We meet at the Indian Oil Corporation’s headquarters in Bandra. The ID card slung around his neck and the crisp formals tell you that 41-year-old Anand Neelakantan is an executive at a corporate giant. However, what sets this unassuming man apart is his highly successful career as an author of mythological fiction. Neelakantan’s bestselling debut novel, Asura: Tale of the Vanquished (2012), turned Ramayana on its head. Was the 10-headed demon, Ravana, really evil as we’re led to believe? Was Lord Rama divine? In his book, Neelakantan questions our age-old notions and depicts Ravana as an ambitious person oppressed by the system. Then, in Roll of the Dice (2013), part one of the Ajaya series, he re-tells the events leading up to the Mahabharata war, from the Kauravas’ point of view. Now, in the second and final part, Rise of Kali, he takes the story ahead from Duryodhana's perspective.

    You’ve said you were fascinated by mythology while growing up. How did epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana shape your childhood?
    Bards would often visit my village, Thripunithura (near Cochin, Kerala). We looked forward to their oral retellings of all the Puranas. It was a major source of entertainment.

    You’re drawn to anti-heroes. Why do you choose to write their side of the story?
    They appear more human. It was easy to identify with Ravana because, like most people, he has a lot of flaws. Rama is an ideal. One is a god, the other is a man. This is the case with Yudhisthira and Duryodhana too. 

    In Rise of Kali, you voiced some of your own misgivings about the Bhagvad Gita.
    I’ve expressed some of my doubts through Arjuna’s and Balrama’s. For instance, Balrama asks Krishna, “If Duryodhan is evil, why not kill only him? Why create a war?” Krishna doesn’t have a convincing answer to that.

    How do you go about researching for your novels?
    I speak to people from back home who keep the oral tradition alive. They have different takes on some of the smaller aspects in the same story. Then, I refer to a Puranic encyclopedia written a hundred years ago in Malayalam. It has a whole list of characters, in alphabetical order, and their stories. It’s quite phenomenal.

    How do you re-imagine a scene that’s been written about endlessly and read with reverence?
    When I sit down to write, I get into the skin of the characters. It’s like an actor playing his part. That kind of schizophrenia is required for a writer. For instance, I might have prayed half an hour ago, but Krishna is not a god when I start writing.

    What’s next?
    I am working on a young adult book series about the age old story of Kacha-Devayani (story of how Kacha, from the Deva clan and Devayani, daughter of Asura guru Shukracharya, fall in love). My daughter, who is nearly 13, is a big fan of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. She finds Indian mythology boring, which is very offensive to me (laughs). So, I'm writing this fantasy love story for her.

    Rise of Kali by Anand Neelakantan is out now.
    Price: Rs 399 (Leadstart Publishing)

Murray wins Wimbledon title, ends Britain's 77-year agony on 7/7

  • AFP, London
  • |
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2013 03:04 IST
  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray holds the winners trophy with Novak Djokovic holding the runners-up trophy after defeating the latter in their Wimbledon men's singles final. Reuters

  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray embraces Novak Djokovic after Murray's victory in Wimbledon men's singles final in Wimbledon. AFP Photo

  • Kim Sears

    Andy Murray's long-time girlfriend Kim Sears applauds while watching the Wimbledon men's singles final between Djokovic and Murray in Wimbledon, southwest London. AFP

  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray raises the winner's trophy after beating Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men's singles final in London. AFP Photo

  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray raises the winner's trophy after beating Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men's singles final in London. AFP

  • David Cameron

    British PM David Cameron and Scotland's minister Alex Salmond watch the Wimbledon men's singles final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in London. AFP

  • Zoe Bell

    Zoe Bell from London watches the men's singles final tennis match between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic on the big screen at Murray Mound at ...

  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray returns against Novak Djokovic during the Wimbledon men's singles final in Wimbledon, southwest London. AFP Photo

  • Andy Murray

    Andy Murray celebrates breaking the serve of Novak Djokovic in the first set during the men's singles final of Wimbledon Championships tournament in Wimbledon. AFP

  • Novak Djokovic

    Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Andy Murray of Britain during their men's singles final match of Wimbledon in London. Reuters

Andy Murray ended Britain's agonising 77-year wait for a Wimbledon men's singles champion on Sunday when he destroyed world number one Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the blistering heat of the All England Club.

