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Thread: The Baahubali story is not over... yet!

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    The Baahubali story is not over... yet!



    If your phone rang and the voice on the other end identified itself as belonging to S S Rajamouli, the director of that lavishly mounted moneyspinner, Baahubali, you'd probably be forgiven for thinking it was a prank call.

    Even if you were one of India's popular authors.



    'Hahahahahahaha," laughs Anand Neelakantan.

    The author of the well-received Asura: The Tale Of The Vanquished, Ajaya: Roll Of The Dice, Ajay: Rise Of Kali and the recently released short story, Bhoomija Sita, thought it was a friend with a little too much time on his hands.

    "Yes, that did happen."

    But things got serious, soon.

    An affirmation of interest on e-mail from Rajamouli's office followed, along with a flight ticket to Hyderabad.

    What happened next was not something that Neelakantan did not expect.

    He was put to the test, a test that would be carefully graded by a "master storyteller".

    Stacked on Rajamouli's office table were pages and pages -- over 2,000 in all -- that contained detailed profiles of the main characters in Baahubali.

    There was enough material there for a book, or two or three, and Rajamouli -- who had enjoyed reading Neelakantan's Asura -- was looking for a prequel book series to his two-part mega movie, something he could spin off into an international television series.

    As Neelakantan dashed off 20 scenes in two hours -- "I am a very fast writer," he says -- his experience with television -- Siya Ke Ram, Chakravartin Ashok Samrat and Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman -- kicked in.

    The result of that phone call, and passing Rajamouli's test with flying colours -- The Rise Of Sivagami -- is now in bookstores.

    Didn't having his writing rated on a scale of one to 10 bother the author?

    "My work gets rated every day," he says. "I have got almost 10,000 reviews on (the Web site) goodreads. So why not get rated by a master storyteller?"

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    It was exciting to be invited into the privileged world of Baahubali.

    "It's a huge brand, both financially and in terms of popularity. More importantly, Rajamouli Sir has given six or seven years of his life to it; as have 2,000 to 3,000 other people who have worked on the movie."

    "They definitely had to take precautions to ensure they were not bringing in someone who would dilute the brand."

    There was the added incentive of knowing -- last year itself -- the answer to that burning question... Why did Katappa kill Baahubali?

    But he could not share that information with anyone, not even his wife.

    Now, all he had to do was choose his book's protagonist.

    Why Sivagami?

    The self-titled counter-teller of mythologies -- his previous books Asura and Ajaya look at India's twin epics from the point of view of the losers, Ravana and Duryodhana -- seemed to be taking a different track.

    "Why not? I haven't taken a vow or a promise that I will write from the villain's point of view only," he smiles.

    "If you look at the television series I have written... Ashoka was from Ashoka's point of view, Siya Ke Ram was from Siya's point of view and Hanuman was from Hanuman's point view."

    Besides, he points out, he was commissioned to write the book for the Bahubali franchise.

    "One of the first things Rajamouli Sir jokingly told me was, 'Don't make Bhallala Deva or Bhijjala Deva the protagonist. All my work should not go waste. Don't make them heroes," Neelakantan laughs.

    In fact, "Rajamouli Sir was very clear the tale had to be told from Sivagami's or Katappa's point of view."

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