When Baahubali released last year, it was the only thing on everybody’s minds. From the largesse that came with CGI and the explosive acting of the impressive cast, S.S. Rajamouli left no stone unturned. At the end of the movie, the one question on everyone’s mind and tongue were: “Why did Kattappa kill Bahubali?” Following the obvious and huge success of the film, Rajamouli drafted well-known author Anand Neelakantan to tell the stories of other characters in the film. From Sivagami to Kattappa, Neelakantan has captured the stories of their youth in wonderful detail in the prequel to the Bahubali stories. With each chapter of The Rise of Sivagami telling the story of a different character, he has categorized every life story admirably.
The Satisfaction of Reading “The Rise of Sivagami”:
Equal parts excitement bubbled within me to read The Rise of Sivagami, as a reader, moviegoer, and writer. The book satisfied every one of those elements within me to an extent that I can read it all over again.
- The reader in me was satisfied because Anand Neelakantan’s storytelling is epic. It works on a grand scale, bettering his earlier works in a number of ways, including storyline and narrative.
- The moviegoer in me was satisfied because it’s easy to imagine Sivagami and Kattappa’s universe on Bahubali’s cinematic level. The roads, palaces, forests, homes, and offices of Mahishmati became so much clearer.
- As a writer, I always look for inspiration in every book that I read. So when I picked up The Rise of Sivagami to read and review, I expected to glean at least a few tips off it. And it did not disappoint me. The clear, easy writing, using simple words, and the almost colloquial dialogue made me fall in love with this book.
As I mentioned before, the book has multiple points of view coming from multiple characters. While Sivagami and Kattappa are the most notable, given their affiliation with Bahubali, others like Maharaja Somadeva, Prince Bijjala, Prince Mahadeva, Mahapradhana Parameswara, Bhoomipathi Pattaraya, and Khanipathi Hidumba are well-crafted, be they positive characters, or negative.
The Rise of Sivagami is the first in the Bahubali: Before the Beginning trilogy. The trilogy aims to tell the story of Sivagami’s rise to the position of Rajmaata (Queen Mother). As a 17-year-old, Sivagami is full of rage against the king who ordered the execution of her father, Bhoomipathi Devaraya, more than a decade ago. Devaraya, wrongfully branded a traitor, was on the path to reveal some deep, dark secrets of the Mahishmathi Empire. Because of this unfair treatment of her father, Sivagami’s chest bubbles in rage. She craves to slay Maharaja Somadeva and clears her father’s name.
What follows is her story of how she gets embroiled in a number of situations that bring her to a crossroads. Which path will she take? Will she get her revenge? Will she be able to fulfil her destiny? Though not all questions receive answers, since this is the first book, it does offer a lot of explanations for the characters’ behaviors and the plot. Throughout The Rise of Sivagami, you cannot help but fall in love with Sivagami, rooting for her every step of the way.
Kattappa, the fiercely loyal slave, has a story, too. Before Bhallaladeva, 21-year-old Kattappa was a slave to Bhallala’s father, Bijjala. As tradition dictates in the book, Kattappa must serve his master despite any ill treatment he might receive. Believing in this cruel tradition, Kattappa goes through hell to do Bijjala’s bidding then, as he does for Bhallaladeva now.
As you read The Rise of Sivagami, you feel sorry for this man. Bound by duty, he is ready to do anything for his master. But you also feel angry, because of the tradition he thinks is okay to follow. Since Kattappa’s character is so white, the few wisps of grey that waft across it are a treat to read. And this is a tribute to how well Anand Neelakantan has adapted Rajamouli’s screenplay into a novel.
Review – The Conclusion:
With the larger-than-life characters of Bahubali getting their own stories in the book, Neelakantan completes the Mahishmati universe in a grandiose manner. Imagining these lives based on the sentences in the book seems an easy task, thanks to Neelakantan’s writing. And given the timing of the book, just weeks before the release of Bahubali: The Conclusion, there is nothing more a moviegoer would want than an insight into that world. And what an insight it is!
All in all, The Rise of Sivagami is a delightful read, crafted by master mythology-reteller Anand Neelakantan!
Author(s): Anand Neelakantan
Release: March 2017
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