SHARAD Devarajan is a rock star in the Indian comic book world. He’s likely to make the covers of magazines for his entrepreneurial prowess soon. Until then, the superheroes from his company Graphic India are making it to bookshelves — and digital devices — around the globe.
Graphic India has now introduced Mighty Girl, to join their superhero Chakra The Invincible, the star of a web series and a 2013 animated TV film. Mighty Girl starts out as Leela, Chakra’s best friend, and one of few people who know his secret identity, before she gains superpowers to become Mumbai’s newest super-heroine.
The decisive factor for Sharad’s success was a tie-up with former chief of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, who helped create the story, along with the designer Jeevan J Kang. “Working with Stan is like creating a painting with Da Vinci or a poem with Shakespeare,” enthuses Sharad. “He’s the ultimate ‘black belt’ master of superhero storytelling. I bet more people recognise Spider-Man than Mona Lisa.”
“We don’t see ourselves as people in the ‘comic book’ or ‘television’ business, we see ourselves as people in the ‘storytelling’ business,” offers Sharad, adding, “There has never been a better time for us, with so many ways to bring stories to a global interconnected digital world.”
The plans for Chakra are extensive. “In the same way that people don’t think of Spider-Man as just a comic book, or Harry Potter as just a book, we look at Chakra as a story that can expand beyond the printed page or the animated series, and exist across TV, film, games, animation, comics, digital content and consumer products,” says Sharad. These plans will be executed over the next few years.
“Indian youth are one of the largest and fastest growing audiences, with more than 600 million consumers under the age of 25, and more than 900 million mobile phone users,” notes Sharad. “Character entertainment in India has only scratched the surface,” he adds.
“The next JK Rowling, Spielberg or Stan Lee is sitting somewhere in India, and our responsibility is to find these talents, nurture them and give them the resources and belief to take their ideas to the world,” proclaims Sharad. The Chakra comics were created in collaboration with Lee’s production house, POW! Entertainment, along with The World’s Largest Lesson initiative, supported by GEMS Education and UNICEF.
“We want the stories to be fun, but still deliver important themes,” offers Sharad. In one story, for instance, Chakra switches minds with Leela for a day, and while Leela gets to fly off with his powers, Chakra experiences some of the inequalities faced by girls, thereby learning to be a better hero. Chakra’s adventures are also set to be in an upcoming film, directed by Vikra -maditya Motwane.
“What makes Chakra special is that it tells the story of this generation, the story of globalisation,” says Sharad. “The concept of an Indian boy who wears a technologically enhanced suit that activates the mythical chakras bridging science and spirituality,” he adds.
“India’s heritage positions us uniquely, to tell stories that align with the ambiguities and dualities we see now more than ever, across the world.”Chakra’s stories,
thus, attempt to retain a larger world view.
The titles Gender Equality, Climate Change, Education and Sanitation in the series Chakra and Mighty Girl are available for downloads at `136 each on amazon.in