Baahubali 2 wowed me but not mainly for the visual effects (which are great) or the fight scenes. I was bowled over by the portrayal of Devasena’s character and her love story with Baahubali.
There has been criticism of the portrayal of the love story between Shiva and Avantika in Baahubali 1. I noticed that Avantika turns from a warrior to a docile ‘my Shiva will do my job‘ after falling in love. Looks like the director did take note of the criticism.
Note: No spoilers ahead.
Why was I so happy? Because for the first time in a mainstream Indian movie:
- The woman is the same before and after falling in love/marriage. She does not tone down in her retorts or become obedient and servile.
- She dares to talk back to her boyfriend/fiancé/husband ‘s mother in front of everyone several times and there are no repercussions from her partner.
- Her partner never once says – ‘You need to apologize to my mom‘ or ‘She is like that. She is old. Forgive her and adjust‘. Not once.
- The guy is a total momma’s boy from the beginning but he dares to oppose his mother in the court in front of everyone in support of his wife/fiancée/girlfriend.
- He still stands by his wife even when his mom ignores him and stops talking to him.
- Arrogance in a woman is not punished.
Usually, the only women who can get away with arrogance or talking back in Indian movies are villains or women who don’t get the guy in the end (think Padayappa). The lead women usually don’t talk back like that after falling in love. Of course, the rest of the movie goes into clichés like having men to the rescue and revenge.
The reason it is so ground breaking in my eyes is because everything from popular culture to our society don’t endorse or showcase such behaviour. It is always about respect and
blind obedience to one’s parents. I have heard a lot of times about how Indian (and other Asian) sons do not support their wives or speak up for them in front of their families and instead tell their wives to adjust or along the lines of ‘sorry, I can’t do anything‘. Check IHM’s or Madh mama’s blogs for examples of letters from women whose husbands don’t support them and instead keep mum when it comes to their parents.
I tried to think of an Indian movie where a similar thing happens and I could not think of any. Do you think there are other examples in Indian movies where the lady is rude/talks back to her partner’s parents and still has her partner’s full support and is not portrayed as reformed or remorseful after that?