Hyderabad: Movies based on books are fairly common phenomena, but occasionally a movie comes along that leaves the audience asking for more. The epic Baahubali was one such film. So when director Rajamouli approached author Anand Neelakantan to write a story on Sivagami, Anand jumped at the opportunity.
The book, The Rise of Sivagami which is set to be launched on Wednesday in Delhi came about purely by chance, Anand tells us. “Rajamouli sir had read my novel Asura and he really liked the concept and told me this on many occasions. One day, I got a call from him, but I thought someone was playing a prank on me. I finally believed it was him when he followed up with a mail,” recalls Anand, laughing. It was during their meeting that Rajamouli came up with the idea of writing a backstory of each character.
“The world which Rajamouli created is huge with many characters that can’t really be shown in the movie without extending screen time. So we decided to come with a prequel on Sivagami and introduce more characters,” shares Anand.
Since it’s a prequel, the book mainly revolves around Sivagami and Kattappa’s childhood. “The first book traces their teenage years and begins 30 to 40 years before the first movie. It is written like an epic, along the lines of Mahabharatha, with many characters; inter connections filled with intrigue and deceit. Readers will get to know how Sivagami becomes an orphan and her quest for revenge against the king of Mahishmathi. It’s going be an exciting book,” promises Anand.
Clever social media usage has also led to a lot of buzz after Rajamouli released a few chapters from the novel. “Rajamouli was very excited about the novel. He told me he began missing his shooting schedule because he couldn’t put down the chapters. Many times, he would be so curious about what happens next that he used to ask me to send the chapters quickly. I considered that to be a great compliment,” adds Anand who is also a cartoonist, though his work tends to be more political.
The Rise of Sivagami is part of a trilogy with the last book bringing readers up to speed on the developments in the first movie.
Having explored villains of mythological epics in Asura and Ajaya, writing Sivagami was not that different, according to the author. “Both novels were written from the point of view of Ravana and Duryodhana respectively. I have written positive characters in TV shows like Siya ke Ram, Ashoka and Hanuman before. As a writer, one has to do justice to the character, whether good or bad. However, I do feel sympathetic towards the villains as there is a purpose behind their evil.”
With mostly mythological novels under his belt, quiz him if there is any other genre he would like to explore? He quips, “Mythology is my first love. But I like to dabble in thrillers and romance. I keep experimenting and don’t like to stick to one genre. When I first started writing mythological novels, there were not many who wrote on the subject, now there are so many. I think it’s time to move out from this and do something like Bahubali,” says the engineer-turned-author.