Epic twist to epic tales

Epic twist to epic tales
Highlights

While it can be said that Hollywood can’t swing a cat in the box office without hitting a comic book movie of some kind, comic books writers in India are smitten by reintroducing mythological characters with subtle retouches or sometimes with a major blow of a modern twist.

Mythology is a new fad among comic book writers

While it can be said that Hollywood can’t swing a cat in the box office without hitting a comic book movie of some kind, comic books writers in India are smitten by reintroducing mythological characters with subtle retouches or sometimes with a major blow of a modern twist.

Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), established in 1967 by Anant Pai, was started with the view of acquainting the youth with mythology native to the country. Initial editions of ACK were graphic retelling of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Such was its popularity, that at its peak, it was not only translated into regional languages but also Indonesian, French and Spanish among others.

Skip to present, ACK has continued its journey with ‘Dashaavatar’, ‘The Kuru Genesis’ and ‘Pandavas P5’ (series on the Pandavas, in the fashion of Japanese anime). From the looks of it, it seems the trend will hold fort for some time.

But nevertheless, Vivek Goel of Holy Cow Entertainment became the icon of the decade after he decided to write the most successful franchise ‘Ravanayan’.

“When I was about to release the book, there were many threats. Most felt from the cover that I would be hailing Ravana as a hero and Rama would be the villain in the story,” he says, while interacting with The Hans India.

“How can I ever do that living in India, where Rama is loved as a God,” he added. As soon as ‘Ravanayan’ was released, the reaction was extreme. Everyone who read it loved it and religiously followed the franchise that has come to an end with the last edition released at the recently concluded Hyderabad Comic Con.

Following the success of ‘Ravanayan’, Vivek started a new franchise ‘Aghori’. The series, which is currently the flagship of Holy Cow Entertainment, narrates the story of a simple man caught in a struggle of good and evil. In his desperation, he turns to an unusual school of education for answers and twelve years on, returns to his world changed - as Vira, the Aghori.

Inspired by the Indian mythology and the Aghoris of Kailash, the writer introduced an anti-hero vigilante. “Another character we have introduced through ‘Aghori’ was Desh. We will continue the ‘Aghori’ series and meanwhile plan to start a new series on Desh. A few things that our readers will love would be the fact that in either of the two series, the paths of the two heroes would cross and an avid reader would be able to connect the sequence of stories that run parallel for both these heroes,” he adds.

Another trendsetter in this genre was ‘Parshu’ by Mumbai-based Orange Radius Arts. Targeted at 14 plus age group, the story line of this graphic novel has a young boy growing up like any other lad and how an incident changes his ‘regular’ life leading to a series of events unleashing his superhero abilities.

“Here Parshu is not the hero, it is his axe, the axe which belonged to the Parshuram, avatar of Lord Vishnu,” mentions Raveesh. As the series goes ahead, the bond between the boy and the axe is portrayed, which eventually gives the boy similar superpowers to those of Parshuram.

One challenge that Raveesh, the writer of the comic came across while developing the book was creating a balance between the superhero’s stylish, slick look of the protagonist and his alter ego character which should look believable, though critics have been calling it, “inspired from Nightwing in Batman series of comics.”

To end with, two recent releases by Aayumi Productions’s ‘Kaal’ and ‘Item Dhamaka’ were released in Hyderabad Comic Con. ‘Kaal’ deals with a human soul about to be turned into a Yamdut, saved when Lord Garuda controls Naraka (hell) for a brief amount of time. He is then molded into someone who can fight the forces of darkness. Written by Liam Webb, a writer with experience as an intern at Marvel, and writing for the Comic Book Artist Guild, Arcana and Red Comics Publications, ‘Kaal’ is to be the debut flagship title of Aayumi Productions. Their creator and the penciller of their publication ‘Kaal’, Pankaj Naik, is another man of experience and talent, who promises to deliver imaginative stories with riveting artwork.

While all these have been very serious in nature Item Dhamaka by Aayumi Productions, gave a quirky touch to mythology. A dynamic duo of Urvashi, a scorned apsara banished from Devloka and Prahlad, a pacifist Asura exiled from Asurloka team up together on earth to fight against a conspiracy that has spilled out from the heavens. Incidentally Urvashi’s present occupation as a star performer in the biggest Dancebar in Mumbai and Prahlad happens to be the erudite bouncer of the club. Urvashi is called ‘Item’ by the patrons of the club, and Prahlad has taken the name ‘Dhamaka Singh’ to conceal his true identity. The story from then on is hilarious and idiosyncratic.

Reena I Puri, editor of Amar Chitra Katha, says that the trend is something that mystifies her as well. "I suppose it is because Indian myths are still alive and relevant with our everyday rituals and festivals. We haven't plumbed the depths yet," says Puri.

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