After Baahubali's cine hit, its prequel vanishing off shelves too

Book version

After Baahubali's cine hit, its prequel vanishing off shelves too

 It has been about two weeks since the launch of The Rise of Sivagami, a prequel to S S Rajamouli’s magnum opus Baahubali I and Baahubali II. And, it has emerged as the Number 1 book in Amazon’s Bestsellers myths, legends and sagas category. And at Crossword book stores too, the book has occupied the topmost position in the bestseller fiction category.

It was Rajamouli’s dream to bring out a book series on Baahubali, the landmark movie in Indian cinema. The Rise of Sivagami is part 1 of the trilogy in English being planned by the director. The book has hit the stalls across the country. Now, the book is getting translated into five more languages - Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil.

Westland, the publishers of the 469-page fiction, is planning to launch the Hindi, Telugu and Tamil versions by April-end, and the Kannada version later this year. In all, the trilogy would be published in 12 Indian languages over the coming months. The first print run was for 20,000 copies, and now 10,000 more copies are getting printed, according to Arunima Mazumdar, publicity manager, Westland. The e-version of the book is available too.

Popular fiction and TV screenplay writer Anand Neelakantan, the author of The Rise of Sivagami, was handpicked by Rajamouli to narrate many stories related to Mahishmati, the fictional kingdom inherited by two main characters of the movie — Baahubali and Ballaladeva. While the fiction with larger-than-life characters has come alive visually in the form of cinema, the book goes beyond that. The author had to create stories of Mahishmati 30 years before the first scene of the movie Baahubali I begins, according to Neelakantan.

Sivagami, the heroine

The movie mainly focuses on Baahubali, Ballaladeva and Kattappa. But the story in the book is narrated keeping Sivagami, a trained warrior of Mahishmati, as the focal point. And, Kattappa too occupies a prime place. Neelakantan says, “In cinema, the male characters and the war scenes are visually spectacular. But in a book, I cannot describe the war scenes at length as it would be boring to read. Hence, I chose Sivagami as the protagonist. Emotions and drama have been narrated creatively through this powerful woman character. The cinema story comes in Part III of the book.”

How much creative freedom did the author have while portraying the characters of Baahubali? “Rajamouli had suggested certain changes in the characterisation of Sivagami and Kattappa. Otherwise, I had total freedom. The book project is very dear to him. He said he took five days off from the shooting of Baahubali II to read all the 51 chapters. I took about 100 days to write the book last year. I am happy the book is appreciated by readers. The sale has been 10K in 10 days. While the response has been good in the South, it is slowly picking up in the North. There is a big world of readers,” he says.

Part II of the book is scheduled to be launched in October, while Part III, next March, according to Neelakantan. It was his portrayal of Ravana in his book Asura that impressed Rajamouli to choose the author to pen the Baahubali series.

Wings to imagination

Rajamouli, while launching the book in Delhi on Friday, expressed his desire to produce a TV series based on the trilogy. “Anand Neelakantan has given wings to my imagination. I am amazed at what he has created with the few inputs I shared with him,” Rajamouli said.

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