A/N: Spoilers abound for Baahubali: The Beginning. If you haven’t yet watched Baahubali: The Conclusion, what are you waiting for?
The characters don’t belong to me and I make no money off this, please don’t sue me.
I can’t believe I’m writing Tollywood fanfic! But then, I’m just gleeing that my dormant muses have finally decided to wake up and get me writing again! :)
Movie: Baahubali: The Beginning, Baahubali: The Conclusion
Timeline: Set during BB1, BB2 and after
Summary: A series of 4 related drabbles set during and after BB1 and BB2.
Elemental: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water
His heart is stone.
From the moment the fateful words cross the Queen mother’s lips, he stops feeling. He stops thinking. He cannot question orders.
He cannot disobey.
He can’t remember a beloved voice calling him uncle, he can’t think of the years spent fighting shoulder to shoulder (of days steeped in boundless trust and joyful camaraderie) he can’t think of the (orphan) child to come (who will never see their father, never) he cannot think of what this will mean for the kingdom and all her people.
There is only his duty, and his iron will.
And afterwards, for twenty-five years, Kattappa lives as a stone. Unthinking, unfeeling, alive only as a kind of penance—a final promise to the one he failed so irrevocably—while Kattappa lives, so does Devasena.
He thinks she is his prisoner.
She would laugh at his foolishness, if she could remember how to smile.
Bhalla thinks he has killed her husband—he doesn’t know Amarendra still lives on—in the people, in their stories and in their hearts (Baahubali expelled his dying breath into the very air of Mahishmathi, don’t even the hills still resound with his name?)
Now that he has the throne, Bhalla is lost. For so long, his anger had a face. But Amarendra is finally beyond his rage, and so he has set his eyes on Devasena, the one left behind.
But she is the wind—untamed, unbowed, free. Closing a fist over the wind imprisons nothing: and so Bhalla never understands.
She isn’t his prisoner. These chains don’t bind her, they can’t. She’s in the winds that whistle through the castle, a part of Mahishmathi but still separate (she can still hear it— “Baa-hu-bali, Baa-hu-bali!”—how the heavens shook with that roar on the day of Bhalla’s coronation) she’s in the breeze that blows over the land, caressing her lost son (will he never come for her?) and in the cool zephyr that flows high over her beloved Kunthala (equally lost, all gone, all forgotten except for her, still alive only for the promise of vengeance to come)
—and in that forgotten world between worlds, she lives—still battling side by side with her husband.
It ends as it began—in fire.
For so long he has hidden this flame in his heart (this burning desire to possess-destroy-break-claim) tending it carefully with remembered slights and old grievances (Amma always loved him more, more than her own flesh and blood!) until it sets his erstwhile rival alight (no last rites for the usurper of all that was rightfully his, let Baahubali burn with their enemies and pass out of all sight and memory) and he ascends the throne in a blaze of glory.
As the father of the king, Bijjaladeva is finally content. Soaked in wine and pleasure, his father grows torpid. Weak.
But now that he has the kingdom, Bhallaladeva finds himself strangely dissatisfied. The fire in his belly has died down to mere embers.
He imprisons Devasena in an effort to fan the flames, but even that raises no spark.
She rejected him, he should hate her. Bending her to his will should have been enough, but even as the former princess fights the men who push her into her cage (let the people that fool so loved see how low she is now brought, the mighty Baahubali’s wife!) he feels only a weary resignation.
Then she throws that name in his face, telling Bhallaladeva that he will never be half the king Baahubali was, even in death.
And that fire comes roaring back to life.
Then Ballaladeva knows—this is the only way for him to feel alive again.
Baahubali is gone, and even his people have forgotten him. The only ones left to think of him now are two people bound by hate.
(So let the fire burn.)
And in the end, when Devasena tips the glowing coals onto what has become his funeral pyre, Bhallaladeva can see the flames of hellfire burning in her eyes.
He has never seen anything more beautiful.
Water: Mahendra Baahubali
The woman’s eyes are wet.
Too weak to get up from the chariot floor, Devasena still reaches for him blindly, eyes streaming with tears that she doesn’t seem to notice. He wants to help, but he isn’t sure how (why do her tears disturb him so?)
Shivudu had climbed the waterfalls for a lark, thinking of nothing more than defeating the river that had laughed at all his efforts (now he is in deep waters, he can tell) and finally meeting the girl who haunted his dreams.
Seeing Avantika hurt by those soldiers had brought out a flood of emotion in him (but even in the midst of the raging torrent, one whispered word stood out— “Baahubali!”) and Shivudu swore—come hell or high water—he would bring Devasena home.
Now, as the rains pour down from the heavens and his foot rests on another’s head, Shivudu sees Devasena stand tall.
The jagged lightning above reflects in her eyes.
And he knows: a storm is coming.