Indian films especially South Indian films are often blamed for using the heroines as just glam dolls. In the past few years, not just in India but globally the debates and discussions on importance of women in cinema are going on and that would probably continue for few more years we guess. Let’s not go to that topic but focus on Baahubali. We can proudly say India’s biggest blockbuster have some supremely powerful women in it, thanks to master craftsman S.S. Rajamouli and his father and writer of Baahubali K.V. Vijayendra Prasad. In Baahubali (as a whole story) we don’t find many women characters, the most important ones are Sivagami, Devasena and Avanthika. Each of them are structured characters, they are powerful, they are beautiful and they are equal to the men (at times superior).
Must mention that they are never controlled by any other external forces, they have got brains and possess their individuality. And not to miss, even the character of Sanga, Mahendra Baahubali’s foster mother played by Rohini is a very dominating woman. So in Baahubali, unlike other royal dramas, we don’t see women simply wooing the prices and kings. Even though the film’s title is the hero’s name and he or rather ‘they’ are is the center of the story, the women are also very fierce and admirable. Now lets take a close look at each of the important women from the epic saga Baahubali.
Alert : There might be spoilers ahead!
Rajamata Sivagami Devi
The first ever scene that we see in Baahubali, The Beginning is this queen like lady with a new born baby in her hands is fighting and struggling to keep this baby alive. In the first sight itself we understand that this no ordinary woman, she is someone very special. Rajamouli has said that his father started narrating the story of Baahubali from the character of Sivagami, she is the basement of the story. The kingdom of Maahishmathi is secured by the Rajamata. She, in the absence of the king is protecting and maintaining the kingdom until she finds the perfect heir for the throne. The beauty of the character lies in her motherhood. Amarendra Baahubali is what he is because of Sivagami and the mother-son sentiments works beautifully in the film. No one can forget the introduction of Sivagami from the second half of Baahubali, The Beginning. In the Conclusion, she becomes the center of the conflict.
It is a bit confusing that how Bijjaladeva (Nasser) convinces Sivagami that Amarendra’s thoughts has turned evil and that is the only negative we can find in the character sketch. It would have been more convincing if the trauma of Sivagami seeing her beloved son opposing her got a little more emphasized. But never mind, Rajamata Sivagami Devi is a character that the Indian audience will never forget. Ramya Krishnan had nailed the role, her magnificently beautiful eyes were the highlight of the appearance. She is an artist who has done over 200 films in 5 languages but with her performance she makes the audience forget the actress and see Sivagami alone. The drama between Devasena and Sivagami stood out as both the characters are strong as well as the actresses who are playing it. Over all Rajamata Sivagami Devi is nothing less than an authentic puranic character.
I really wanted to learn sword fighting after seeing Tamannaah fight in Baahubali, The Beginning! It is through Avanthika Sivudu a.k.a Mahendra Baahubali knows about Devasena and sets off to Maahishmathi. Avanthika’s character is the catalyst in the process of Sivudu’s realization about his true identity. Her first appearance is as the dream girl in Dheevara song, beautiful like a fairy, Sivudu’s imaginary sequence takes him up the waterfalls. But in reality Avanthika is a fierce warrior girl who kills men with ease and pretends to be stone hearted to achieve her tribe’s goal. She is capable enough to be chosen as the agent to release Devasena from hostage and bring her back.
Now when we see the two movies as one story, the purpose of this character in the film is to get Sivudu to Maahishmathi. When the character is concerned, the role has got enough screen space and I consider in the Conclusion it was a good thing to not cut from the flashback and insert a song or some other sequences for Avanthika and Sivudu. Tamannaah was portrayed both glamorously and boldly in the film. Her effort to get the stunts perfect was a huge boost to the first part. Only the romance in the first part seemed a little cheesy. Avanthika is this girl who can inspire a man to achieve big but at the same time fight a hundred men all by herself. She is certainly a representation of women power.
Devasena is the only woman character in Baahubali who travels all along both the periods. Anushka Shetty is the only option to play the role and she looked so beautiful that often you don’t look at anything else in the frame but Anushka. Also Devasena was safe in Anushka’s hands as she is such a fabulous performer. I went on to write about Anushka Shetty before writing about the character because it is impossible to think about Devasena without her image in your mind. So in the first part we don’t get to know much about Devasena, all we know is that she is in hostage of Bhallaladeva (Rana Daggubati), is awaiting her son who is believed to be dead, she is old and is in torn and ugly cloths but the fire in her eyes say that this woman was a lioness in her past.
In the second part Devasena is as important to the film as Amarendra Baahubali. She is intelligent, beautiful, she had mastered the use of weapons and she a bit arrogant. Her love for Amarendra seems genuine but at times we feel why this lady is blaming the entire Maahishmathi and it’s constitution just because of Bhallaladeva and Sivagami. But every girl would wish to be like Devasena, she is actually a representative of the modern day women. She is progressive, she wants to react the bad deeds that happen in front her eyes, she is not afraid of confronting enemies and she is a feminist by nature! Above all she is a woman who knows what is right and what is wrong.
Amarendra Baahubali may seem like a shadow of Sri Rama but Devasena is nowhere close to Seetha, she would be in the category of Kannagi or Rani Laxmibai. Through Devasena Rajamouli has shown that a heroine can be a complete character, every detail of her can be explored and we can say a man’s story even through her life. Devasena is the epitome of persistence, fierceness and here too the mother’s love and her hope works brilliantly. This character will be a part of the history and the role of women in Indian cinema.
In one of the most powerful scenes of Baahubali, The Conclusion Amarendra Baahubali says that if a man dares to touch a woman without her permission then it is not his fingers that has to be cut but it is his head. The film hasn’t let women down. S.S. Rajamouli has given the women all their dignity in the magnum opus project. Baahubali can be remembered for its portrayal of women alone! We wish to have more Sivagamis, Devasenas and Avanthikas in films as well as in our societies.
Hardcore Film Lover and Ardent Movie Goer, Aspiring Film Maker.