The 26-year-old became the country's first male winner since Fred Perry in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War started, Jesse Owens defied Hitler at the Berlin Olympics and Gone With The Wind was published.

It was Murray's second Grand Slam title to follow his breakthrough triumph at the US Open in 2012 which followed his Olympic gold medal as well as a heartbreaking, tearful loss to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final.

However, Sunday's title showdown, between two men who have now contested three of the last four Grand Slam finals, rarely lived up to expectations.

Both struggled in the stifling 40-degree heat and the top-seeded Serb, who had beaten Murray in the Australian Open final in January, looked jaded after his record four hour 43-minute semi-final victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

Andy Murray raises the winner's trophy after beating Djokovic in the Wimbledon men's singles final. AFP

And despite leads of 4-1 in the second set and 4-2 in the third, he was out-hit by Murray who finished with 36 winners to 31, with 21 unforced errors to the Serb's 40 and having carved out 17 break points.

Inside a baking Centre Court, and watched by Victoria Beckham, Wayne Rooney as well as Hollywood stars Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper, the first point of the match was a punishing 20 strokes.

Andy Murray's first tweet as a Wimbledon champion came less than 90 minutes after his victory:

Murray, who has played in the final of his last four majors, had break points in the first and third games, with the Scot finally pouncing on his seventh for a 2-1 lead.

Djokovic levelled at 2-2 but Murray was the more aggressive, positive man and broke to love for a 4-3 edge firing almost four times as many winners than the top-seeded Serb.

Andy Murray embraces Djokovic after Murray's victory in Wimbledon men's singles final. AFP

Murray saved three break points for a 5-3 lead but Djokovic was furious that umpire Mohamed Lahyani had called a ball out at 30-40 while allowing play to continue with the Scot going to deuce.

The British second seed took the opener 6-4 after 59 minutes with a love service game, having hit 17 winners to six and with only six unforced errors to the world number one's 17.

Murray wasn't getting complacent -- he had won the the first set of the pair's last three meetings and still lost the match.

Murray kisses the winner's trophy after winning his maiden Wimbledon title. AFP

Djokovic was obviously aware of the history, speeding into a 4-1 lead with two more marathon rallies of 30 and 32 shots.

But Murray roared back to 4-4 in a final which, despite its punishing hitting, still felt flat with both players too similar in style and then appearance when they both donned white caps to combat the sun's glare.

Djokovic, however, was becoming increasingly frustrated with Lahyani, the court, on which he kept slipping, as well as his own poor judgement which left him without challenges as the set progressed.

In his fog of anxiety, Murray mugged him for a break to lead 6-5 and went two sets to the good at 7-5.

Murray had only lost once when two sets up and that was in the Wimbledon third round in 2005 against David Nalbandian, his debut year when he was a rookie 18-year-old.

A break in the second game of the third set gave Murray a 2-0 lead before Djokovic, having discarded the hat, raced away with the next four games for a 4-2 lead.

But terrier Murray reclaimed the break in the seventh game and levelled in the eighth with a running, curled forehand off a Djokovic drop.

It was almost over.

Djokovic, in his 11th Grand Slam final, was broken for 4-5 before the British star, with the crowd on their feet, wasted three match points.

He finally achieved his place in history when Djokovic netted a backhand after three hours and nine minutes of action.

Djokovic gets up after slipping in his men's singles final match against Murray in London. Reuters
Finishing final was hardest moment of my life, says Murray
Andy Murray described the dramatic conclusion to his historic Wimbledon triumph as the hardest points he had ever played.

The 26-year-old, who lost in a tearful Wimbledon final against Roger Federer last year, became the country's first male winner since Fred Perry in 1936.

"Probably the hardest few points I've ever had to play in my life," Murray said.


"I have played Novak many times and when everyone finishes playing, he will go down as one of the fighters.

Andy Murray's factfile
Andy Murray Great Britain
World ranking 2
Age 26
Birthdate May 15, 1987
Birthplace Dunblane, Scotland
Residence London, England
Height 6'3" (190 cm)
Weight 185 lbs (84 kg)
Plays Right-handed
Turned Pro 2005
Coach Ivan Lendl
Website www.andymurray.com
Twitter @andy_murray
Career singles titles 28
Grand Slam singles titles 2 (US Open 2012, Wimbledon 2013)
Career prize money $29,713,852
Best Wimbledon result Champion (2013)
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Finishing final was hardest moment of my life: Murray

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