I might slip into a cesspool of hate in criticizing India’s most successful movie, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. One of my Telugu colleague eyes beamed with pride when she told me how she watched first day first show & how this movie has propelled Telugu movies in the same league of Hollywood. People in India often put actors and politicians in pedestal with overwhelming emotions which is why it is sometimes difficult to have bonafide criticism of more than real life people like Rajinikanth in Tamil Nadu or Salman Khan in UP or Bihar.
Baahubali 2: The Conclusion has very high rating in both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. So it wouldn’t be surprising that I would be in minority to really not like movie.
So what is my pet peeve? It is a wishy-washy fable lacking any complex story, replete with dazzling cinematic visuals but lacking in art of story telling. If you shred the movie of its beautiful cinematography & dances, its story is in monotone, highly predictable and doesn’t do justice to be hailed as an pan-Indian movie.
Baahubali 2 reinstate the concept of messiah or hero worship. An all powerful Thor like king who shoots arrows immaculately mocking Newtonian idea of gravity comes to save hapless subjects. Indians are often familiar with the concept of messiah. It’s innocuously promulgated by movies, where one good cop or politicians lives altruistically and like a dynastic royal king solves problems of the people.
Indira Gandhi made a riveting election slogan “Garibi Hatao desh bachao” (“Abolish poverty, save the nation”) and swung back to power. Did garibi (poverty) actually vanished from India? Similar slogan was coined by Narendra Modi, “Achhe din aane waale hain” (Good days are coming). God like politician with halo around them have made similar slogans, like Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi, Mayawati, Lalu Prashad, etc and is often easily bought by gullible people.
This image of a hero riding on a stallion with brandishing sword to eliminate evil and help subjects is inimical to idea of democracy. Democracy works by participation of masses with share of responsibilities. It’s not a solo reign of god like creature who has come for salvation of masses. In a true and fair democracy, even god can be questioned.
The flourishing godmen in Indian who have been accused of terrorism, rape , etc have still have hordes of people rallying for them. India probably has the only constitution in the world which explicitly promotes scientific temper.
'To develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform' is one of the fundamental duties of the people of the Republic of India, according to the Constitution of India.
India boast of being the largest producer of films in the world and second oldest film industry in the world which originated around about 105 years ago. However it is appalling that most of the movies panders to stereotype and many lack any imaginative script albeit there are exceptions.
The Ramayana or Mahabharata can easily dwarf likes of Iliad or Odyssey by Homer. India is replete with myriad art of story telling even without the advent of technology. It’s sad that with all the visual fireworks, Baahubali may be among India’s highest grossing film, but has fell short to become an epic pan Indian film like Mother India.