety that comes with being insecure about his position in the scheme of things. (This is not to say that he doesn’t have anxieties at a personal level) At the sacrifice, he skews the tradition not to defy anyone but because he is so secure and sure about his interpretation of the logic behind the sacrifice that he knows his own blood will matter more to the deity. And nobody questions him because his sense of security makes them feel secure too. In the battle, when the Kalakeya emblem goes up and the army is demoralized, he goes back to rally the troops instead of just going for the prize- i.e. Kalakeya’s head! His confidence inspires them all like a dad telling the family “it’s gonna be ok” does.

    In Manohari and in Kuntala, he displays his security with his sexuality. He knows he’s sexy and cute and charming. He knows he’s going to get the girl(s) so he doesn’t even try to be alpha around them. He doesn’t need to. He IS alpha and he knows it. And so does everyone else. He is so alpha and so secure that he doesn’t feel bad about showing his anger to the lady he’s trying to woo when she forcefully burns his tunic without his will. Devasena has a “Crap! Dafaq I just do?!” mini moment but Amarendra is so alpha he takes back the control of the situation without anyone even realizing it.

    I loved the characterization for Amarendra. I loved it that Rajamouli and Prabhas and Senthil worked so hard to make him look and feel so larger than life but yet so real and easy to identify with.
    (sidenote: The slightly taller and naturally more extroverted Rana had to gain 15 extra kgs of muscle (compared to Prabhas in Amarendra mode) to even be noticed next to Prabhas in his Amarendra Bahubali avatar. That’s how larger than life the role got!)

    I loved that in the court scene, when he’s first torn between Sivagami and Devasena and his vow, we see how his mind works. He isn’t making that decision to tell his mom and reagent she’s wrong in full court lightly or on a whim. He’s referencing a specific logic that his interpretation of justice developed out of. Plus he’s actually very well versed in Mahishmati laws so he knows the consequences. I don’t go to the justice v. dharma debate because that’s a huge gray area of philosophizing that goes beyond the scope of what’s presented in the film itself and I do feel that this particular debate sort of dilutes the possibility of examining characters as themselves since they then become symbols within cultural philosophy.

    He doesn’t contest his firing at the baby shower because he knows the laws and the king’s jurisdiction and the limits of QMs jurisdiction. In the last court scene, he executes Sethupathy according to the law and he knows as a Prince of Mahishmati, he has legal basis to take that action. BUT, Sivagami, Amarendra and Bhallala, NONE of them know what the punishment for contempt of the King’s court-slash-unsanctioned (extrajudicial?) execution of a sitting Head of the Armed Forces by a member of the RF is. That is why Sivagami asks the mahamantri for the exact law on that. And he too consults a bunch of people who go through the books and come up with a specific provision for the case. Amarendra looks taken aback by the decision but he accepts it because he knows the law.

    I love that even though a lot of the conflict in this story comes from personal vows given, there are so many specific rules and laws that they’re all bound by. Even super-villain Bhallala can’t kill his cousin just because.

    I’ve theorized earlier that Amarendra might have had anxiety issues as a child which naturally make him seek out love and human connections more than power and position. I still think that remains true even when Amarendra is the man of the house. I mean, do we even know grown men who are sweet and caring and confident and alpha that didn’t have to deal with that hint of anxiety on a personal level at some point in their pasts?

    Even on his deathbed, he tells his most trusted bro “Take care of mom”. Now, “mom” here stands not just for Sivagami, it also stands for Mahishmati. That’s the man of the house leaving orders for his best bro on how to keep things running when he’s gone. Amarendra knows that if someone takes care of Sivagami (and Maishmathi), then everything would be just alright. He doesn’t need to worry about Devasena and the unborn child because he trusts Sivagami to do it. He trusts her to do the right thing. He knows she’s not a monster.

    Again, I do believe he laid the trap for the Kalakeya anticipating an attack but in absence of actual casting records for BB2 I can’t be sure if those were real Kalakeyas.

    How funny would it be if this character was designed (even accidentally) to appeal to the audience’s daddy issues (both positive and negative)? He definitely gives Bhallala daddy issues! I would love to explore how the minds of the men behind the characters probably worked and how it impacted the creation of Amarendra but I’m afraid it would be a little creepy and perverted!

