And the trend reverses

MUMBAI: When Priyanka Chopra chose to romance the superhero in Krrish (India‘s answer to Superman and Batman) it was a risk well-taken. Now she has gone a step further by agreeing to play the superheroine in the animated version of Virgin comics.

A relatively new entrant in the business of publishing, Virgin Comics is redefining comics and animation using India-themed content. Based in Bangalore, it is a creative collaboration of writer Deepak Chopra, Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and Richard Branson. Aimed at creating a new wave of global comic entertainment, Virgin has titles like Ramayan 3392 AD, Devi, The Sadhu and now Priyanka‘s untitled version.

Priyanka‘s story will launch as a comic book first and then in animation and games. What is interesting is the trend reversal. Earlier comic books turned into movies (Superman, Batman, Robin) whereas now celluloid actors become comic book heroes. Incidentally, Hollywood folklore has it that screen appearances of Superman jinxes the actors associated with it. Christopher Lee was paralyzed, George Reeves shot himself.

It was way back in the eighties when many comic books took inspiration from the then reigning superhero Amitabh Bachchan. He was the first pink-clad Supremo in Indrajaal comics. This was then more driven by reader needs than by content. The series flopped though it had writer Gulzar as content consultant.

On television there was Shaktiman played by Mukesh Khanna. The TV serial CID‘s timeless characters had also come alive on the comic books as well. But the superhero who hit big time was Hrithik in Krrish, our homegrown superhero.


Back home, post Hum Tum, which had comic characters in their own animated sequences in the film, the comic book hero is making his presence felt. With Roadside Romeo, the forthcoming animated film where Saif and Kareena have lent their voices to dogs for the first time, the trend continues.

Written and directed by Jugal Hansraj, who is an actor himself, the film is co-produced by Yash Raj films and Walt Disney Studios. The Indian comic book industry is poised for a transformation and as it goes in for a global outlook it bids adieu to the traditional comic book heroes. The smarter, yuppier avatar of the new-age comic book superhero is hip and more reader-friendly. Geared at attracting the right target audience, the new superheroes may soon garner a strong fan base. And as Bollywood actors are moving in for the kill, the market will soon be flooded with more.

Move over Catwoman, Supergirl as our desi wonder woman makes her entry. And she may do much better than her Hollywood counterpart - because she can also sing and dance.

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