In line with the Indian online media Scroll's request for voluntarily collecting the opinions from the Japanese Baahubali fans (Mahishmatians) over Twitter, there have been growing voices from Japan of conveying their direct messages to India.
But first, you may read here the article written by the journalist Devarshi Ghosh, which is the refined, polished and sophisticated result of them and officially published on Scroll.
When Katappa-san killed Baahubali-san: SS Rajamouli’s films are the latest fan favorite in Japan - Scroll
Today, I want to introduce you Tenjikukitan-san, or Shion Yoshizaki-san's answers to the questions in the course of Scroll's interview. Who is Tenjikukitan-san? You may see her astonishing illustrations created for the purpose of sharing her in-depth knowledge about ancient Indian history, Hindu mythologies, and religions for curious Japanese Mahishmatians who want to know more about India.
Shion Yoshizaki (Twitter handle @tenjikukitan) is a Japanese novelist and Hindu mythology expert. She shares her knowledge of Hindu Gods and religion with Japanese Baahubali fans on Twitter by drawing a lot of beautiful and detail illustrations.
Q. Did you become a Baahubali fan after the release of the first film or the second film?
I fell in love with Baahubali after seeing "1," but then the drama told in "2" further captivated my heart. Then I went into the infinite loop of going back to "1," which started making me cry, and returned to the theatre to see "2." I am now looking forward to receiving the DVD of "2" to be released in Japan on 20th February (today.)
Q. Please talk about how you get fascinated by the world of Baahubali? Also, is this your first serious engagement with Indian cinema?
What makes Baahubali stands out of any other is the story, which is based on the mythology. The mythological story structure and the fundamental setting of father-to-son inheritance, often adopted in Hollywood movies also, can be accepted in all over the world. While the storyline is somewhat classical, it depicts the concepts accepted by the modern people, like respecting each other regardless of the genders, countering the sexual harassment, tactically handling the class (caste) system, through a charismatic, God-like hero Amarendra Baahubali. All of these give a catharsis effect and convincing story to audiences.
The answer to your next question is that, while I saw a handful of Indian movies but not too many. My first encounter with the Indian film was "Muthu," which brought me a shock. We do not have much opportunity to see Indian movies here, and I do hope that it will change, i.e., many Indian films will be released in Japan.
My favorite Indian movies are "Om Shanti Om," "Bang Bang!," "Padmaavat," and "Charlie."
*For your additional information, I wrote the historical background of Padmaavat for the following media "Masala Press" before its release in Japan.
Q. What do you find so interesting about Baahubali? Most importantly, Baahubali has pushed you to investigate about ancient Hindu customs and culture. Please talk about your interest in this matter.
I was captivated by the beautiful and perfect world of Baahubali. One does not need the knowledge of Hinduism to enjoy this movie. Baahubali overwhelms the audience with its profundity of stories and the sophisticated designs and impresses people beyond their nationalities and religions. What I saw the most impressive was their artworks. The architectures of Mahishmati Kingdom are based on the Indian mythologies and classic Indian architectural designs, yet they are innovative enough to convince the people in the world.
On the other hand, one can enjoy Baahubali more by knowing the context of Indian people. For example, the pyramid-shaped throne established in the center of Mahishmati Kingdom has wheels and horses beneath, which reminiscents Surya Temple in Konark, Odisha, the UNESCO World Heritage site. If you had Hindu knowledge, then you would know that the Mahishmati Kingdom is protected by Surya (the sun,) while the Kingdom also has a Shiva temple. Meanwhile, Kuntala Kingdom follows the faith to Lord Krishna.
After being struck by the world of Baahubali, I have come to think of that it is my task to share my knowledge with as many Japanese people as possible. Why? Because I feel our King Amarendra Baahubali is ordering me to do so (chuckle.)
Q. What has the response from your followers been to your tweets and threads on Baahubali/Hindu mythology? Also, please talk about how organized and close the Baahubali fandom is, and your place in it.
(She opened a Twitter Moment page to explain Baahubali world better. See the link, and also the embedded Moment at the last of this article.)
That thread (Twitter Moment) continues being RTed and Liked by many people by now, and I keep receiving the words of appreciation from the number of Japanese Baahubali fans (we call it "subjects of Mahishmati.)
Japanese fans of Amarendra, Devasena, or Bhallaladeva go on visiting the theatre dozens of times. However, the more they see Baahubali, the more questions come in their head. For example, "why Shivudu (Mahendra) lifts that mass of stone and sets it below the waterfall?", "why Kattappa touches his head to Mahendra's foot?", "What is that white powder Mahendra rubs on his chest?", "What is that yellow powder poured on the elephant?", and so on. Since the Japanese people are familiar with Buddhism (as many are Buddhists), they are not aware of Indian culture and thus fail to understand the meaning of each character's actions.
I have studied Hindu iconography at the graduate school, and now a novelist. Among my novels published so far, there is a historical romance novel imagined out of Magadha Country of ancient India. My friends knew that I studied the ancient Indian culture to write this piece, so they asked me, out of their love to Baahubali (some went to the theatre for 16 or more times!) myriad of questions. I drew those illustrations (on Moment) to answer them, to explain the Hindu elements in Baahubali, but I never expected that the Moment would gather such significant attention as it gets now.
I am no longer a researcher now, but a Japanese woman who loves Indian culture. I just want people, who have come to be interested in Indian culture after seeing Baahubali, know the culture of incredible India that had influenced Japan in many ways and forms over the history. Therefore, it is my pleasure to answer their questions.
I have a gut feeling that Japanese fans of Baahubali, or subjects of Mahishmati, could change the world out of their burning passions. It would be wonderful if I, also a subject of Mahishmati, could help them.
Later, Yoshizaki-san added supplementary analysis as for the following.
My opinion is that buildings in the Mahishmati Kingdom clearly indicate the influence of India, but do not represent the particular time, era, or region. On the other hand, in general, religious buildings in India are highly influenced by the surrounding local culture. I feel the architectures in Baahubali are intentionally flattened such expressions of prominent differences.
Also, according to my observations, Shiva Temple appears at the beginning of "2" tops Gopuram, which is the South Indian style, while the throne the Shiva Temple placed in the center of the Mahishmati Kingdom takes the features from various regions from across India, such as Surya Temple in Konark, the temples in Khajuraho, and so on.
Finally, I focused my attention on the art expressed in the form of the architectures in the Mahishmati Kingdom. They have based on the architectural designs originated from Indian mythology and classic patterns, yet give the brand-new values to speak. As a result, Baahubali overwhelms the audiences with its profound stories and sophisticated forms, captures peoples' hearts beyond the borders and religions.