    I want to see how his relationships with other characters in the story work:

    With Sivagami: Sivagami, from the start, perhaps saw him as the next king. So she is both his mother and his child (he’s the father figure she longs) She raises him to be that father figure. They do have that kind of relationship (we see that in Saahore) where they can take turns being the parent figure when the other needs it. In the first court scene, Amarendra asserts his parent side for her telling her she made a mistake. They’re in a way, equals which is why they don’t apologize to each other. Amarendra, being the child and the perfect humble child, should have. He doesn’t. She too is angry at him and she chooses silence, like someone would with an equal, not a child. With her order to execute him, her heart doesn’t explode with the idea of killing her child. She’s still thinking of him as an equal. In fact, his acceptance of her silence is almost like a husband.

    With Kattappa: Amarendra and Kattappa are bros. Amarendra sees Kattappa as being close in morality and personality as himself and Sivagami. They have private jokes and Amarendra tells him about his “conquests” etc. Kattappa takes the place in Amarendra’s life that Bhallala should have had.

    With Devasena: Since Devasena is a child, Amarendra has zero problems fitting in with her. He’s used to be the man of the house. He knows how to handle children throwing tantrums. He handles her tantrums easily and he looks amused doing so. The mentoring moment in the hallway in the Kuntala battle can be read in this context too. She is drawn to him because he looks like he might be the father figure she so craves. And he proves that he is exactly that. He’s gonna take care of everything. He’ll be the man she needs. When he doesn’t (accepts the firing unquestioningly etc), she can’t contain herself. She NEEDS him to be the father figure to the kingdom and being just another guy out there won’t work for her. And of course you can call her hatred of Sivagami as her daddy issues.

    With Bhallala: I don’t know why Amarendra and Bhallala never bond as brothers/cousins. They get along well enough but there’s something missing in that relationship. Maybe because Amarendra is too fulfilled by this relationship with Kattappa and Sivagami that he doesn’t even need to make an effort there. Later on, Kumar Varma joins his bro club and so of course jealous Bhallala entraps and kills him first.

    With Bajjala: Gawd, even Bajjala has daddy issues with Amarendra!

    At the village, he’s being the man of the house again. He’s out there fixing the roof and cleaning the rain gutters and tightening the leaky faucets!!! HAH! We don’t even realize it but that’s a DILF montage thing happening in Dandalayya!! LOL

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    • Your discussion of Amarendra and Sivagami reminds me of an article I read on Deewar. It argued that post the disappearance of the father, Nirupa Roy turned Amitabh into her “husband” instead of her son. And, just like you say here, it ends up effecting how they interact for the rest of the film, his desperate dependency on her that is a combination of mother/wife, and her inability to see him as a child she should love and forgive instead of a man that she can hold to higher standards.

      In a broader sense, I think that is what can easily happen in a single parent situation. One child is turned into the “partner” of the parent while the other is allowed to remain a child. And then if the remaining parent dies, the child-parent becomes an “adult”. It’s one of those things I appreciate about Indian film, the way they explore these dynamics that American film can kind of ignore, since they spend so much less time creating and recreating the family.

      Anyway, the “parent” child and “child” child dynamic is bad all around, because the “child” child can sense the greater closeness between the parent and the “parent” child and resents it, and the “parent” child resents the greater indulgence they see being spent on the other child. Which is where your other point makes complete sense! Amarendra sees himself as an orphan more than anything else and is so grateful for love, and so mature in how he handles giving and receiving love, that he has no jealousy or resentment of how Bhalla is allowed to be a child while he has to always be the adult. But Bhalla, without that extra maturity, does react like the “child” child normally would in this situation.

      Oh, and your comments about a heritage of responsibility are really interesting! They remind me of what I have read/seen in other kind of ancient feudal cultures. Really, everywhere but the Americas! I was trying to think of a comparison here and there really isn’t one. Instead, it seems like responsibility is more defuse. If a member of my church, or my friend group, asks for help, then I have to to give it. And, in a larger sense, it is expected that you donate a proportion of your income to the Red Cross, or one of those other groups that provides that kind of assistance on demand.

