Monday, November 30, 2020
Home Opinions Why the so-called liberals of India hate Bahubali the movie so much

Why the so-called liberals of India hate Bahubali the movie so much

Bahubali, the movie, is outraging the liberals, this is fairly noticeable. The first part of the movie had also outraged them, but the second part, which is breaking all trade records, is hurting them even more. They can barely conceal their petulance as people are trooping into the theaters across the country and even abroad to savor this ripping length of yarn.

‘What ignoramuses!’ they are exclaiming while turning up their haughty noses. But the masses are not paying heed. They are enchanted by the graces of the beauteous and brave Devasena, the proud Sivagami, and the heroism of the mighty armed father and son – Amarendra and Mahendra Bahubali.

Since their upturned haughty noses failed to stem the tide of Bahubali fans flooding the theaters, the liberals took to spreading canards about the film. Never before, in my memory, a film, a mere film, has elicited such a quantum of intellectual effort from so many.

Sundry commentators and social justice warriors hectored us ignorant folks on left-leaning news portals. We ought not to watch this film, one of them told us, because of its ‘casteist, supremacist logic’ and the ‘reek’ of ‘Aryan supremacy’ that rises from it. Apparently, the film provides a poor olfactory experience because it has ‘fair skinned heroes and heroines’ who uphold the rigid caste hierarchies of their land. Well, to my eyes, the skin tone of all the principal actors of both the Bahubali films is a smooth and (very attractive) shade of South Indian brown. The liberals, however, seem to wear oddly tinged spectacles which keep their eyes from discerning the true shades of the people and things around.

Secondly, the narrative does not ever even hint that its chief characters are striving to preserve the primordial hierarchies of caste. The villains are motivated by their jealousies and the hero by the desire to realize his destiny. The only allusion to caste in both the films is the Kshatriya status of the principal characters. But if that amounts to consciously promoting caste than probably William Wyler’s Ben Hur showing the enslavement of its Jewish protagonist Juda Ben Hur is a promotion of both anti-Semitism and slavery.

Our liberals, I assume, are familiar with the tropes of literary criticism (being generally privy to an elite liberal education) and might do well to remember that depicting a situation in a narrative does not necessarily amount to countenancing it.

The Bahubali films have also been faulted for their portrayal of the Kalakeyas as these ‘dark skinned savages’ who refuse to accept the ‘beautiful civility of the caste system.’ Yes, the Kalakeyas are indeed shown to be dark skinned savages but neither of the two movies tell us whether they accept or reject the ‘civility’ of the caste hierarchy. We do not know, but somehow the liberals do.

A film meant for popular consumption needs villains to establish the heroism of its hero and the Kalakeyas serve precisely that purpose. Also, talking of the pales of caste, isn’t Bahubali junior nurtured outside it? After all, in the first film we saw him being raised by a forest dwelling tribe outside the limits of both Mahishmati and caste. The liberals, since they choose their examples with a casual liberality, conveniently ignore this detail.

What about the roar of the praja (people) bringing down the royal chatra (canopy) at a point in Bahubali 2? That is another radical moment that seems to have completely escaped the notice of our outraged liberals.

Why are the liberals so outraged? The reasons, in my understanding, are several.

To begin with, the story’s setting, the Kingdom of Mahishmati, seems so like a polity straight out of a classical Sanskrit political treatise or epic. Like the characters in the Mahabharata, those of Bahubali 2 debate and etch the tensions between vidhi (the law of the land) and dharma (a very protean term which in this context could mean ‘realizing and doing what is just in a given situation’).

I do not know if it does so consciously, but Bahubali 2 evokes India’s classical literary heritage and does so unabashedly. Afflicted with a deep rooted, and to me incomprehensible, self-hatred as they are, this is seemingly somewhat unacceptable to our liberals.

Then there is the film’s visual platter. It is a gorgeous feast for the eyes overlaid with a creative mingling of classical South Indian art and architecture and an aesthetic imagining that seems to derive both from the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma and the panels of Amar Chitra Katha. Bahubali 2’s visual platter is a very effective fusion of the classical and popular strains of Indian art. It is so very Indic. But that is not the chief reason why it is not appealing to our liberals.

Presumably, Bahubali 2’s canvass is offending and wounding the delicate liberal perceptual faculties because the deities – Shiva, Ganesha, and the Devi – periodically flit through it. Bahubali 2’s aesthetics are perceptibly suffused with a sense of the sacred.

The film’s normative landscape too is so Indic. It is a polity wedded to a socio-religious order which honors the gods. Warriors offer sacrifice to the Devi before commencing a battle, the queen mother walks barefoot to a temple to keep a vow.

However, implicit in this alliance of the polity and the socio-religious order is the assumption that it lasts only as long as it upholds and sustains dharma. In the end when it ceases to do so, the praja and even the ‘slave’ Katappa rebel and help Mahendra Bahubali defeat and kill his evil uncle.

The ethical concerns of Bahubali 2 are deeply rooted in the cultural unconscious of our people and they are resonating enormously with them. Our liberals, however, are incapable of understanding the underlying logic of this resonance.

In the end, while being aware that this is probably too big a complement to bestow upon a mere film, Bahubali 2’s pan-Indian success indicates the essential civilizational oneness of all India and our liberals’ complete disconnect with the ethical foundations of this oneness. They are, after all, not quite Indians. They are South Asians.

