New Delhi, March 2022: Penguin Random House India proudly announces the acquisition and publication of best-selling author, seasoned columnist, and celebrated screenwriter, Anand Neelakantan’s upcoming mythological book, Nala Damayanti: An Eternal Tale From Mahabharata. Scheduled to hit the shelves on 24 April 2023 under the Ebury Press imprint, the book is currently available for preorder on all major e-commerce websites.
This highly anticipated novel book tells an epic tale of love from the Mahabharat, with an unlikely narrator—Hemanga, the golden swan of Manasarovar. In his inimitable style, Neelakantan brings forth the plight of the underdog, the human race, and speaks of the only remedy that can save it, love. Using the Epic Mahabharat as the stage, this mythological fiction talks of the resilience and resolve of an unlikely hero, Hemanaga.
Having grown up watching and hearing renditions of classic tales in Sanskrit and Malayalam, Neelakantan wishes to take these stories to the modern audience through a contemporary retelling of a timeless classic. Poetic and lyrical yet easy to read, Nala Damayanti: An Eternal Tale from Mahabharata is a colorful, highly entertaining and a vivid treat for colourful Indian mythology readers and anyone who enjoys indulging in a captivating love story.
Neelakantan is an accomplished author with several books to his name, including the popular Asura: Tale of the Vanquished (2012), Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara (2018), Valmki’s Women (2021), and two books based on the Mahabharata, Ajaya: Roll of the Dice (2013) and Ajaya: Rise of Kali (2015). Neelakantan’s Bahubali: Before the Beginning is a three-book prequel series to the popular Baahubali films. The first book, The Rise of Sivagami, was released in 2017 and became a blockbuster hit, shortlisted for the Crossword Popular Award in 2018. The series also inspired a Netflix web series adaptation, with the second book, Chaturanga, released in 2020, and the final installment, Queen of Mahishmathi, released later that year.
He has been praised for his unique take on Indian mythology and history. In addition to his excellent books, Neelakantan is also a master at weaving captivating stories that have enthralled audiences across multiple media platforms. His screenplays have graced the screens of popular television channels such as Star TV, SONY TV, Colors TV, Netflix, and DD National, with hits like Siya Ke Ram, Mahabali Hanuman, Chakravarthy Ashoka, Sarfarosh, and Swaraj.
Penguin’s children’s division will also be publishing Neelakantan’s Tale of the Naughty Flying Mountain on 27 March 2023 under the Puffin imprint. It is part of the Puffin Chapter Book series, which also includes works by Sudha Murty and Ruskin Bond. This new book follows Himavan, the lord of the mountains, who lost his wings due to the mischief of Narada, causing chaos. Vibrantly illustrated and filled with humor, it is an ideal introduction for beginners to humourorld of mythology.
Talking about the publication of Nala Damayanti: An Eternal Tale from the Mahabharata, Anand Neelakantan says, “With Nala Damayanti, I’m proud to offer readers a delightful take on an ancient narrative. Combining humour and optimism, this romantic comedy will captivate readers of all ages! It’s a unique twist on the classic Mahabharata story and features Damayanti as the protagonist who conquers adversity and is reunited with her beloved Nala – irrespective of what Kali, the god of misfortune, has in store for them. Unlike my earlier books, such as Asura, Ajaya or Vanara, which have been written in a more serious tone, this book radiates joy and laughter- one that serves as a reminder about the strength of love and perseverance.”
Milee Ashwarya, Publisher, Penguin Random House India, says, “Anand Neelakantan is back with a stunning new novel on the epic characters of Nala and Damayanti from Mahabharata. This fresh take on a timeless tale will keep you engaged and engrossed till the last page. I am proud to publish the book and hope readers across the world enjoy reading the book.”
About the author
Anand Neelakantan is the author of the Bahubali trilogy, the official prequel to S.S. Rajamouli’s movie. The first book in the series, The Rise of Sivagami, was released in 2017, was a bestseller across all charts for two years and was on Amazon’s list of top five bestsellers for 2017. The second book, Chaturanga, and the final book in the trilogy, Queen of Mahishmati, were subsequently published with outstanding success. Netflix has announced a series based on the Bahubali trilogy.
Anand debuted as an author in 2012 with his iconic book Asura: Tale of the Vanquished, which told the tale of Ramayana from the perspective of Ravana. The book has been translated into sixteen languages and is on Amazon’s ‘100 Books to Be Read in a Lifetime list.
Anand also wrote the popular children’s book The Very, Extremely, Most Naughty Asura Tales for Kids, published by Puffin. There is an upcoming animated series based on this book. He has also published a short-story collection titled Valmiki’s Women.
Anand is a prolific screenplay writer and has written hugely popular series like Siya Ke Ram, Chakravarthi Samrat Ashoka, Mahabali Hanuman, Sarfrosh, Adaalat, Taj and Swaraj, among others.
For the past six years, Anand has been writing a regular fortnightly column, named Acute Angle, for the New Indian Express. Anand also writes in Malayalam and has authored a short-story collection, travelogues, articles and film reviews for leading Malayalam dailies. Anand dabbles in cartooning, painting, public speaking, life coaching, acting and modelling. He lives in Mumbai with his family.
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