      Oh, and of course, your description of the responsibilities of a leading family is exactly what I am used to with the movie stars! The way the top stars in Hindi film and (I assume) in other film industries routinely adopt villages, give money for medical treatment, basically if you manage to get word to them that you need help, they will help you, is something I’ve never heard of from any other celebrity anywhere.

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      • The celebrity village adoption is actually much further from what happens on the ground with leading families in the ground level. Think more like what Kuntala is. The families and the public have familial terms and the “help” isn’t thought of as charity or even social contribution. It’s given and received more in the sense that an elder brother would provide for younger siblings. Our film industry is thought of as rather snobbish for not being rooted enough 😁

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        • Coming from an outsider’s perspective, the very fact that there is an assumption that film stars should take care of “their people” and are failing when they don’t is just “foreign” to me. Beyond the village adoptions, there are little stories dribbled into interviews (NOT promoted, kind of sneaking in between the lines) about random donations for medical care or things like that just because someone asked. Salman Khan, a couple of people have mentioned in passing on other stories about him, always travels with a massive roll of cash, so when people ask him for help, he can give them the money right away. Like, people at stoplights coming up to his car.

          Again, of course, it could be more. But the idea of seeing Tom Cruise passing in a car, and going up to him and asking for help, I don’t know, paying down college loans would never occur to me!

          On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 11:22 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


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          • Not just film stars, anyone who’s made it big. The ones who keep the connection with the people go on to have super successful political careers too. I guess Jayalalitha is a great example of my point. Bollywood is disconnected from the public and it shows in the films too at times. South stars are a lot more in tune. You’d never expect Rajnikanth turning down a request for help but you so see Amitabh Bachchan doing it. He’d be super polite but he would turn you down if he doesn’t want to help. You’d really never go up to SRK or Hritik for help either. Amir does activism a lot but somehow that usually happens when his one movie for the year is close to release. Salman only started Being Human after he mowed down people sleeping on the sidewalk. He may carry cash but I don’t think he cares about the people.

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          • no way to know for sure, but based on various tiny things in interviews and stories, not stuff that feels planted because it isn’t the main point of the story and is easy to miss, it does seem like the Khans give money direct to people in a way that other wealthy people just don’t. But you are right, I am sure it could be more and more routine.

            Anyway, you see my point that even the expectation is weird to me? In America, we just ask that our movie stars give us gossip and look pretty, no need to do anything more.


          • I do. That would be the individualism in action though isn’t it? The American dream doesn’t say you gotta lift your entire community up too. Not to say that’s bad, it’s just different. Like any British actor worth his salt as GOT TO have done some Shakespeare. 😁

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          • Exactly! You don’t have a responsibility just because you’ve made it to take care of the lowly people.

            Although, to be fair to America, as one of the more lowly people, there is a strong sense of us lowly folks taking care of each other. Massive amounts donated to charity, neighborhood work days, church activities, etc. etc. It’s not the best system, because it takes like a thousand lowly people working flat out to do what a highly person could do with a wave of their hand, and doesn’t. But we do have some kind a system in place. It just doesn’t involve movie stars, they get high enough and they get exempt from all that.

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      • On another blog a reviewer commented that Sivagami and Amarendra had Freudian relationship. Single parent, elder child-partner issue was there in ‘Chatrapathi’ movie too. May be thats why the younger child resented them so much in Chatrapathi movie. Rajamouli may have seen a real life example somewhere.

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        • Oh I totally missed the Chatrapati connection!! Come to think of it, Rajamaoli also does a lot of reincarnation type of themes too!


      • Spiderman says ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I think when a person has lot of wealth or power, he is expected by everybody to help others. Otherwise there is a possibility that he is resented by everybody or a danger that he becomes a tyrant.

        In America too I see examples of Bill Gates and Mark Jukerburg sharing their riches.

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        • Yes, and yet somehow it’s always the “new” millionaires who do it, the people born into wealth just assume it is their right.

          On Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 12:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


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          • I would not use the American or European elite as an example of the raja and praja relationship!


