When I told a few people that I am reading the book Vanara – pat comes the reply: “Have you run out of reading about humans that you have to read about monkeys?” That’s when I realized what Anand Neelakantan must have faced (if he hasn’t – bless his stars!) when a few people must have known about his upcoming book.

Here I am reading about prejudices, biases, race and conflicts and it seems that it is deeply entrenched in the Indian psyche even today to warrant a reply that I got. Some people never change, never see beyond beauty and ugliness and never learn!

I had already read Anand’s Asura and Sivagami and I loved them. I took my time to pick up Vanara not because it dealt with vanaras but the promos of the book talked about the love triangle of Baali, Sugreeva and Taara. I don’t prefer reading mushy romance tales. However, having known Anand’s writing style – I decided to pick up the book and take the risk of reading a romance. True to my intuition – Anand gave me something to think on, and those thoughts have been shared here:



Here’s what I need to share about the book:

  • Get your hands on this book with a fresh mind – Anand writes and allows you to chew on the words as you read
  • Nature, Politics, Love, Values and Valor all tangle up into a fine tale by Anand
  • Such a book for modern readers hasn’t been attempted before,  especially of the Vana-naras and this makes it a refreshing read
  • The cover design by Mihir Joglekar is quite impressive. The illustrations inside the book too lend flavor to the overall story.
  • Unfortunately found minor typos in the book at 2-3 places in relation to the name and word spellings. Hope the editor of Penguin looks into it before it goes for re-print
  • Overall, a must read book for lovers of mythology, history, geography and cultural studies



Baali and Sugreeva of the Vana Nara tribe were orphan brothers who were born in abject poverty and grew up as slaves like most of their fellow tribesmen. They were often mocked as the vanaras, the monkey men. Sandwiched between the never-ending war between the Deva tribes in the north and the Asura tribes in the south, the Vana Naras seemed to have lost all hope. But Baali was determined not to die a slave. Aided by his beloved brother, Sugreeva, Baali built a country for his people. The capital city, Kishkindha, became a beacon of hope for emancipated slaves from across the world. It was a city of the people, by the people, for the people, where there was no discrimination based on caste, creed, language or the colour of skin. For a brief period in history, it seemed as if mankind had found its ideal hero in Baali. But then fate intervened through the beautiful Tara, the daughter of a tribal physician. Loved by Baali and lusted after by Sugreeva, Tara became the cause of a fraternal war that would change history for ever.
The love triangle between Baali, Tara and Sugreeva is arguably the world’s first. Written by Anand Neelakantan who gave a voice to Ravana in Asura, Duryodhana in the Ajaya series and Sivagami in the Baahubali series, Vanara is a classic tale of love, lust and betrayal. Shakespearean in its tragic depth and epic in its sweep, Vanara gives voice to the greatest warrior in the Ramayana-Baali.


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Kavita Singh considers herself to be a blue stocking – a very happily mad bibliophile – who can’t get enough of the books! While her TBR pile is mounting constantly, the smell of books gives her a high. However, her reviews are grounded on the reality of author-led thoughts and reader-led perspectives. You can reach out to her for book reviews on

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