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Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara Paperback – 19 Nov 2018
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About the Author
Anand Neelakantan is the author of the Baahubali trilogy, the prequel to S.S. Rajamouli's movie. The first book in the series, The Rise of Sivagami, was released on 15 March 2017 and continues to be the no. 1 bestseller across charts. The book was on Amazon's list of top five bestsellers for 2017.
Neelakantan is also the author of Asura: Tale of the Vanquished, which told the Ramayana from Ravan's point of view. He followed it up with the tremendously successful Ajaya series. Neelakantan's books have been translated into more than nine languages, including Indonesian.
In fact, S.S. Rajamouli has announced a mini-series based on Neelakantan's books, on the lines of Game of Thrones.
Neelakantan has also written scripts/screenplays for popular TV series like Siya Ke Ram, Ashoka, Mahabali Hanuman, etc. He writes columns for The Hindu, Indian Express, Pioneer, Washington Post, etc. He also writes a fortnightly column called Acute Angle for Sunday Express. He has upcoming series planned with Discovery, Star TV, Netflix and Amazon.
Neelakantan is also a prolific writer in Malayalam and regularly publishes stories in the prestigious Malayalam magazine. He is also a cartoonist. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Aparna, daughter Ananya, son Abhinav and pet dog, Jackie the Blackie.
You can look him up on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the handle: @itsanandneel.
From the Publisher
Scene from the Book
The sky was overcast and heavy, pregnant with rain. The humidity was unbearable. Not even a leaf stirred. Dark clouds swirled above her head. When she reached there, Baali had thrown Sugreeva on the ground. Baali placed his right leg on Sugreeva’s chest and roared. Chemba was growling at a tree that lay about twenty feet away. The wolf’s ears were alert, eyes squinted in concentration and tail straight. Tara looked to see whether someone was hiding behind the tree like previous day. No one was there. Tara sighed in relief. Baali roared in victory. He was alive. She could not control her tears. All her fears were unfounded. She felt guilty that she had suspected Rama to be someone who was capable of shooting in sly. She said a word of prayer.
At that moment, an arrow whooshed through the air. She turned in surprise to see a dark young man ducking behind the tree.
She watched in horror as the arrow pierced Baali’s chest. She screamed, but no sound came out. She ran to her husband. Chemba reached first. Baali fell like a huge tree struck by lightning. She went near him, beating her head, crying, but she had lost her voice. Baali saw her with pity-filled eyes. She collapsed near him and took his head on her lap. Chemba whined piteously.
It kept its head on Baali’s heaving chest and stared at his face with all the sorrow in the world.
‘As usual, you were right, Tara.’ Baali gave a sad smile and blood bubbled out through his mouth. ‘Don’t go, Baali, don’t go,’ she wanted to say, but no soundcame out. She was feeling cold. She shivered. He was dying in her arms.
Sugreeva had got up and he watched his brother dying. He collapsed on his knees and buried his head in his palms. Rama and his brother came near them. Baali saw the man who had hidden behind a tree to shoot him dead. Chemba stood up and bared his teeth. Baali patted the wolf to calm it down. It placed its head on his chest. Baali folded his hands to greet the uninvited guests. There was a derisive smile on Baali’s lips.
Tara saw the dark man shifting his eyes, nervous, uneasy. Beside him stood a man with an angry scowl.
‘You’re unique, Rama,’ Baali said.
Rama stood watching Baali die. Lakshmana’s lips curved into a derisive smile.
‘May I know why you shot me slyly instead of facing me like a man, Lord Rama?’ Baali asked. His voice was getting weak.
‘You had done injustice to your brother.’
‘You could’ve faced me like a man,’ Baali said.
‘You stole his wife,’ Rama declared.
‘You could’ve faced me like a man,’ Baali laughed.
‘You’re evil and my dharma is to eliminate evil,’ Rama said.
‘You could’ve fought evil like a man.’ Baali laughed and vomited blood. Ignoring it, he laughed again.
‘I’m a Kshatriya and my duty is to vanquish evil,’ Rama said.
‘You could’ve faced me like a man,’ Baali said again.
‘It’s the Dharma of a Kshatriya to hunt animals. You’re not human.
You’re a Vanara. I can hunt you and kill. It’s Kshatriya dharma.’
‘Ah, we’re animals. Vanaras. Now I understand, my lord. Our lives don’t matter. We’re mere animals. Yes, my lord, we belong to the forest. We aren’t familiar with the noble ways of civilized men. In the jungle, the tiger hunts its prey by stalking, like how you did, Rama. But the tiger does it because it’s hungry. What are you hungry for, Rama?’ Baali scoffed. Rama stood without a reply.
Celebrity Speaks About Vanara
‘Anand is one of those people who has adopted the neutral storytelling style, leaving the perception to the readers. He creates the characters and lets the audience discover them. While he excels in displaying inflated heroism always, it is interesting to witness how he has put Hanuman and Baali in his book, Vanara.’—S. S. Rajamouli, film-maker
‘Like always, a very engrossing perspective on our mythology. Anand Neelakantan’s writing makes you question everything you were taught. He researches his characters and goes to a great extent to bring detail into the narrative. For me Anand now, is what Amar Chitra Katha was as a child.’—Nagarjuna Akkineni, actor
‘The grey shades are as real as they can get. You cannot put down Vanara. Anand Neelakantan makes you feel it’s all happening now and here.’ —Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra, film-maker
Vanara is a politically relevant tale and should be boldly applauded. With a captivating narrative, Anand Neelakantan brings back his suave style of storytelling. A must read!’’—Ram, director
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However, I was extremely disappointed by the quality of the language. The book has been badly proofread. There are many grammatical errors. And errors in vocabulary too. A couple of examples: page 71, line 10: "People had begun 'disbursing." Instead of "dispersing". Page 181, para 3, line 5: "...that my head will 'blow' into pieces..." instead of "burst". There are many many more such blunders throughout the entire book. Altogether, this made reading the book a painful experience. I'd bought it only because of the name of the author and also because I'd read his other two books. Never again.
I highly recommend this book and should you chose to give it a miss you are missing out on something truly wonderful.
Most of you are familiar with the Ramayana and Mahabharata but reading the same from different perspectives is so satisfying. You decide for yourself which side you want to take. The civilised Kshatriyas or the vanquished? Vanara's imaginary plot fits so well into the current social system we live in. Discrimination in the name of caste and gender in the Vanara community would want you to travel into their fictitious world and put in some sense into those idiots propagating inequality.
I love how Tara (the central character) is portrayed in the book . She is the most significant person in the whole narrative yet ridiculed by the society she lived in despite the contributions she had in building the egalitarian city of Kishkinda. However the fate of the city changes along with the fate of the central characters of the book.
Go get your copy soon.
Thank me later ♥️
Although the story from the Ramayana is ancient, this telling of the story gives you a lot of food for thought and interesting ideas. Finished the book hours after receiving it!
The love triangle of Tara, Bali and Sugreeva is beautifully depicted with various flaws and falters of our highly civilised society. This book is definitely a must read!
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