        • Both of them are notorious for exploiting their consumers and essentially selling them to businesses. What a very politically loaded example to use. Zuckerberg had been trying to quell net neutrality in India and Bill Gates is influencing our economy through the RBI. Both are super interested in exploiting the Indian market and neither has espoused any social causes in India. Bill Gates’ vaccination endeavours in India have been using the poor as lab rats for untested vaccines!!!

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    • Love this. I think the “he was born grown-up” dynamic captures the gist of Amarendra’s situation. And the fact that he’s so busy trying his best to protect everybody even when he’s losing everything step by step – his kingdom, his post as commander of the army, his place in the royal palace, his mother’s love (as he sees it) and finally his life (and even then, he’s busy trying to save Kattappa) – just makes us wish fervently there’s someone, anyone, in Mahishmati who could take care of him and protect him. And the void there just makes it that much more heart breaking.

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    • As always, almost everything you say makes sense so I won’t go into too much detail with my reply 😛

      You put forth an even-more-interesting point than other-interesting-points though. This – Later on, Kumar Varma joins his bro club and so of course jealous Bhallala entraps and kills him first. Could it be that the entire conflict began not just because (or only because!) Bijjala poisioned his mind, but because Bhalla felt IGNORED by Baahu? As a friend, a bro, a confidante? Which is why he systematically started to break down relations with everyone Baahu was close to, except Kattappa–the main bro–who got the most despicable deal of it all. Was it because Bhalla was JEALOUS of everyone Baahu was close to and ultimately got him killed because he was scorned by Baahu, in a way? That’s pretty mindblowing! Of course, this is just theorising :p :p


      • @MusingsMosaic I believe you are right, that plays a big part in Bhalla’s motivations. Amarendra doesn’t ignore him, in fact all the interactions between the brothers are initiated by him – be it the leg pulling that he will make Bhalla his army commander, or the appreciative hand on the shoulder when they catch the Kalakeya snitch, or even the smile when Bhalla kills the Kalakeya chief from behind his back, not to mention the search for acknowledgement from Bhalla when Sivagami declares him as the next king (Amarendra looks at Bhalla, and Bhalla magnanimously gestures to him to go ahead).

        For Bhalla, it seemed like his entire existence was solely to quench his searing obsession with Amarendra. He wanted the throne because Amarendra seemed destined for it, he wanted Devasena because Amarendra fell in love with her. In fact, maybe his extra hatred for Devasena was not because she chose Amarendra over him, but because Amarendra chose her. Remember when Bijjala asks Sivagami to kill Mahendra Baahubali, Bhalla says “I will decide what to do with the baby”. If Sivagami had not escaped with Mahendra, I’m pretty sure Bhalla wouldn’t have killed him. He would have raised him, and loved and hated Mahendra in equal measure, like he did with Amarendra.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ah no, I did not mean to say that Amarendra did in fact ignored him. To me, Amarendra is perfect and can never do wrong. What I meant was Bhalla may have THOUGHT he was being ignored by him, hence all the hate 🙂 🙂

          As for the baby, I am very doubtful as to whether he would have kept him alive. Remember when Sivagami says “Bahubali ki mrityu taye hai!”, Bhalla gets up immediately thinking he has to do the deed? But that is not destined. Later we see how Bhalla regrets not being able to kill Baahu with his bare hands. I really think Bhalla would have strangled baby Mahendra, just because he did not get to do the same with his father.


  4. Another lovely post! Thanks Margaret! It’s sad that it’s one of the last posts though, I need to get out of the BB2 hangover.

    This reminds me of one of Rajamouli’s interviews actually, where he talks about how the character of Amarendra Baahubali is so perfect that it’s inherently boring. Like Superman in a way, who has no flaws, and that makes for pretty boring character arcs. I think this was one of the problems with Amarendra’s portrayal in BB1 – he was just the perfect son doing perfect things, almost predictable, no further room for growth. Rajamouli talked about story telling, and how it was important to surround Amarendra with extraordinary, strong, polarizing characters like Sivagami, Devasena and Kattappa, and when we see him through their eyes and through his relationship with them, he is suddenly so much more. I believe BB2 nailed this aspect, which is why the characterization of Amarendra is one for the ages – so towering, so overwhelming that you’re almost in awe – but made so because of the huge influence he wields over all other characters in the movie.

