Writing a book based on the characters/plots and settings of a movie series is not as common as a movie based on a novel. It’s a different kind of challenge and that’s why I like the idea of the writer and the Franchise owners to create a prequel series of the Movie. Baahubali is a worldwide phenomenon now so obviously, they had to create something on quite a large scale (somewhat similar to the movies) with major involvement of few of the on-screen famous characters to cash in their popularity but at the same time, it had to be interesting and unique. Well! they succeeded at almost every front except the one which was most important – “Uniqueness”. Right from the characters to plots or even the writing style, everything is very much inspired by A Song of Ice and Fire. Just to give you an idea
Shivagami, a fierce young girl. Her father was a good man but branded as a traitor and executed by the king so she swears to destroy the royal family. She acted as a lone wolf and tried to overcome all the odds by herself. There were times when she was trying to hide her fear and was thinking about the lessons from his uncle/mentor to keep her calm, I can almost read the famous line “Fear cuts deeper than swords” in those parts. Ring any bells? Yeah! She is the Arya Stark of Mahishmathi.
skandadasa, probably the only decent man in King’s court He became Mahapradhana (as good as King’s Hand) in the later part of the book. He is a kindhearted and just person devoted to his country and strictly against the corrupt men and wrong and biased practices and traditions. This is the reason few other politically influential people dislike him. He is clearly the Eddard Stark of this story with some small revisions.
Hidumba, a politically powerful dwarf A loudmouth but a man with important connections, always involved in the major events and conspiracies of Mahishmathi. He is so similar to Tyrion Lannister that I always read his dialogue in Peter Dinklage’s voice in my head.
Vaithalikas A community claims to be the actual owner of Gauriparvat and Mahishmathi, they are ferocious fighters and have an uncrowned king of their own. They are the Targaryens (but without dragons) of this series.
Brihannala, a Eunuch(???) She is conspiring something big in league with Vaithalikas. Baahubali’s version of Varys
Pattaraya A great strategist, his ultimate aim is to overthrow the kingdom but he sets a smaller goal to avoid suspicion; and though he doesn’t have the ultimate controls on brothels he used them for his plans in similar ways as Petyr Baelish did in a SoIaF.
Similarly, the kingdom has 2 princes, Elder one Bijjaladev is very cruel and spoiled same as Joffrey while the younger one Mahadeva isn’t a great warrior, kindhearted but gullible at the same time. He certainly reminds you of Tommen.
Gundu Ramu A fat coward boy but a loyal friend of one of the main characters. He couldn’t be more like Samwell.
Achi Nagamma The one who’s independent of any banner and fighting for poor, helpless and needy villagers. She is leading the all-women vigilante army and more like a female version of Beric Dondarrion
Apart from the above-mentioned characters and plot similarities, the writing style is also similar to aSoIaF and though it is interesting to have chapters from different characters’ point-of-view it is not as effective as it was in aSoIaF series. The main reason is sheer plot vastness of aSoIaF, “George RR Martin” has a much bigger universe than “Anand Neelakantan” so his each character’s story POV take you to almost entirely different part of the seven kingdoms while in this novel even with so many different characters almost the entire story is set in Mahismathi itself. GRRM never mixed 2 POVs in a single chapter but that had happened quite a few times here. Also almost half of the chapters (barring the climax and few others in between) don’t have that many pages so as soon as the momentum is building up the chapter ends. Plus there’s a lot of sexual content but it’s not as justified as it was in GRRM’s creation.
But all these things doesn’t mean that this book is not interesting. For me, it is something like Eragon Series “inspired from few great hits but still worth reading”. As I said, with the Baahubali book series they had the luxury of few well known and wildly loved/hated characters in the form of Shivagami, Kattappa & Bijjaladev and they have utilized them beautifully. Also after initial similarities/inspirations, the book takes its own story forward, which is fast paced and full of turns and twists. I especially loved the last few chapters related with Mahamakam and the final twists in the last page leave you awestruck. I have read in the acknowledgments that Anand finished this book in 109 days which is quite unbelievable because it never gives you the feeling of a book finished in hurry, even if you consider the inspirations from other books.
Overall it’s a good effort and now after initial built-up, I expect better and more original content from next 2 books of the series. Looking forward to it.
About The Author:
Anand Neelakantan is the bestselling author of Asura: Tale of the Vanquished and the Ajaya series. He has written the screenplays for various popular TV series, including Star TV’s mega series Siya Ke Ram, Sony TV’s Mahabali Hanuman and Colours TV’s Chakravarthi Samrat Ashoka. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Aparna, daughter Ananya, son Abhinav and pet dog Jackie the Blackie.
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