Old school Is The New Cool: Insights From The Baahubali Franchise

Posted by Narayani Subramanian
July 1, 2017

Baahubali. The name that is being said by all. The movie that is being dissected by all. Whether it is good or bad, is upto you, but it is definitely a happening movie. There are franchises around the movie and the movie itself becomes a franchise. It is becoming a brand/cult. Whether we like it or not, it is in our minds. It gave a better opinion about South Indian Film Industry to the people north of the Vindhyas. Everyone is watching it, everyone is planning to watch it, some had decided not to watch it until the hype comes down… but everyone is talking about it.

There can be a million reasons as to why a work of art becomes appealing. Cinema, being a labour of love and an arresting form of art, has a lot of unique selling points. However, when it comes to cinema, we exercise a lot of prejudice in choice. In spite of all this, this movie has recorded a pan-Indian success. There might be a lot of reasons for the success of this movie, but I personally feel it is because of our longing for the old school things. There is an intense yearning for going back to the basics, at least in all the non-millennial generations. For the millennials probably, all this seems curious and interesting.

Let me break it down and say how Baahubali re-establishes the cool old school.


Kings and Queens:

We might be a proud democracy, we might have reasons for favouring democracy to monarchy, but we have retained our awe for royalty. Even now, we cannot describe a majestic looking outfit without using the words “royal” or “regal”. We want to “live life king size”. We see women “looking like a queen”. We have “royal” feasts. Our vocabulary documents our love, awe and respect for royalty. When royalty in all its glory and authenticity is presented to us on screen, we are drawn to it naturally. We all want a king who is adored by all, we all want a queen who is like a loving mother and we all want to dote a prince and recommend him openly for the crown. Nothing like a good old fashioned Raja-rani story to make us applaud.

Women:

The women in Baahubali do not use the word Feminism, but they are feminists. They don’t ask for equal rights. When they are not treated equally, they don’t mind snatching the right and claiming it for themselves. They are honestly, un-apologetically… original. They are not afraid to make mistakes and they are not afraid to take decisions. They are not worried about being emotional. They are what they are. They don’t wait for their men to save them; they have daggers at their disposal. They hit back when faced with a harassment. They stand in royal courts and talk back to the ones beyond question. They all handle weapons and use their words with flair. In a pivotal scene, where the princess Devasena declares, “I don’t even mind being in your servitude as a servant…”, I was ready to roll my eyes at yet another warrior princess totally mellowed down by love. But then she slayed it by completing, “But I would never, ever agree to be a prisoner”. This is what feminists have been trying to do all along. For women to be able to retain their uniqueness while being equal. A woman can be in servitude to the one in love, but even then, it is her choice. A prisoner has none. A strong woman would never be a prisoner, even to her loved one. She doesn’t even mind locking horns with her lover for her own right for equality.

Morals:

Nowadays, the world has become fuzzy in terms of morals. We have been taught about morals and ethics, but we are clouded by rights and privacies. This movie portrays a world where morals reign supreme. Where the rules of a land are questioned by a newcomer daughter-in-law; where the Rajmatha decides it is better for the brother to rule rather than the rightful heir. My favourite sequence is when the hero throws away the rules when he learns that there has been a harassment. He takes matters into his own hands and gives the offender punishment according to morals. This is followed by the Rajmatha banishing him, the son-of-the-soil, the-people’s-king because what he did might be morally right, but as per rules, it is wrong. The constant battle between what is right and what is required to be done is the underline of the film. This battle is bigger than any of the wars in the movie with weapons and soldiers.
We are living in times where we long for the old school, where we believe that old school is the new cool, where the world has come to a full circle and morals and ethics are coming back to vogue. This movie reminded me of the good old days, our glorious past and reminded me once again, that morals never go out of fashion.

For a few years now, I have been thinking about what has changed in the society since the time of my childhood. But watching this movie reminds me that, as a society, we have lost so much more when we compare ourselves to the times of dynasty. They might have been technologically less equipped, but in terms of morals and values, they reigned supreme. I now long for kings who were taught to respect women, for queens who will bow down to no one, for loyalty, for ethics, for morals.

More than anything, I long for people in power actually discussing what is right and what is wrong before making any decision.

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