    We see ample coverage of his bravery and strength in BB1, but that is very different from the awe with which Devasena sees him during the Pindari battle. She is impressed, we are impressed even more. We know Amarendra can take care of things in BB1, but the way Kattappa smiles in relief when he sees Amarendra stride into the royal court during Devasena’s trial suddenly drives home that confidence. From BB1, we know Amarendra loves his mother, but the way he smiles at Sivagami during Bhalla’s coronation to try and get her to smile back at him just breaks the heart – because in that moment, we see him through Sivagami’s eyes as the vulnerable kid looking for parental approval.

    We connect with Amarendra Baahubali through these flawed characters who we can actually connect with. It’s also the reason why the character had to be short lived, like I mentioned in an earlier post, otherwise this impact just wouldn’t be there. Draw him out for too long, and there’s nothing else to see besides his perfection.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I love that idea, seeing him through the people around him. Tying it back to Superman, I think that is why the original Superman story focused so much on his human connections. He may be an all powerful alien, but he also has a crush on the girl at work, and worries about his parents, and just generally cares and feels for the people of the world.

      On Sat, Jul 15, 2017 at 10:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

    • Oooh yes! That look he gives Sivagami during the coronation! My heart went out to him at the time. From beaming at first, to a hopeful smile, to the sinking realisation that things between them are just not the same anymore. The play of emotions on his face at the time is so, so good. Love the point you made about him being surrounded by polarising characters who show us even more clearly just how amazing he is.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, I so agree with you. The best part about Amarendra is the fact that he keeps trying to better himself and how he could easily have chosen to sit back and bask in his inherent awesomeness but chose not to. I don’t remember ever having loved a movie character so damn much. Every single time I watch this film, I am close to tears (or openly crying) when his death is approaching. I love how they shot the before-death sequence of him fighting off the (fake?) Kalakeyas in slow-motion with that poignant music in the background. Gives me goosebumps even as I write this.

    It’s like they say, the truly good, pure ones are never long for this world. It is so sad. I tried (admittedly, not very hard) to find flaws in her character but I cannot. Some may say his perfection seems boring and I have friends who find Bhalla’s character far more fascinating as he is layered/complex and all that. I agree completely, Bhalla IS very, very layered. But Baahu does not, will not, never can bore me. I understand how some people say his character is way too perfect or larger-than-life to relate with. But speaking for myself, I disagree. To me, he is the perfect, ideal man. Maryaada Purushottam, like they say. Every time I watch this movie, it is not just the grandeur and the scale which amazes me, but it is the character of Baahu himself that provides me a three-hour escape from reality. I love the point you made about him having trained his soldiers perfectly for the coronation. That coronation was a thing of beauty!!!

    I may have more points to add once I am able to think more clearly. But with Amarendra, I am way too much in love to analyse a lot. Also I don’t think there can be many points of conflict in his case. Not nearly as many as we saw in the Devasena post. And to me, that’s okay.

    To wrap this up, when I watched the first movie, I loved it for the intriguing storyline, and that was that. I wasn’t a big fan of Prabhas, personally. But once I watched the second, I knew I would never be the same again. Amarendra has been strumming at my heartstrings CONSISTENTLY since April 28, 2017. And I don’t think the music will end anytime soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • See, what I realized was that I love him less for his perfections than for his spirit. Like, if he had been deformed, weak, unattractive, but still tried so hard to constantly be better, I would have loved him for that. And I love him more because he is perfect and STILL tries. It’s not the perfection, it’s the unwillingness to be satisfied with it that is why I love him. I wouldn’t be interested in him at all if he was just perfect. Which is all he was in the first movie, perfect and happy that way.

      Bringing in a completely unrelated topic, you know the Shahrukh Dwarf movie that is coming up? the one comment I saw about it from the director or Shahrukh, I can’t remember which, was that they wanted to see if people still loved Shahrukh if he wasn’t perfect. And they wanted an extreme way of doing that, so they went with dwarf, that’s the meaning behind it. Just as a thought experiment, I would love to see if we still loved Amarendra if he had been all Darth Vadered but survived. If he was deformed, burned, ugly, even his mind partially gone. But still had that big heart and spirit. I bet we would! Because the most important parts would have survived.

