A palanquin arrives followed by an entourage of attendants and handmaidens. Obviously, there must be a princess inside. Through the sheer fabric, we see a demure and docile figure of a young woman. Her eyes are lowered and a shy smile sits demurely on her mouth.
Her veiled face suddenly becomes grim: the chaos of bandits charging in disrupts the ethereal beauty. As they leap towards the palanquin, the fabric rips and in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, the princess disappears. Miserably, they struggle to grab the entity behind. The brutes chase after her, desperately grabbing their prize. Quick as a flash, a sword slashes through the curtain and slices the hands that tried to grab it. A pair of lustrous eyes is staring at us. We are as impressed and excited as the male lead observing the events from a distance.
Devasena—The powerful princess of Kuntala is revealed brandishing her sword, as four hefty bandits are flung through the air.
This has been one of the most female powerful character introductions for me.
Bahubali—The Conclusion is celebrated globally for its thrilling action sequences, exquisite visual effects, set design, and great storytelling. Most importantly, for its portrayal of its female characters. Devasena, Sivagami, and Avantika are the three prominent female leads in the Bahubali series. This trio of heroines is equally powerful, skilled in both warfare and political tact, unafraid to speak their minds, and refuse to be defined by a man!
Sivagami picks up the reins of a falling empire, restoring it to its former glory. It is the same woman who slashes the throat of a scheming traitor and proceeds to soothe her fussy baby, the very next moment. Devasena is a skilled warrior-princess who refuses to be bound by her gender, voices her opinions fearlessly, challenging the authority of even the queen mother of the kingdom of Mahishmati—Sivagami, while Avanthika trains shoulder-to-shoulder with her male peers as an assassin to free Devasena from the clutches of the antagonist, Bhallaladeva. The characters are crafted carefully, without a single hint of stereotypy. In fact, they are free-thinking women, miles ahead of their time. An hour into the movie, we observe a riveting exchange between Sivagami and Devasena. And surprisingly, it is not about a man! Both women argue over Kshatriya customs, rights as women, and essentially—choice and consent!
This movie definitely passes the Bechdel test— a test that measures the female representation in a work of art. The criteria ask for a conversation between two female leads that is not about a man. While this exchange left us desiring more screen space together for the female leads, it established a standard for strong female representation across the film industry in India. It indeed comes as a refreshing change in a movie that incessantly glorifies its male lead, the sparkle of its women is not paled at all!
Source: Youtube channel: Vitamin Stree