Ever since S.S. Rajamouli’s conclusion to the magnum opus ‘Bahubali: The Beginning’ was released in cinema halls all over India, the nation is engulfed in the huge debate surrounding the charm of the franchise. Be it the unapologetic and glorious approach to the values of Sanatan Dharma, or the embodiment of the essentials of Indian culture in the famed kingdom of Mahishmati, or even the out of this world special effects, there is absolutely no aspect that this director hasn’t touched upon in making this masterpiece, apart from relieving his fans of the dilemma of why Katappa killed Bahubali! The dedication that the entire team has given to this franchise is something that is unmatched in any aspect of Indian cinema, something the current Bollywood can never match as of now.
However, what is more talked about, is the portrayal of the female characters in the franchise. Unlike the glossy, overrated glamor dolls or the damsels in distress that the Bollywood segment of the Indian film industry wants to stamp on our minds, the regional cinema knows the importance of a woman in a man’s life far better. Be it the regent of Mahishmati, or the eternal rebel Avanthika, or even the custodian of Mahishmati’s honor, Devasena, Rajamouli has skillfully portrayed the personality of an ideal Indian woman, i.e. the one who never gives up, gentle, yet tough and unintimidating.
Of the major female roles in Bahubali, the one that has impressed the audiences and critics like is that of Devasena, a warrior princess from Kuntala Desa, who is the wife of the famous warrior, and heir apparent to the throne of Mahishmati, Amarendra Bahubali, apart from being the mother of Mahendra Bahubali, or Shivudu, as his adopted clan knew him.
Devasena is not the typical Indian woman the pseudo liberals would like you to believe in: a tortured image of an oppressed, servile Indian woman tormented by the demons of patriarchy. They’ll be rather disappointed to see Devasena as a literal representation of the Veerangana [the noble woman warrior, that our Indian culture deeply respects and yearns for] class of Indian woman, an embodiment of the noblest values of Indian, especially the Sanatan culture. Following are some hard reasons, why Devasena is the representation of the ideal Indian woman, a beautiful confluence of both Satitva [nobility] and Shakti [Power]:-
- Bold and Unapologetic –
‘Yatra naryastu poojante, Ramante Tatra Devata’
[Gods reside there where women are revered]
A quote which reminds us of the glorious ideals that we Indians / Bharatiyas once lived for, this is imbibed, in body and soul by Devasena, who is the ideal woman, worth worshipping.
An arresting quality of Devasena is that she is a Braveheart, bold yet unapologetic. She is not the abla naari that the world wants to see in an Indian woman, but a warrior, who wishes to improve her skills through diligent practice. When Amarendra Bahubali sees for the first time, he falls head over heels for her, but not for her beauty, but for her martial skills, which means that Devasena attracted Bahubali by her persona, not just by her looks. Her bravery is such that even when Kuntala Desa is attacked by a horde of savages sent by Mahishmati, she doesn’t buckle, but tackles the enemy head on.
- The Better Half of Bahubali –
As said in our shastras, a woman is the better half of a man; they’re incomplete without each other. So is Devasena with Bahubali, they’re a warrior couple made for each other. While it is Bhallaladeva, who wants Devasena at any cost, it is Amarendra Bahubali, who not only proves himself worthy of the warrior princess, but also wins her heart and loyalty. Devasena stands by Bahubali, solid as a rock. She represented the same traits that were in the warrior princess, Goddess Sita, when she accompanied Lord Rama to the forests during his fourteen-year exile. This representation of ‘Where you go, I go’, is not servitude, but unflinching loyalty, of being with the love when he / she needs you the most, something that is rare in today’s Indian society.
- Feminine yet Strong: –
Devasena is a true representation of the Indian veerangana : gentle by nature, and yet strong and intimidating when needed. A fully pregnant Devasena doesn’t flinch in teaching a lesson to a lecher. She doesn’t think of herself as a weak woman, but rather a strong, independent one, who would learn the best from anyone. The way she polishes her archery through the guidance of Bahubali is astounding, to say the least. For once, in this movie, courage is not shown as a birthright for the masculine side.
- A Fighter for Consent: –
In any relationship, consent is of prime importance, and it looks like Devasena knows a lot about it. Although she is loyal to her husband, yet she wants the same loyalty to come from his side. Unless there is consent in the relationship, the relationship is as good as nonexistent. Devasena proves by her own example, that in a relationship, the woman
- A Never Say Die Attitude:-
Like a true veerangana, Devasena sports a never say die attitude, even when she is brutally incarcerated into the open for two and a half decades by the lustful Bhallaladeva. She vows to become the cause of Bhallaladeva’s death. Even when Kattappa, remorseful of the treachery forced on him, offers to quietly release Devasena, she gratefully refuses, and chooses to wait for her son, Mahendra Bahubali to arrive and rescue her. Only a woman with nerves of steel has the guts to practice this tough penance.
To be frank, Devasena is the woman every Indian woman can emulate and imbibe her values from. She is unapologetic, yet gentle and loyal. She is beautiful, yet intelligent and intimidating. She can unleash the venom of uncontrolled fury, and yet be soothing as cool ice at the same time. She is the true representation of the Shakti, without whom even Shiva is a shav [corpse].