Review: Anand Neelakantan's 'The Rise of Sivagami' is a must-read for 'Baahubali' fans

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 09, 2017 11:59 hrs

The Rise of Sivagami: Book 1 of Baahubali - Before The Beginning

Author: Anand Neelakantan

Price: Rs 164

Publisher: Westland

ISBN: 978-9386224446

Edition: Paperback

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With Baahubali : The Conclusion nearing release, our expectations and anticipation are reaching critical mass. To add to the excitement is Anand Neelakantan’s The Rise of Sivagami, Book I of the Trilogy titled Baahubali: Before the Beginning. While we expect Part 2 of the movie to reveal why Katappa killed Amarendra Baahubali (the question that’s been with us like a nervous tick ever since Part 1 released), the book attempts to reach beyond its screen time and flesh out the entire narrative and scope by honing in on its roots. And in doing so, it throws light on Rajamatha Sivagami. How did this fierce and principled lady wed the despicable Bijjaladeva? Why did she sacrifice herself to save the son of Amarendra Baahubali? These are some of the threads the trilogy is in pursuit of.

We’re taken way back in time to Sivagami’s childhood. Seemingly idyllic, it is soon shattered at the tender age of five when her father is branded a traitor. Twelve years later, she returns to the Kingdom responsible for her father’s demise, a Kingdom she wants to see destroyed. In her mission to exact revenge, Sivagami discovers a book in the ancient language of Paisachi. This book, she believes, could clear her father’s name. It is with the discovery of this book that her life takes a dramatic turn and augurs her re-entry into Mahishmathi.

Unbeknownst to her, there are other forces in collusion with her quest. A forest tribe is preparing to reclaim its holy mountain that is under the purview of Mahishmathi. An all-women group of warriors is out to stop the brutal slave trade that feeds the country’s coffers. Powerful members of the Government are neck-deep in a covert mission.

It is this channeling of so many parallel stories that work as speed-breakers in our race to finish the book. They come together cohesively but take away from our time with Sivagami, a character we invest in right from the get-go. One may be tempted to skip to and fro between chapters just to keep an eye on the leading lady. All thanks to the cliffhangers Neelakantan intersperses in his chapters. However, the pace that Neelakantan maintains through the book will help you forge ahead.

Just as we see Ramya Krishnan as the face of Sivagami, it’s hard to shake off the feeling that we may in fact, be reading a screenplay. This is amplified by the extensive dialogues between various characters and in-depth atmospheric details.

This book is about Katappa as much as it is about Sivagami. While not a key-player in the plot to bring down Mahishmathi, his roots, his servitude, his actions, all affect the course of the story in a palpable way.

Verdict: The Rise of Sivagami is essential reading for all fans of Baahubali. This prequel is bound to augment our understanding of the characters and the epic itself before we see the conclusion revealed on the big screen. What’s more, the world of Mahishmathi will continue to enthrall us with two more parts in the offing.

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