      On Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 9:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Oh, good question. Yes, a lot of what people love about him has to do with his prowess on the battlefield, his looks, his persona, all of that. But what makes Amarendra Bahubali a legend is his heart. That big, warm, oh-so-loving, clean and pure heart. If you think about it, Bhalla has everything that Baahu does in terms of superficial attributes; looks, war skills, intelligence. Even if he was not a negative character, he would not be loved to the point of Godlike adulation the way Baahu was.

        Yeah maybe, just maybe, people may not have hero-worshipped him if he was crippled/ugly. In the ‘Rise of Sivagami’ book we see how his father Mahadeva/Vikramdeva–himself a good soul–is not taken very seriously as he is not a skilled warrior or larger-than-life the way Baahu is. But in BB1, as Kattappa’s flashback begins, he says “Maharaj ki akaal mrutyu hui aur peeche reh gayi uski santaan jaisi praja’ which means the king died an untimely death, leaving behind the kingdom that was like a child to him and then ‘Mahishmati shok ke saagar mein doob gaya’ which means Mahishmati had sunk in gloom. So one can assume that Mahadeva was also loved and respected by the masses despite him not being a great warrior. So yes, I think Baahu would have been loved just as much. Maybe even a little more than his father Mahadeva, as he had very creative ways of going about things and finding solutions.

        Liked by 2 people

        • And then in Shivudu, we we see the same kind of good heart without the trained intelligence and battle skills. And we still love him, and the people still love him, because he reminds them of his father. In the looks, and in the heart of him.

          On Sun, Jul 16, 2017 at 9:24 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes! We love Sivudu because of reasons that are different, yet not entirely so. Both father and son are very, very different characters. But both have hearts of gold. Some may say one doesn’t know much about Sivudu to be able to deduce that with as much conviction as one can with Amarendra. But Sivu shows the same characteristics:

            1. He loves his mother to bits, is happy to undergo hardship for her. Like Amarendra took the scorpion sting, Sivu is happy to do the linga-abhishek instead of his mother in BB1, to spare her the exhaustion of drenching the Shivalinga 116 times.

            2. Amarendra’s love for the people is well established. In Sivu’s case, when Kattappa’s flashback is over, I remember him saying something to the effect of “Mahishmati ki praja ko abhishaap se mukt karne ke liye Rajmaata Sivagami ka pautra, Amarendra Bahubali ka vanshaj ab laut aaya hai” which translates to Queen Mother Sivagami’s grandson and Amarendra Bahubali’s descendant has returned to rid people of all their suffering. So it is not just to avenge his father’s death or the inhuman treatment to his birth mother. He also wants to do good by the people. I also remember a scene in the final battle when the common villagers are pelting stones at Mahishmati’s soldiers on horseback and are facing a fierce backlash when Sivu uproots a tree and throws it at the advancing army. protecting the commoners, like his father always did,

            3. The Amarendra-Devasena love story and the Sivu-Avantika look story were as different as chalk and cheese. And yes, for a while it does seem like Sivu has completely taken over Avantika’s mission. But we can draw parallels here too. In BB2, Devasena is all fiery and determined, a skilled warrior. But she acknowledges Amarendra’s superiority and lets him save the day as he is simply better equipped to do so. Not getting into gender roles here. In Avantika’s case too, she is a skilled warrior herself and is determined in her mission like nobody’s business. However, when she sees that Sivu is better at handling things (sledding out of the avalanche, fighting off and escaping multiple soldiers) she is willing to let him take the lead.

            All in all, Sivu/Mahendra definitely has big shoes to fill. But maybe it would not be all THAT difficult as he has his father’s spirit.

            Liked by 3 people

          • Again, good points @MusingsMosaic! I was watching parts of BB1 again today, and I realized Shivudu and Amarendra are more alike than we give Shivudu credit for. They are both inherently happy people too. they tend to be happy regardless of circumstances, even if Amarendra has been trained as a prince to mask his emotions more, and Shivudu is more expressive and carefree.

            And Shivudu’s love for people is also apparent in the way he goes out of the way to stop Bhalla’s statue from falling and crushing everyone underneath, or the way he helps the old man up with an encouraging smile.

