When Sivagami wanted to destroy Mahishmathi: The ‘Baahubali’ character gets a back story

A fantasy trilogy that is a spin-off from the ‘Baahubali’ movies imagines the emotional journey of Sivagami, played by Ramya Krishna on the screen.

A minor cottage industry has emerged around SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali films. The huge success of the 2015 fantasy epic and the anticipated blockbuster reception of the sequel, which will be released on April 28, have resulted in video games, merchandise, and a trilogy of novels that elaborates on the past lives of key characters. In The Rise of Sivagami, Anand Neelakantan creates back stories for two of the movies’ most loved characters, the slave warrior Kattappa (played by Sathyaraj), and the queen Sivagami (Ramya Krishna). In the novel, both start out as detractors of the Mahishmathi kingdom, whose interests they fiercely protect in the movies. Here are edited excerpts from the first chapter in the first book of the trilogy.

The night was dark, like death. It suited her. She did not want anyone to see them. A tiny lamp hung from the chariot, swaying wildly with each lurch that the cart made. She would have preferred to have it snuffed out, but the path was perilous. From either side, the jungle was reclaiming what originally belonged to it. Overhanging branches grazed her face as they sped through the winding hill path. She felt heavy with emotion. A thousand memories rushed from the dark recesses of her mind. They had broken free from where she had carefully buried them over the last twelve years and were howling in her ears. Like ghosts let free. She had never wanted to return to the place they were going to now. Not after what had happened to her family. Every tree that loomed in front of them reminded her of that gruesome scene she had been forced to witness at the tender age of five.

The path of vengeance

She would not have made this trip had not she met old Lachmi, who had been her maid, after twelve years. The faithful servant was on her deathbed when she visited her. Among other things, Lachmi had mentioned a book that her father owned. A book that her father had told the maid to hand over to his child. A manuscript written in some strange tongue, which could perhaps solve the mystery of what killed her father.

Her father, Devaraya, was a bhoomipathi, a noble lord in the kingdom of Mahishmathi. He was loved and respected until he was subjected to chitravadha — no, she did not want to think about that. Not now, not when she was crossing a bridge that swayed and creaked with each step.

‘Watch out,’ Raghava cried from behind. A yawning gap of seven feet lay in front of her. She handed the lamp to Raghava and took a few steps back.

‘You are crazy,’ she heard him say as she ran and gracefully leaped over the gap. She landed safely on the other side, though the bridge swayed wildly. She looked back and laughed, ‘Throw the lamp to me and jump, you coward.’

They got down from the bridge and walked to a huge wall that loomed in front of them. They stepped in front of an iron-spiked wooden gate that had a massive lock on it. It was sealed with lac.

‘The maharaja’s seal. We are not supposed to open this,’ Raghava said, weighing the lock in his hand.

She took a stone and started breaking the lock open.

‘What are you doing? Nanna will be held responsible. The fort is under his protection,’ Raghava cried. She ignored him and continued hammering at the lock.

Soon Raghava joined her and the lock gave way. They put their shoulders to the doors and, with a loud groan, it swung open.

Memories of murder

She picked up the lamp from the floor and stepped in. A wave of emotions ran through her and she pressed her lips together. Everything was strange, yet familiar.

The servant huts on either side had collapsed. The roof of the temple in which her father used to pray had toppled over. The wall around the courtyard well had crumbled. The mango tree where she used to have her swing had grown big and spread over the roof of her mansion. The two granite tigers that stood on either side of the steps to her veranda were still there. A broken toy horse lay half-buried in the courtyard. Memories, sweet and bitter. Old Lachmi, running behind her, begging her to drink her milk. The pony her father had gifted her on her fifth birthday. The day they had taken him away in chains.

She stopped at the front door of her home. No, it was not her home anymore. She did not have a home. She was an orphan. She bit her lips. This time, Raghava did not wait for her. He broke the lock of the mansion and they stepped in. As the lamp illuminated the dusty interior, she sucked in her breath. For a moment, she wished she was still that five-year-old girl. Her father would come out of his chamber any moment with that smile that made him look so handsome. He would pick her up and swirl her in the air. Shower her with kisses. She longed for his smell, his touch, his affectionate way of ruffling her hair. For the past twelve years, every moment of her life, she missed him. Uncle Thimma, Raghava’s father, who had adopted her, was kind and affectionate, but no one could take her father’s place.

The book with the secrets

Shutting her mind to the surging emotions, she stepped into her father’s chambers.

But for the cobwebs and dust, everything looked the same. On the day when they had come for him, she was playing in the courtyard with the children of the servants. Only old Lachmi was there in his chambers, serving him his food, when they came. She still remembered her father being dragged away in chains through the streets. She had run behind the fast-vanishing chariot, crying her heart out before Lachmi had swooped her into her arms and run back to the mansion. But they were barred from entering by the maharaja’s guards and her home had been sealed before her eyes. The servants were thrown out of their huts and the fort gate was shut. They had sat there until Uncle Thimma had come to take her to his home.

Old Lachmi had told her that her father was reading the strange book when they came for him. He had hurriedly handed it over to her and pointed out an opening in the floor where he had asked her to hide it. He wanted her to hand it to his daughter when she was old enough. A moment later, the soldiers had burst in.

