Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)
February 11, 2019 1:36 PM - Subscribe

When Shivudu, the son of Baahubali, learns about his heritage, he begins to look for answers. His story is juxtaposed with past events that unfolded in the Mahishmati Kingdom.
posted by DirtyOldTown (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about HBO puts the kibosh on that dumbass What-if-the-Confederacy-won? show from the GoT people and they just throw money at S.S. Rajamouli in a US/Indian co-production?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:58 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yah, S.S. Rajamouli, among others in South Indian cinema is making some really great stuff that uses CGI in more exciting ways to show things we haven't seen over and over again. Check out Eega for example:

The narrative of Eega is in the form of a bedtime story told by a father to his daughter. Its protagonist is Nani, who is in love with his neighbour Bindu. Nani is murdered by a wealthy businessman named Sudeep, who is attracted to Bindu and considers Nani a rival. Nani reincarnates as a housefly and tries to protect Bindu while avenging his death.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:22 AM on February 12, 2019

I had noticed that one and added it to my Netflix queue. That one sounds crazy fun.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:25 AM on February 12, 2019

One of the things I found most fascinating about the Baahubalis, Amarenda in the flashback sequences and Mahendra/Shivudu in the "present" is that they are characters with very little inner life, in the common western sense of the idea. They don't have much in the way of internal conflict, they almost always act without hesitation, save for two times they find their actions lead to separation from their mothers, Amarenda in challenging Sivagami by taking the side of Devasena in the disagreement between mother and wife, and Mahendra for failing to protect Devasena allowing her to be recaptured by Bhallaladeva.

The first triggers a flashback that shows why Amarenda defies Sivagami, his education through her own teachings leading him to the choice, and the second shows Mahendra momentarily at a loss for action, feeling a sense of self defeat in his failure. Other than that, both father and son act instantly in times of crisis, never needing to weight options or feeling doubt. (One could also add their respective courtships as well for having some sense of uncertainty about reciprocation of feeling and needing a more incremental approach, but the two men didn't doubt their feelings at all.)

It's the women in Amarenda and Mahendra's lives that essentially set them on the course they'll take and make the more complex decisions which define the area of conflict in the story. Baahubali is moral righteousness in action, but Devasena and Sivagami are the ones defining the terms. In that sense it's more the story of the women than of father and son. The Baahubalis get the cool action scenes befitting a demi-god, but the most powerful figures are Devasena and Sivagami. Bhallaladeva and Bijjaladeva get to rule by subverting Sivagami's affections for Baahubali through deceit. Bhallaladeva the impure opposite to Baahubali, but Sivagami's own son. Sivagami and Devasena may not be the physical equals to Baahubali and Bhallaladeva, but they are more fearsome in their moral determination to make the world as they would have it.

Amarenda, Mahendra, and Bhallaladeva are physically powerful, and the Baahubalis are pure in spirit, but it's the women of the movie who present the moral driving force of the story. When Amarenda and Mahendra act it is often to relieve the burden's of their mothers and wives in an attempt to free them from greater difficulty. That plays out awkwardly in the first movie, when Mahendra disarmors Avanthika, reading as undressing her against her will, but it also plays into the earlier scene where Avanthika is criticized for appearing to recognize herself as a woman instead of just a warrior.

I take it that the later scene with Mahendra was to act as something of an answer to that, suggesting something is out of order when Avanthika must deny the self over the greater need for justice that Mahendra will ultimately help provide. Obviously it still isn't great in how it plays, but it follows with the themes the rest of the movie goes into. Not so much denying Avanthika's determination or skill, in the same way Sivagami and Devasena's strength also aren't in question, but saying Baahubali will put things right again. The actions taken throughout are to restore harmony to imbalance.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:44 AM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I forgot to mention Kattappa. If Baahubali is essentially the embodiment of justice, then Kattappa is the embodiment of law. A slave to the throne who is at his most formidable when acting in concert with the sense of justice Baahubali carries. Kattappa and Baahubali act virtually as one knowing the assistance the other needs without needing signal. It's when that accord is broken that the kingdom falls into despotism as the law put to the wrong use ends justice, enabling tyrants.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:15 PM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

That was really well said, gusottertrout.

I really, really admired the Baahubali films. It's hard for me as a person (mostly) new to Indian cinema, because my knee jerk reaction when recommending this pair of films is to begin by explaining/apologizing for all of the ways in which they might turn off an uninitiated US viewer. It's good to put all of that in the rearview and just enjoy the movies on their own terms.

For me, Baahubali was like the modern day equivalent of those Alexander Korda films from the first half of the twentieth century. They have an unironic, unabashed joyfulness and a willingness to follow their fable-like story to exhilarating flights of imagination.

I'm actually thinking I should go see Manikarnika in the theater here, just hoping for a bit of the same magic from the same writers.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm right there with you. I mean it's important to acknowledge the problematic stuff, but the other industry differences are harder to explain to people used to seeing Hollywood movies. In a lot of ways, the Indian movie industry still operates like that of the old Hollywood studio system, but with over 20 different languages, at least seven of them with fairly major film production centers, and where the music industry is largely integrated with movies so films are often as much about selling the songs while the songs help sell the films. Some estimates I've seen had it that 70-80% of the music market comes from movies.

At the same time there are growing independent music and movie productions seeking to change that, with more films coming out that don't have the song interludes. The movie budgets are usually low, so there isn't the same level of production design and effects that Hollywood films tend to have and the stories don't necessarily follow the conventional patterns Hollywood movies do for coming from different sets of traditions. Most of that is pretty easy to grok after watching a few movies if you have some basic understanding of the cultural differences but it can confuse those who aren't as open to seeing something outside their comfort zone.

The Korda reference is a good one for Baahubali, there is something similar in the basic pleasures of telling a good story well onscreen and the excitement in the filmmaking craft involved. South Indian cinema right now has a lot of that kind of excitement in experimenting for coming more into its own in recent years, giving filmmakers a chance to dig in to new areas and see what they can create. That's the same thing that happened in the Korean film industry back in the nineties and it charges the movies with a special added energy for having so many people pushing themselves to new levels.

For what it's worth, I've heard Manikarnika has a solid story, good lead actress, and presents a nice change of dynamic in having her as the action lead, but that the direction is weak and the rest of the cast not so hot. The trailer seemed to support that take from what I could tell, but I haven't seen it to say for sure. I'd imagine though that with the right crowd it could still be a lot of fun to see in the theater. I'd much rather see it that way than later on video anyway.

I generally don't suggest movies since trying to figure out what other people might like can be difficult in the best of times, but I will offer Pournami as something you might find fun. It's a masala film mixing romantic comedy in the first half with a action filled middle section that all blends together in the finale. The story has a dance driven hook to it so the songs and dancing have a purpose to the story, leading, in fact, to one of my favorite movie endings where the dancing and action all comes together in one fantastic eight minute sequence. It's on youtube with subs, but with a bunch of those annoying pop up banners throughout, so that might make it tough to watch if those really throw off the experience for you. I don't know where else it might be available since I don't have Netflix or any subscription services, but if you find a version maybe give it a shot. I'd be curious to hear your take on it. (No worries if it doesn't interest you though. I wouldn't want to push anyone to watching stuff they don't think they'd enjoy.)
posted by gusottertrout at 12:53 AM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

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