Reel to book Authors

Untold story of Mahishmati

Ramya Krishna as Sivagami   | Photo Credit: arranged

When writer Anand Neelakantan got a call from filmmaker S.S. Rajamouli, he didn’t expect it to change the course of his writing.

Rajamouli had read Neelakantan’s book Asura, appreciated his work and asked if the author could come and meet him. That “casual meeting” led to Neelakantan working on the trilogy ‘S.S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali – Before The Beginning’, a prequel to Baahubali, tracing the early years of Sivagami and Kattappa.

The first book of the trilogy, titled The Rise of Sivagami (Westland publications), will be out this March and the book cover will be unveiled on January 20 at Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.

Their stories Satyaraj as Kattappa; Ramya Krishna as Sivagami; Anand Neelakantan

Their stories Satyaraj as Kattappa; Ramya Krishna as Sivagami; Anand Neelakantan   | Photo Credit: Mohammed Yousuf

The author says, “I had a casual chat with Rajamouli in Hyderabad, during which he asked me to write a few scenes. I wrote about 10 and he ranked each of them, marking some as 7/10, 10/10 and some others as 2/10, 3/10 and so forth,” laughs Neelakantan. Then, Rajamouli asked him if he could write a prequel to Baahubali and weave in the scenes rated 7 and above into the books.

Satyaraj as Kattappa

Satyaraj as Kattappa   | Photo Credit: arranged

The prequel trilogy builds on the backstories of Sivagami and Kattappa. “In The Rise of Sivagami, you will read about her as a 17-year-old. She is an orphan who faces many challenges and the story will trace her rise to power. In the third book, Baahubali and Bhallaladeva appear as children. The trilogy will also focus on Kattappa’s early years and how he grew in stature to earn Sivagami’s trust,” Neelakantan explains.

The untold story of Mahishmati kingdom and its politics will have many new characters. “There are good, bad and ugly characters that have made Sivagami the strong woman she is,” adds Neelakantan.

The writing process was unlike what Neelakantan had dabbled with before. “Years of research went into my books Asura, Ajaya and Kali; the narrations were based on Ramayana and Mahabharata, only the perceptions differed. In this case, I had to come up with a plot and write the first book within 90 days. I overshot the deadline and finished it in 108 days,” says the writer.

The second book is due in November.

The trilogy will be in English, and soon translated into other languages.

Anand Neelakantan’s writings

* Asura: Tale of the Vanquished narrated the story of Ravana and his people.

* Ajaya: Roll of The Dice looks at Mahabharata from the point of view of Kauravas.

* Rise of Kali, the author’s recent book, is Mahabharata told from Duryodhana’s perspective.

* Anand Neelakantan has also written for television series Siya Ke Ram, Chakravarthin Ashoka Samrat and Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 11:08:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/Untold-story-of-Mahishmati/article17049803.ece

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