Bahubali2: why it gets under your skin

It irks people or pleases them. I guess why. But my guesses are hazardous: so, instead of sending them as a letter to the editor of a newspaper, I am writing a Blog.
When you say you “like” something, o when it “irritates” you, you are evaluating. That comes from your thinking part. Way before thinking though, and a much more unconscious level, we feel. The movie (esp. BB2) hooks you because it has multiple appeals to your feeling and the arational part, and therefore it has something for everyone: to love or hate. So it is so successful. Here’s about its appeal:
1. Rasa, the cream rising atop the churning of emotions: विभावानुभावव्यभिचारिसंयोगाद्ररस निष्पत्ति:।
The foremost principle of Natyashastra says that the play we watch produces an emotional equivalent of essence or nectar, which comes from the churning of emotions.
The dormant rasa resides in the hearts of all the viewers who have suitable predispositions. (Those who have not, get irritated because their emotional profile doesn’t match with what the play has to offer.)
When we see the movie, our dormant emotional profile gets stirred mainly by the acting of the Hero.
Strike-1: Bahubali (especially BB2) invokes one major emotion: Veer rasa conveying valor and enthusiasm. It has merged into another Rasa, which is Shringar. It is a mix of attraction, romance, chivalry and dedication. See how BB1 differs from BB2 here. BB1 simply shows the crude, erotic expressions and moves, like taking away the clothes of an unknown girl. BB2 has better to offer. And the second minor Rasa is Adbhuta, full of surprises. BB2 does that with sumptuous visual feasts. Whether we find them acceptable or not is a matter of thinking part, remember. The churning happens because these rasas compete with each other for our attentions, merge into each other at some time while replacing each other at some other. Therefore, you have a constant experience of churning emotions and emergence of Rasa.
Strike-2: The emotional profile of a viewer is tingled by the hero’s stage presence and acting. Must say, he is charming, tall, well-built, and intense. Who wouldn’t love a man who jumps into the water to let you walk on his shoulders to get to the boat? And there’s more of that. This hero is a lover, son, the crown prince, and more. He fills these roles within roles with smooth presence and acting.
Strike-3: The hero’s acting is given meaning by his other for every Rasa. Who wouldn’t love Devasena’s youthful character? She charms and surprises us because she beats the stereotype of a Barbie-doll princess (read dumb and good-for-nothing except when sitting pretty). And the way they mix romance and valor – like the scene where the two fight in dance-like moves in total synchronization (Did I not say, don’t judge, yet? – we are not talking about whether it is realistic or not. We are saying why people find it difficult to remain apathetic to this movie).
There’s more to Rasa, but this much will do for now.
2. Individual and social identity-ideals:
I am not talking about the unreal, the excessive or simply the unconvincing elements of the movie. The movie hooks that spot of our unconscious where we hoard the parts of the ideal identities that we wish our self or our society to be.
BB’s strength, and all that apart, the senior BB and Devasena stand up for their convictions. The queen may have lapsed in judgment, but they stand up for their values. They pay the price. And what a price…
We come out to sit in our drawing-room and blame the society, the system, or whatever. Because it doesn’t support people who take a stand. We know that taking a stand means giving up the rest of your life – or giving up the life – and fighting just for one thing, whether you will get it in your lifetime or not.
When we face unfairness, we wish we had support. From someone, anyone – but we don’t, so we evaluate that ‘flexibility is better, ideals are stupid’. But we know that that kind of society is no good. We wish we had that kind of society, but that remains as an unrealized ideal.
Anthony Giddens said (something roughly like:) that man creates the society, then society creates the man. So, in an unfair society, we reduce, dilute, restrain ourselves even when it is unfair to us to do so, and wish we could be what we could have been.
Strike-4: This is where BB2 hits at an underground level. You know that Bhallal won by treachery, yet BB kept his trust. Bhallal aNi company called him a dog, yet Kattappa kept his dedication. Or, Devasena took insults and what not for 25 years. Devasena’s parents wed their daughter to the prince of an empire, but the empire burnt them down. We will be wiser than all of these, put together, but we know that we should have not been so.
It is stirring that we are too conscious and too self-conscious to pay attention to, and therefore we just laugh at it. Or we love it.
When we laugh at the broken laws of physics [in the movie], we actually subdue the noise of broken code of fairness.
… But why to make so much of a mere movie?

2 thoughts on “Bahubali2: why it gets under your skin

  1. Sunil Sharma says:

    What about ‘Palayan ras’?

    And who is a ‘Hero’? – Someone who can do things that we can’t.


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