When Baahubali 2 released on 28 April 2017, it was like a paradigm-shifting moment in Indian cinema. A franchise that celebrates an Epic saga about these manly men who fight about masculine, manly things, it’s fair to say that it’s one of the most iconic, fan-favourite movies of all time. But what we must consider is the female characters in Baahubali 2. SS Rajamouli has written them down as empowered, brave women, with all the beauty and femininity of ancient India. Although they are supporting the main character, that is Mahendra Baahubali and his son, Amarendra Baahubali, they are just as individualistic, will-powered, and independent. Here’s to Sivagami, Devasena, and Avanthika–played by Ramya Krishnan, Anushka Shetty and Tamannah, respectively.
She’s introduced into the Baahubali franchise in the most chilling, dramatic way. Drowning in the current but holding the baby high up, saving him before herself, Sivagami is established as being a fierce, magnetic force of a woman. Because of her handicapable husband, she assumes the throne’s power, and treats both her children–Bhallaladeva and Baahubali–equally, even though the former is her own and the latter is adopted. She isn’t portrayed as the perfrect woman either; her pride and obstinate behaviour is her Achilles’ Heel, and is rather insensitive towards Devasena. Yet, her steadfast nature and wisdom makes her respected throughout the kingdom. Kudos to Rajamouli for writing a female character who is not all good or all bad. She’s in the grey–like most of us.
Young, beautiful and powerful, Devasena is equal parts femininity and righteousness. She is a competitive warrior, skilled in the bow-and-arrow; she is Arjuna from the Mahabharata. And it’s so refreshing to see a female version. Devasena chooses Baahubali just as much as he chooses her, and even offers him advice and suggestions on how he should use his power responsibly. “Go back to the kingdom” she tells Amarendra Baahubali. And he does. When Devasena is pregnant, and they are both labouring in exile, she still works along with the other men and women. Her femininity is never an obstacle. It only keeps adding to her strength.
Although she plays but a fleeting role in Baahubali 2, in the first film she is Amarendra Baahubali’s lover. A rebellious warrior who is part of a geurilla group of soldiers, Avanthika seems like a young woman from the 20th century. She loves too, deeply so, but doesn’t let go of the warrior that she is. Her strength defines her, and it’s what Amarendra–like us–love about her.
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