She wished Lachmi were alive and with her to guide her to the place where the maid had hidden the book. It was only after sometime that she was able to locate the secret opening on the floor and, with the help of Raghava, she broke it open. Inside was a manuscript.

‘Paisachi,’ Raghava exclaimed. ‘That is the language of the first men of this country.’

‘You know how to read it?’ she asked.

Raghava was a scholar who spent most of his time reading. He shook his head, ‘Not many are alive who could read this dead language. I wonder why your father chose to write in this strange tongue.’

‘He did not write it. He got the book from someone,’ she said, recollecting what Lachmi had said to her.

Mahishmathi, beware Sivagami

She stood up, clutching the manuscript close to her heart. She looked around the chamber longingly. The image of her father stooped over his books flashed for a moment in her mind. She shook her head and, holding back her tears, walked out.

She paused at the dilapidated temple. She closed her eyes in prayer. A wave of anger swept through her. They had destroyed her family. They had killed her father. She had seen him die, inch by inch. Chitravadha, they called it. The poetic name did not mask the cruelty of the punishment. She still remembered how they had locked him in an iron cage and hung it from a banyan tree in front of the arena. They had hung a wooden board from the cage, and it read, TRAITOR.

Devaraya, once a powerful bhoomipathi, later declared traitor, died the most painful death possible. She had heard it took about three weeks for him to die, eaten alive by sparrows and crows while jeering crowds from Mahishmathi picnicked under the tree and watched him die.

How she hated the king and the evil kingdom of Mahishmathi. Clutching the manuscript close to her heart, she whispered, ‘Amma Gauri, I swear, I will destroy this evil kingdom of Mahishmathi.’

Excerpted with permission from The Rise of Sivagami: Book 1 of Baahubali – Before the Beginning, Anand Neelakantan, Westland.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

The ordeal of choosing the right data pack for your connectivity needs

"Your data has been activated." <10 seconds later> "You have crossed your data limit."

The internet is an amazing space where you can watch a donkey playing football while simultaneously looking up whether the mole on your elbow is a symptom of a terminal diseases. It’s as busy as it’s big with at least 2.96 billion pages in the indexed web and over 40,000 Google search queries processed every second. If you have access to this vast expanse of information through your mobile, then you’re probably on something known as a data plan.

However, data plans or data packs are a lot like prescription pills. You need to go through a barrage of perplexing words to understand what they really do. Not to mention the call from the telecom company rattling on at 400 words per minute about a life-changing data pack which is as undecipherable as reading a doctor’s handwriting on the prescription. On top of it all, most data packs expect you to solve complex algorithms on permutations to figure out which one is the right one.


Even the most sophisticated and evolved beings of the digital era would agree that choosing a data pack is a lot like getting stuck on a seesaw, struggling to find the right balance between getting the most out of your data and not paying for more than you need. Running out of data is frustrating, but losing the data that you paid for but couldn’t use during a busy month is outright infuriating. Shouldn’t your unused data be rolled over to the next month?

You peruse the advice available online on how to go about choosing the right data pack, most of which talks about understanding your own data usage. Armed with wisdom, you escape to your mind palace, Sherlock style, and review your access to Wifi zones, the size of the websites you regularly visit, the number of emails you send and receive, even the number of cat videos you watch. You somehow manage to figure out your daily usage which you multiply by 30 and there it is. All you need to do now is find the appropriate data pack.

Promptly ignoring the above calculations, you fall for unlimited data plans with an “all you can eat” buffet style data offering. You immediately text a code to the telecom company to activate this portal to unlimited video calls, selfies, instastories, snapchats – sky is the limit. You tell all your friends and colleagues about the genius new plan you have and how you’ve been watching funny sloth videos on YouTube all day, well, because you CAN!


Alas, after a day of reign, you realise that your phone has run out of data. Anyone who has suffered the terms and conditions of unlimited data packs knows the importance of reading the fine print before committing yourself to one. Some plans place limits on video quality to 480p on mobile phones, some limit the speed after reaching a mark mentioned in the fine print. Is it too much to ask for a plan that lets us binge on our favourite shows on Amazon Prime, unconditionally?

You find yourself stuck in an endless loop of estimating your data usage, figuring out how you crossed your data limit and arguing with customer care about your sky-high phone bill. Exasperated, you somehow muster up the strength to do it all over again and decide to browse for more data packs. Regrettably, the website wont load on your mobile because of expired data.


Getting the right data plan shouldn’t be this complicated a decision. Instead of getting confused by the numerous offers, focus on your usage and guide yourself out of the maze by having a clear idea of what you want. And if all you want is to enjoy unlimited calls with friends and uninterrupted Snapchat, then you know exactly what to look for in a plan.


The Airtel Postpaid at Rs. 499 comes closest to a plan that is up front with its offerings, making it easy to choose exactly what you need. One of the best-selling Airtel Postpaid plans, the Rs. 499 pack offers 40 GB 3G/4G data that you can carry forward to the next bill cycle if unused. The pack also offers a one year subscription to Amazon Prime on the Airtel TV app.

So, next time, don’t let your frustration get the better of you. Click here to find a plan that’s right for you.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Airtel and not by the Scroll editorial team.