            And they are both assertive when it comes to what they really want. It’s obvious with Shivudu, less so with Amarendra, but look at the way Amarendra handles Devasena’s trial.

            IF (1) Amarendra had not made any promises to Devasena, and (2) Devasena was willing to follow the orders of the queen mother – would Amarendra have sacrificed his love for the sake of his brother and his mother’s promise? I am strongly leaning towards NO right now.

            The main difference between the two (apart from education and training etc) is Mahendra’s raw aggression vs Amarendra’s studied, optimized approach, and Mahendra’s volatility vs Amarendra’s extraordinary composure.

            Liked by 3 people

      • Kamal Hasan’s Appu Raja and Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister are what SRK is going to get judged by. Even though he’s a real life dwarf, Dinklage had redefined the rules of acting for dwarf roles. I highly doubt anyone can come close to the “I’m vulnerable but also strong” that’s Kamal Hasan’s forte!

        If SRK is still worrying about acceptance (why the insecurity bro?!) he’s doing it wrong. I think he’s insecure because he knows he’s been doing it wrong. He got stuck in that bollywood leading man in a mid life crisis mode and now he can’t shake it off. His kids are already being talked about as next stars and SRK is out there romancing women half his age. That said, kudos to him for experimenting. Now or never right?!


        • I am on record as a total SRKian, so I of course always see his actions in the best possible light. But, picking up on the discussion on the Jagga Jasoos post, I think it’s inarguable even by people who don’t like him that he is entering a phase of “why not experiment? I’ve only got a few more years of superstardom, know’s the time”. Fan, Raees, the Dwarf movie, all really weird choices. Even Dear Zindagi! Odd!

          On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 1:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          • SRK should do a dozen super low budget experimental films. Remember Amitabh Bachchan’s Cheeni Kam, Nishabd, Black etc. phase? That’s what SRK should do. Make low budget films under his own banner and stop worrying about acceptance. In five years’ time he needs to launch his own kids in the industry. And he aint no Anil Kapoor! 😁


          • He’s getting there! Dear Zindagi was pretty darn low budget. Fan was too, except for the CGI. No other big actors, all location shooting, no songs. Give him two-three more hits to raise the money, and I could see him moving into the Dear Zindagi kind of realm for the rest of his career.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I kept thinking about Dear Zindagi when you did the SRK pic post the other day. Why does his face look so frozen these days. Especially the eyebrows. He looks like that picture on every interview too.


          • Someone pointed out when were discussing his look in the Raees trailers that he most likely uses temporary fillers during filming. To sort of fill out his cheeks and generally make him look younger. But so far I haven’t really seen that kind of effect consistently in candid photos, which makes me think it is something temporary, not as permanent as botox or real plastic surgery. But if he is in the middle of filming something when he gives an interview he would still have that look.

            That’s another reason I want him to play more his own age, his face is his instrument, and I want it to have as little alteration as possible so he can use it to full effect..

            On Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 8:45 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



          • Also, no one should ever try to immitate Nishabd or even acknowledge it’s existence. Scrub that film from the face of the earth! I almost want to say, better amitabh had stayed in the commercial realm entirely if it had saved us Nishabd. If nothing else, Jiah Khan would probably be alive today if it weren’t for that movie.


    • Hah!! Three days after I watched the film (in mid June!) I was travelling and telling a friend why I liked the film. She said yeah Prabhas is phenomenal. I was like who’s that. She facepalmed so hard!

      Today I’m giving an expert level analysis of how we need to watch hid films in the original language too to “get” specific facial expressions! 😁

      I totally see him being a long term crush. Unless he pulls a Salman. Yuck!!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. @Mira Ranjana Aaah the statue! How could I forget that? Indeed. He had entered Mahishmati by stealth and risked blowing his cover/being recognised as an intruder but still helped the people, and not just in a subtle way. He knew his action of showing superhuman strength by singlehandedly preventing it from falling was sure to draw attention. That did not matter to him one bit.

