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Pratidwandi (The Opponent) – Book One: The Kalari

 | Book Awards 2022 | Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)

Pratidwandi (The Opponent) – Book One: The Kalari

“The year is 1852. A fire has engulfed the entire nation. India is under siege and her people are waking up to the realities of a foreign rule. Whispers of a rebellion are doing the rounds; a rebellion that could take the nation like a storm and uproot the East India Company from power, forever.”

Sai, a young scion of a legendary family of warriors, is peacefully meditating when the news of his father’s death arrives, delivering a major setback to the tradition of Kalarippayattu. Forced to flee his native village and run for safety, Sai gets abducted by a band of dacoits. Just when he is about to lose all hope, he is miraculously saved by a mysterious young boy, who cites a great debt owed to his father. Sai escapes in time, but ends up with a bunch of unanswered questions in his mind.

Why did a stranger in a forest, miles away from his home, help him?
What was his father really up to?
What will be the fate of the great tradition of Kalarippayattu?

Pratidwandi is the first ever series on Indian Martial Arts.

“Ambuj Gupta’s Pratidwandi is deep, dark and disturbing but definitely worth a read. This gripping nationalistic saga takes one hurtling through the incredible resistance movement pioneered by the heroic Indian martial arts exponents against the inhuman British in Kerala. Gupta writes like H. Rider Haggard. I read it in one go. Strongly recommended.” - Almas Hussain, Author, Daughters of Char Chinar

“This historical fiction showcasing the beauty, bravery and richness of lesser written Indian martial art - Kalaripayattu - fighting their existential battle against the tyrannical British rule is a gripping tale. The easy flow of narrative style complements beautifully both the vividity and grandiosity of imagination, giving it a magnificently fictional texture.” - Dr Shishir Srivastav, Author, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

“I am a non-fiction reader and the reason I pick fiction to let my emotions and senses experience the ups and downs. Pratidwandi ticks all the boxes. Romance, heroes, villains, super girls, war, suspense, drama, thrill, emotions. Ambuj Gupta has packed loads of stuff in this beautiful meal. The characters are lively, the theme and stage are almost crying for a Bollywood calling. Ambuj finds an interesting connection between an ancient martial art form, its tutors & pupils, British regime and then sews them together to narrate a war story. A must-read for its characters. And, now eagerly waiting to experience the next story from Ambuj’s imagination locker.” - Nishith Goyal, Author, Be Better Bit-By-Bit

Full Title: Pratidwandi (The Opponent) - Book One: The Kalari

Author: Ambuj Gupta
Publisher: Pirates

Award Category: Creative Writing in English (Fiction & Poetry)
About the Book: 

Set in a fictional universe, Pratidwandi (The Opponent) is the story of how a people’s revolution shook a global empire. It revolves around a band of Indian martial art fighters, who decide to fight against the oppressive rule of the British East India Company, in the backdrop of the Revolt of 1857.

'Pratidwandi' is the first ever series on Indian Martial Arts.

About the Author: 

Ambuj is an author and filmmaker based out of Delhi. Till 2018, he was working as a corporate lawyer for a prestigious law firm. In 2018, he quit his job to pursue writing and filmmaking. He started working with a production house called Searchglass Films and was making low-budget documentaries and experimental films till May 2020. He completed his first documentary film, Community, a dog-documentary exploring the relationship between humans and dogs, and released it at some of the most prestigious film festivals across the country. It is available on YouTube. His second documentary film, Heroes of Himalayas, which is on the Green Trails initiative of Indiahikes (the country’s largest trekking organization), was released on YouTube in October 2020. He started working on two novel series in the summer of 2020, finishing a couple of manuscripts and laying the foundations for many more, Pratidwandi being one of them.

Ambuj currently lives with his parents in Gurugram, India. He is working as a corporate lawyer and tries to juggle his time between a high-pressure job and creating stories, every day, bit by bit. In his free time, he likes to run and swim.


All but one mustered the courage to fight back. Considered one of the greatest practitioners of Kalarippayattu of the time, Master Vadu Kechary, of the Vadu Clan, stood up. In a desperate attempt, he took a band of rebels to overtake a small British outpost in Kerala. It was a courageous effort but it wasn’t enough.
All the rebels died fighting and Vadu was taken prisoner.

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