A tale so grand, yet tragic! – Vanara: The legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara

For me, a good story is that, which keeps you in its grip till the very end, and the remnant of the story remains with me long after I have done reading. And the real author is that who knows how to tell a tale that becomes grander and grander in readers imagination. Author Anand Neelkanthan is one such author who knows how to create an exquisite art out of the simple tale.

Opening Lines: His mother was in the hands of a man who was not his father.

Page Count: 304 pages

Publisher: Penguin

Publication Date: November 14th, 2018

 

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Author Neelkanthan has penned some very popular booksAsura, The Rise of Sivagami, Ajaya 1: Roll of the Dice and, Ajaya 2: Rise of Kali, out of which I read only Asura. He also has scripted a few TV shows like Siya Ke Ram, Chakravartin Ashoka, and Sankatmochan Mahabali Hanuman.

I have grown up listening to Ramayana right from the day I started walking. I’d thought Baali to be a heartless and self-centered character. But Anand totally shattered the image I had in mind of Bali and Sugreeva of my childhood. 

‘Vanara’ is a mythological fiction. A tale of love, jealousy, respect, deception, and ambitions. This is also a story of the struggle of freedom of the Vanquished ones – Vana Naras or rather Vanaras to free themselves from the shackles slavery of  Devas as well as Asuras.  

Told from the perspective of three main protagonist- Bali, Sugreeva and Tara, whose fate is entwined to each other in more complex ways. The story is very intriguing and enthralling. 

The narration really bowled me over. I could feel the emotions of Bali, Sugreeva and Tara resonate deep inside of me. Especially I keeled over Tara’s emotions, they were so raw, so humane throughout. Her strength of character left a mark in my mind. In fact, every character in the book Vanara has many shades to them, and they play a very important role to shape the story, regardless big or small. The character like Neel, without whom the City of Kishkinda wouldn’t be there. Ruma, whose dreams of a happy life were quashed the moment she got married. 

The writing style of Anand is beautiful. He has blended the story well with old and new times. It has not only romance as the main ingredient, in fact, the book is a heady mix of the vast array of emotions. 

What I liked most is the book cover and a few illustrations inside the book, which really complimented the story. And climax blew me off!!!. Won’t elaborate, but the climax kind of was beautiful and sad in a very profound way.

Author has penned the book which is fast-paced and with multiple shades of high entertainment quotient and makes the book unputdownable. I highly recommend this book. Especially if you are a fan of Mythological fiction.

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

Vanara

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About the Author

Anand Neelakantan

Anand Neelakantan

Born: Cochin, India

Website: http://www.asura.co.in/

I was born in a quaint little village called Thripoonithura, on the outskirts of Cochin, Kerala. Located east of mainland Ernakulam, across Vembanad Lake, this village had the distinction of being the seat of the Cochin royal family. However, it was more famous for its hundred-odd temples; the various classical artists it produced and its music school. I remember many an evening listening to the faint rhythm of Chendas from the temples and the notes of the flute escaping over the rugged walls of the school of music. Gulf money and the rapidly expanding city of Cochin have, however, wiped away all remaining vestiges of that old world charm. The village has evolved into the usual, unremarkable, suburban hellhole, clones of which dot India. Growing up in a village with more temples than was necessary, it was no wonder that the Ramayana fascinated me. Ironically, I was drawn to the anti-hero of the epic – Ravana, and to his people, the Asuras. I wondered about their magical world. But my fascination remained dormant for many years, emerging only briefly to taunt and irritate my pious aunts during family gatherings. Life went on… I became an engineer; joined the Indian Oil Corporation; moved to Bangalore; married Aparna and welcomed my daughter Ananya, and my son, Abhinav. But the Asura emperor would not leave me alone. For six years he haunted my dreams, walked with me, and urged me to write his version of the story. He was not the only one who wanted his version of the story to be told. One by one, irrelevant and minor characters of the Ramayana kept coming up with their own versions. Bhadra, who was one of the many common Asuras who were inspired, led and betrayed by Ravana, also had a remarkable story to tell, different from that of his king. And both their stories are different from the Ramayana that has been told in a thousand different ways across Asia over the last three millennia. This is then Asurayana, the story of the Asuras, the story of the vanquished.

 


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