    Yes, Amarendra is assertive. Sivu is borderline aggressive. But then Amarendra has been trained as a prince, so one can make allowances for Sivu there. Were you the one who called him a fun loving goofball, BTW? Perfect description 😀

    Oh as for your question regarding Devasena, I will disagree. Not so much with the promises part. I feel had he not made any promises to her, he would have still wanted her for himself. What tipped the scales was Devasena’s love for him and her choice of being his wife. Had Devasena been willing to follow Sivagami’s orders, I think there is no way Baahu would have tried to stake his claim there. Many people have discussed how he was pro-choice and subservient to Devasena, in many ways. I think he would have gracefully let her go.

    Completely agree to the last para. In a way, Sivu is a breath of fresh air. Not bound by the rules, having grown up not having learnt them, he still can tell right from wrong. Once he learns of the rules and laws, he may get even better!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. @Asmita Hahahaha!! Oh I remember when BB1 released, everyone was talking about it and I was not even interested. I just happened to watch the movie on a flight nearly a year later, socho!! And that was because the rest of the in-flight entertainment consisted of TV shows with a bad print/those I already had watched. I thought there is so much hype about this movie, I might as well just get it over with. Guess what? I loved it so much, I watched it TWICE over in the same flight (eight-hour flight, just FYI). Whenever I told people I hadn’t watched the movie, they gave me this dumbfounded look and I was all blase and like “meh, big deal”. Turns out I was too cool for my own good and finally realised what I was missing 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • oh my, really?? That song bored me too (I always skipped it when I re-watched the movie), but the storyline up until then was quite enough to intrigue me, so I continued watching. Didn’t regret it :p

        I suppose you must have, when you did watch it finally!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I couldn’t sit through the Avanthika thing till I read Margaret’s interpretation of it. Then it got really bearable. It helped to know the mask was supposed to be brought by a monkey 🙈

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yay, I am glad I helped! I kind of had my Avantika interpretation down after I watched the first film, but I wasn’t sure if it was right or not. And then watching the second film, with the super strong Devasena character and the way their romance sort of echoed and expanded on the romance in the first, plus seeing that Avantika is back to being a warrior in the final fight and then Queen in the last section showing that it was always about integrating those two parts, made me feel more confident in it.

            On Tue, Jul 18, 2017 at 10:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


            Liked by 2 people

          • Yup. Margaret’s interpretation really helped! I have several friends who say they dislike BB1 only because of the ‘rape of Avantika’ scene. It was enough for them to completely discount the merits of the film. Which is understandable to an extent, but kinda sad.

            Liked by 1 person

          • It’s actually very heartening that Indian audiences were totally put off by the misogynistic bits and it were the stong female characters that sold the movies better. It means we’re growing as a society.

            Liked by 1 person

          • And now we are back to Margaret’s sad discovery that if you do an image search of “Pacha Bottasi”, you come up with ten million photos labeled “Tamannah’s Bare Back HOTTT” and no photos of them sweetly embracing. I think many people may have watched that scene super differently than I did.


          • oh God, yes. I was discussing Bahubali with a colleague. He is much older than I am, maybe in his fifties. He said “my children keep telling me the first movie is sexist in its treatment of Tamannah but I saw no such thing. Her role seemed perfect to me”. Proves your point about people (especially men) viewing it super differently than we do.


          • That’s strange. I do remember a lot of my male GoT fandom pals complaining about how “typically south indian film” it felt. They’d gone in expecting a world class feature and they got southie softcore instead. 😁 one of the big reasons why I never made the effort to watch it before this year.


          • Hahaha, okay. So I haven’t watched much of GoT, but I do know how, ahem, intense the scenes can get. BB1 would be small fry in comparison for your guy friends then 😛


          • Apart form the prostitutes, none of the leading ladies featured in the sexually violent scenes turned to mush like Avanthika did. Sex turning women weak is a uniquely Indian creation.


          • Same. Even now, when I rewatch BB1, I end up skipping everything after Dhivara till Nippule swasaga (basically, everything Avantika). It’s probably the worst 30 minutes in both the movies put together, everything else is top notch and well thought out.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. Margaret I think you should do another post about bahubali. This time with a poll– who other than Prabhas could have played this role to perfection and why. 😁


  9. Pingback: Bahubali Posts Index | dontcallitbollywood

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