Just Because Someone Liked 'Harry Potter' Or 'LOTR', It Isn't Their Patriotic Duty To Like 'Bahubali' Too

It's a film. Not the country's Constitution.

Some people — a confusing group of humans who insist three-hour-long movies shouldn't be made on the subject of male biceps — have declared Bahubali:The Conclusion a perfect excuse to practice eye-rolling. They have been accused of a terrifying crime called common sense. And have been pulled up for not showing the basic human decency of breaking into 'Meri desh ki dharti, sona ugle, ugle hire moti' at the mere sight of Prabhas tackling elephants like they are hair dryers. Is it fair that you call yourselves Cumberbitches and Potterheads but don't want to put #BahuBro or #Baliber as your Facebook status? The nation wants you to know: no, not possible, never, #NaNaNaNaNaRe.

An extremely unnecessary human affliction called rationality is asking you to question this accusation. First, why does anyone who dislikes Bahubali get deported to team Troy-300-Hercules aka White-Men-In-Leather-Minis? How does a Bahubali fan arrive to the conclusion that a person who dislikes his favourite movie must automatically love Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit? It's like concluding you must love Coca Cola because you don't like masala papad. And that's a crime.

Assuming you like the Harry Potters and Gollums of the world, do you have a moral duty to express appreciation for Amarendra Bahubali and Ballal Deva? Let's examine this bit.

Is Bahubali: The Conclusion an act of charity? If you have watched the film in a multiplex, you have shelled out no less than 200 rupees to watch it. A sum of money which, hopefully, you earned yourself by some legal means. It's a commercial transaction — your having watched the film and the makers of the product, the film in this case, profiting from your spending on it. Are you allowed to say you didn't like it one bit? Looks like you are. Are you an unpatriotic twat for doing that? Well, then you are that as well if you have complained about potholes on roads, a badly-made aloo paratha, jokes in Sajid Khan movies, the IRCTC's website, Delhi's summer and Mumbai's traffic. They're as 'Indian' as Bahubali. The criteria of appreciating a film can't be that it is 'Indian'.

Rough estimates of floating around the Internet peg Bahubali: The Conclusion's budget at Rs 250 crores. Dharma Productions — one of the biggest Bollywood production houses — is distributing the film. SS Rajamouli has made at least 8 films before the Bahubali series. So really, Bahubali need not be treated like a child learning cursive writing or your grandfather trying to make a GIF for the first time. It's difficult to understand why no one is allowed to dislike the films because "at least they are trying to do something like LOTR", as the outraged are saying.

Bahubali: The Conclusion follows the good versus evil format of most movies of the fantasy genre. It's symbolism is extensively reminiscent of Hindu myths and fables and it is a fairly unmasked celebration of Lord Shiva. It also follows the central theme of most mainstream Indian movies — the hero worship of an all-powerful, stereotypically masculine, male figure. In Bahubali, the hero is not only an ardent worshipper of Lord Shiva, he is ready to lay down his life for his mother — another successful trope of melodrama in Indian popular cinema. Put together, it isn't difficult to see how Bahubali has managed to stoke this fervent, devotion-like sentiment among Indian audiences. Now, none of this is completely problematic in the world of fictional film-making as long as the movie is well-scripted and executed. But that's exactly what Bahubali: The Conclusion isn't.

Bahubali is a film which treats women like second-class citizens in its universe. The first film had the hero do really creepy stuff on a sleeping woman who possibly didn't go off to sleep expecting some dude paint on her hands. And he doesn't stop at that. Despite the woman's protests, he puts colour on her mouth, yanks open her braid, and nearly strips her, apparently to bring out her femininity. The second part associates courage and masculinity with cutting up tree trunks, human beings and pillars. Bahubali:The Conclusion pays a token nod to "strong, independent women" by creating the character of Devsena, a warrior princess. But, at the end of the day, she first needs to get saved by her paramour and then has to be rescued by her son. If you have found in Bahubali some great treatise on women's empowerment, thank you — us women will settle for online sales in the name of 'empowerment' instead. The actors in Bahubali declare they are Kshatriyas more number of times Donald Trump has whined about China. And then make themselves sound like one can't do without them. Let's call it the Aadhaar Card complex.

Now, what can make anyone un-see all of the above? Nothing.

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