To introduce The Rise of Sivagami (£11.99, paperback 9789386224606) by Anand Neelakantan, we first have to look at the enormously popular Baahubali films, of which there are two so far and a third is much anticipated. Baahubali: The Beginning (BBTM), released in 2015, was the most expensive film produced in India up to that time – blowing a budget of nearly $30 million. Based on an original historical concept by director S Rajamouli’s father, the film launches off by introducing Sivagami, an enigmatic character who blurs the barrier between mythology and history. Not much is actually known about Sivagami. At the beginning of the film we see her being chased by soldiers while carrying a baby. Putting up a spirited defence, she manages to cross a river and leave the baby at the edge of the village before succumbing to the waves.
The child, named Sivudu, is rescued and brought up by the local villagers – the series of films being his story. Without wanting to give any more of the plot away, the boy grows to become a great warrior in the legendary kingdom of Mahishmati - a city state which may have been a historical place in central India. He is a macho, dashing fantasy action hero, ably portrayed on screen by ‘Prabhas’ - Venkata Satyanarayana.
BBTM traces the violent rise of the child within the war-torn Society of ancient India. Baahabali is the nom-de-guere adopted by the boy when he becomes an adult, literally meaning ‘He with the strong arms’. Baahabali 2: The Conclusion, released in April 2017, picks up the story and packs it full of even more action, plotting, romance and violence.
Taken together, the two films represent the highest netting films in the history of the Indian film industry. In addition to the films, an animated TV series was released in April 2017, featuring spin-off stories involving characters from the film.
The novel The Rise of Sivagami, released in March 2017, fills an important gap in the story – namely who the hero’s mother is and why she is important. The book is the prequel that not only sets the scene, but also brings to the pages an idiosyncratic and highly engaging heroine in her own right. Sivagami is intelligent and resolute but also vulnerable and sympathetic.
Shortly after the book was released, film director S Rajamouli confirmed that a miniseries adaptation of the novel was in production, so grab a copy of the book and watch this space!
Title - Rise Of Sivagami
Author - Anand Neelakantan
ISBN - 9789386224446
Price - £8.00
Who This Book Will Appeal To
The most obvious readership for the Rise of Sivagami – as well as the Battle of the Bold comic, £6.99 paperback 9789386224651, another franchise release – are fans of the two Baahubali films. The soon to be completed trilogy has acquired a cult fan base, many of whom will be interested in how the prequel novel expands on the mysterious character of Kattappa, as well as extrapolating many of the themes that appear in the films.
More widely, Rise will appeal to a wide swathe of fantasy and historical fiction fans. In fact, any reader who enjoyed the sweeping epic battles of Lord of the Rings, the dynastic treachery of Game of Thrones or the grim humour of The Last Kingdom will enjoy this book. Readers with an interest in Indian ancient history and legend will also enjoy the way this book brings the period to life in a creative way, without taking any major historical liberties.
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