Bahubali: The Conclusion, is a blockbuster; it has made history by making Rs.100 crores on the first day! A film made on such extravagant scale that was unheard or created in the past—both in terms of fantasy and in terms of budget. A film that has made sure that the actors are identified by their characters. A film that will make you shed a tear. A film that will give you goosebumps for the sheer heroism of characters and their representation. Bahubali has it all! It is a film that has etched its place in the Indian cinema history.
Yet, I was disappointed when I watched Bahubali: The Conclusion.
I was not let down by the technical aspects of the film nor the way in which Amarendra Bahubali is killed by his trusted uncle! I went to the film for an answer to the question: Why did Kattappa kill Amarendra Bahubali? And, I did not get the answer.
After watching the film, I asked the WHY did Kattappa kill Amarendra Bahubali? He killed Amarendra Bahubali because he was ordered to do so by Sivagami. Okay. So, WHY did Sivagami ordered the killing of Amarendra Bahubali? Hmmm….Sivagami ordered the killing because she believed Amarendra Bahubali had plotted to kill Bhallaladeva. Really? Did Sivagami believe it to be so … the circumstances in the film are not clearly pointing to it. Nevertheless, assuming that she did believe, so WHY did she believe that Amarendra Bahubali plotted to kill Bhallaladeva? I thought for a while …. However, no answer was forthcoming.
As a film progresses, a character reveals itself to the audience; you get to see the strength and emotions of the character, and rationalize a character’s action in the film. And, it is important that the character reveals itself in a consistent manner throughout a film. When inconsistency and contradictions creeps into a character, you start to hear and feel a jarring note; somewhere something is not right, kind of feeling. This is exactly what I felt with Sivagami’s portrayal in Bahubali: The Conclusion. And, this is precise reason for not being able to get an answer to the WHYs.
In Bahubali: The Beginning, Sivagami’s comes across as a person who is in control of every aspect of not only her life, but also people who matter, and kingdom in general. There is not one instance in the film to illustrate that she is not in control of the situation. Sivagami is a person who runs the show. She is a raja mata who is non-partisan—so much so, that she adopts her brother-in-law’s son as her own, nourishes him, and positions him as a contender to the throne. She is a woman who has her own mind and brooks no opposition if she it does not align with what she believes to be right; it does not matter even if the opposition comes from her own husband. In fact, Sivagami chides her husband on more than one occasion when she believes that he is not right in asking what he asked for. She is a woman who can navigate the court politics and cannot be pushed into taking a decision just because it suits someone else. She is a fearless lady who can give a fitting reply to the insulting remarks made by an enemy like Kalakeya. I mean, in totality, if one just looks at Bahubali: The Beginning, Sivagami clearly comes across as a strong-minded leader who is the pivot of Mahishmati kingdom. In fact, even in her death, her strength of character comes across.
However, what reveals in Bahubali: The Conclusion is an entirely different character.
You do not see one Sivagami, but multitude of them that do not align with one another. Throughout the film, I could not come across even a single instance where Sivagami’s act of ordering Bahubali’s killing has been rationalized. All of sudden, in Bahubali: The Conclusion you do not see the strength of character of Sivagami. She is represented as a person who does not understand the court intrude, unlike Bahubali: The Beginning where she is on top of it. She becomes a partisan person and an emotional dictator who does not hesitate to order an army to march on to a kingdom because a marriage proposal was rejected; very much unlike part one, where she displays a cool demeanor even when provoked. She becomes a naïve person who can be manipulated, unlike Bahubali: The Beginning, where she is not only in control of the events, but also is intelligent enough not to get swayed by people.
In short, representation of Sivagami in Bahubali: The Conclusion is a flawed.
In trying to create a rationale for Sivagami’s act of ordering Amarendra Bahubali’s killing, the portrayal of Sivagami’s character has fluttered. It does not matter if you represent a flawed character, but representing a character in a flawed manner is disappointing.