“Baahubali” series author Anand Neelakantan has written his debut book in the children’s space which tells some of the most hilarious stories about child asuras and their antics.
Puffin has published “The Very, Extremely, Most Naughty Asura Tales for Kids”, which has full-colour illustrations accompanying the narrative.
Among the stories are those of asura twins Kundakka and Mandakka, who hate going to school; clumsy Bhasma and pet pig Nakura, who create trouble in the village; brothers Atapi and Vatapi, who like to eat 96 cartfuls of fruits as dessert; and the great Bana who claps with his thousand hands.
The stories are interspersed with funny songs and poems making the book a read-aloud as well as a bedtime companion, the publishers said.
Neelakantan says he found that most children are addicted to their electronic devices and if at all they read, they are fond of books coming from the west.
“Some of them are great stories and beautifully written, but they alienate kids from our stories and culture. We have one of the oldest storytelling traditions in the world, and it is unfortunate that our kids grow up without getting familiar with them,” he says.
When he asked some children why they don’t find Indian stories cool, they told him that these were “boring with a heavy dose of morality”. So, he decided to bring back the fun and entertainment in storytelling.
“Traditional Indian folk arts are meant for entertainment. It is never preachy or judgmental. Making asuras dark and evil is a recent phenomenon. There is a fascinating world out there that has so many wonderful fantasy elements in our stories,” Neelakantan says.
“This book is a small window to that world. This is an introduction to the marvellous world of Indian Puranas,” he adds.
Neelakantan says he is often mistaken for an asura, for he too has curly hair. He had enough of the pranks of little asuras who irritated him in his sleep and so, he decided to give it back to them in this book.
He has authored books like “The Rise of Sivagami” (“Baahubali: Before the Beginning”, Book 1); “Asura: Tale of the Vanquished”; “Ajaya: Roll of the Dice”; “Ajaya: Rise of Kali”; “Vanara: The Legend of Baali, Sugreeva and Tara”; and, most recently, “Chaturanga” (“Baahubali: Before the Beginning”, Book 2).
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