Bahubali 2 is no more just a film; it is a social and political phenomenon. The overwhelming approval that the ‘Bahubbali phenomenon’ has received from the Indian masses makes it a part of the enormous and curious something that has been unfolding around us since 2014.

Liberals, please take the next available flight, train or bus out of your la la land. It is about time. All your censorious reviews have not helped. The people, across the length and breadth of our vast land, are just loving Bahubali 2. Repressed or nearly effaced cultural memories and aspirations are perhaps indeed contributing to its popularity. We can expect Bahubali 2 to remain on a mighty roll for the next few weeks. The mighty liberal disapproval of it notwithstanding.

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Saumya Dey
Saumya Dey is an Assistant Professor of History at O.P. Jindal Global University.

Related Articles

Trending now

Farmer thanks PM Modi for mentioning him during Mann Ki Baat, narrates how the passage of Farm Bills helped him

PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat speech came just as the issue has been raked up once again as ‘farmers’ from Punjab and Haryana have marched towards Delhi to protest against the farm bills.

SFJ ads appear on YouTube offering $10m support for farmers, in return, wants Sikhs to join ‘Khalistan movement’: Details

Amid ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, it is evident that Khalistani supporters have hijacked the protests and now, they are running ads on YouTube

A year after quitting Congress over ‘petty politics’, Urmila set to join Shiv Sena, to be nominated as MLC

Urmila Matondkar is expected to be nominated as MLC by the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra government

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

NIA refutes claims about ‘activist’ Stan Swamy’s straw and sipper seized by agency. Read details

NIA stated that when Stan Swamy's personal search was undertaken in presence of two independent witnesses no such straw or sipper was found on him as claimed by him.

France, Germany, UK and all other countries we should boycott for using water cannon and tear gas

As a newly woke nation, we also have a moral responsibility to oppose other countries that carry out atrocities such as using water cannons on protesters.

Recently Popular

Wife of late Wajid Khan writes on her sufferings in an inter-faith marriage, says anti-conversion law should be nationalised

Wife of late music composer Wajid Khan wrote how her husband and his family had been forcing her to convert to Islam after their marriage

Actor Deep Sandhu disappoints Barkha Dutt after she provides platform to ‘distance himself’ from OpIndia report that he supports Khalistan

Barkha Dutt lamented after actor Deep Sidhu refused to condemn Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and to call him terrorist on her YouTube channel

Who is the man in farmer protest video, lying about ‘govt snatching farmland’: Profile of an actor and Khalistan supporter

Khalistan supporter Punjabi actor Deep Sidhu has been seen spreading the lie that govt will snatch farmer's land using the new farm laws

‘Will not say Jai Hind, will teach lesson to Modi like we taught Indira’: Khalistani protester in presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Sikh protester threatens to teach Modi a lesson in the save way they taught Indira Gandhi in the presence of AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

As Iran vows to avenge their nuclear scientist Fakhrizadeh’s murder, read how 62-member squad planned and carried out his assassination

The killing of Fakhrizadeh is the latest in the serious high-profile assassinations of people belonging to Iranian regime since the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.

Farmer thanks PM Modi for mentioning him during Mann Ki Baat, narrates how the passage of Farm Bills helped him

PM Modi's Mann Ki Baat speech came just as the issue has been raked up once again as ‘farmers’ from Punjab and Haryana have marched towards Delhi to protest against the farm bills.

Rebellion inside Rahul’s Congress grows, Anand Sharma defies party line, hails PM Modi for visit to Coronavirus vaccine hubs

A day after Congress criticised PM Modi's visit to Coronavirus vaccine hubs, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma has defied the party line

From support for zamindars to ‘protest will help overthrow Modi govt’: A saga of clueless people at farmer protest

A series of interview of protestors by the team of Know the Nation reveals how many of these protestors are completely clueless about why they are there

SFJ ads appear on YouTube offering $10m support for farmers, in return, wants Sikhs to join ‘Khalistan movement’: Details

Amid ongoing farmers’ protests in Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi, it is evident that Khalistani supporters have hijacked the protests and now, they are running ads on YouTube

President of farmer organisation says they will block all five entry points to Delhi because Burari park is an ‘open jail’: Details

The farmers protesting against the Modi government over new farm laws have rejected Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s proposal for a discussion on their grievances.

A year after quitting Congress over ‘petty politics’, Urmila set to join Shiv Sena, to be nominated as MLC

Urmila Matondkar is expected to be nominated as MLC by the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra government

‘Haven’t you seen how they cry, do ‘haye tauba’: Here is what Amit Shah said, responding to Owaisi’s comment about illegal Rohingyas

Amit Shah said when he takes action against Rohingyas and Bangladeshis back, leaders like Owaisi stand against him in Lok Sabha.

Indian man proposes to his Australian girlfriend during Ind vs Aus cricket match, here is what happened next

While India's performance has been below par, netizens found happiness in the unusual proposal that became the highlight of the match.

NIA refutes claims about ‘activist’ Stan Swamy’s straw and sipper seized by agency. Read details

NIA stated that when Stan Swamy's personal search was undertaken in presence of two independent witnesses no such straw or sipper was found on him as claimed by him.

France, Germany, UK and all other countries we should boycott for using water cannon and tear gas

As a newly woke nation, we also have a moral responsibility to oppose other countries that carry out atrocities such as using water cannons on protesters.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
490,968FollowersFollow
20,200SubscribersSubscribe