Frontlist | Anand Neelakantan on his latest release ‘Queen of Mahishmathi’

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Queen of Mahishmathi takes us through the journey of how Sivagami becomes queen of the Mahishmathi kingdom

Mahadeva was confused and angry. It broke his heart to put Sivagami in chains. He wished she would deny what she had done. When he had seen the fire in the Mahamakam grounds, he had rushed there to see what had happened.

Anand Neelakantan’s latest and last book in the Bahubali: Before the Beginning series, Queen of Mahishmathi, is an intriguing read and a fitting finale. The first book The Rise of Sivagami released in 2017, whereas Chaturanga and the final book released in 2020.

Queen of Mahishmathi takes us through the journey of how Sivagami becomes queen of the Mahishmathi kingdom. Just as the books are set to be adapted into a TV series on the streaming giant Netflix, we sit down and chat with the author about his journey of penning this hit series.

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Tell us about your latest book and the experience of penning this legendary series.
This book ends where the Baahubali movie begins. It changes the life of Sivagami and Katappa, from teenage years to what you see in the movie. Penning the series was a tough task, but the response has been fascinating. Baahubali was already a well-established series before I began writing these books, so it was definitely a challenge. This is one of the rare occasions where a book was adapted from a movie instead of the other way round.

What kind of research went into writing the books?
I had the basic story bible. As the time period was not mentioned, I took it as 8th-9th century India based on certain references in the movie. I then developed the way the characters speak, dress, and politics. I am a history buff, so I constantly keep reading and researching the subject. I have knowledge of medieval and parallel kingdoms; I added an element of fantasy to mask it.

What draws you to the genre of mythology?
Mythology was a part of my growing up. I grew up in a traditional home where these stories were important. I find a lot of parallels in the present world too. It’s all happening around us – we just have to keep a keen eye to see who Shakuni is and who Duryodhana is! The characters are all around us.

Can you share your growing years and how writing happened to you?
I would read a lot, even as a teen. Amar Chitra Katha was my favourite as a kid! I read a lot in my mother tongue Malayalam. I was a storyteller and my teachers in school would ask me to tell stories to the kids in class. But, I lost touch and started living a typical middle-class life – got a job and got married. By the age of 30, I already had a mid-life crisis and wondered what I was doing in life! (laughs). I then began writing political satires and parody songs in Malayalam and publishing my work under my pen name. I acquired English skills quite later in life. That’s when I decided to explore the genre of mythology instead of regular college love stories. I happened to be one of the pioneers telling mythological stories to the younger generation in my first book Asura: Tale of the Vanquished in 2012.

What are your upcoming books?
Another children’s book is coming up after my first The Very, Extremely, Most Naughty Asura Tales for Kids! My next is an animated story of an elephant that flies. I have an audiobook for audible on the Ramayana. I have a huge film coming up in Hindi too.

What are your hobbies?
I paint, I draw and I keep walking like a madman. I write mostly in my mind. So far I’ve been typing, but recently I wrote a book using a pen. I rediscovered my love for pens.

What is your advice to young writers?
Read a lot, but, most importantly, read wide and across genres. Don’t get tied up to just reading, watch a lot of films and TV shows too. If you don’t get a publisher, don’t give up.

 

Source: Telangana Today

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