Just in case, if you had forgotten, I did promise to have our second and concluding part of V-Day Special Comicology Post. So here it is. In that comic post, we looked at the successful (?!!) attempts on bringing the celebrities into Comics format, but here are the ones who missed out on the bus, and remained only in concept and ill-driven media news.
Krrish (2006): It was the first mainstream movie from Bollywood, which featured an Indian Authentic Superhero, in the form of Hrithik Roshan, who is undoubtedly a talented actor. It was sequel to Koi Mil Gaya (2003), which itself was inspired by the Hollywood blockbuster Spielberg movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). The movie centres around Krrish, the titular character, who had inherited superhero powers from his father, and creates a secret identity to defend the world against an evil scientist, played by one of my favourite actor, Nasureedin Shah. The lady love was portrayed by Priyanka Chopra.
Wonder, does she have a in-ept ability, as having been featured in two movies as lady-love to Superhero. Well, she certainly has the physique to match up to that reputation.
The movie was a blockbuster of success, and there were talks of it being merchandised in many forms, which included a series of Comics titles. But the producers then decided to concentrate on the next movie Krrish 2, thus shelving the project, at least temporarily.
This gave a chance for Drona, to hit the stands later as the first Bollywood Superhero to be printed in form of Comics, but the fact remains Krrish was lot better to have owned that credit. Often, Krrish is touted as the first Superhero of India, but the fact is that Big B, scored ahead of him with Supremo, even though that was never made into mainstream. (Read more about Drona & Supremo, in our V-Day post).
The Master Blaster (2007): It was time for another Cricketer, to be made as a Superhero, this time another batting legend, Sachin Tendulkar, was touted to be the Superhero. The series was coined by the erstwhile Virgin Comics, with Sachin’s alter-ego being named “The Master Blaster”. Sachin Tendulkar was actually brought in as a business partner, to get his involvement to the project, and there was a huge media euphoria, when the series was announced. Sachin was shown wearing a full body-armour, with a flowing thunderous Bat as his weapon. A real “Bat-Man”, you can say.
But, what followed was India’s abysmal performance in Cricket World Cup 2007, which prompted Virgin to drop their initial plans, and we were saved from witnessing this ill conceived concept, which even if it had materialized would have met the same fate as Supremo & Supersleuth.
The first issue, which was supposedly being drawn by Jeevan J Kang (Spiderman India fame), was scripted as the Blade of the Masters, fighting a villain whose amulet of power holds 11 spirits. Imagine that, they conceived him to change to his superhero avatar, by simply flashing his bat… eeks.
Doesn’t this characterization resemble much on the He-Man, from the Masters of the Universe animated TV series, back then. Oops, and they were touting this as an Original concept. Oh yes, I believed.
Princess Anamika/Priyanka (2007): After playing lady-love to both Indian Superheroes, it was a chance for Priyanka to make her own foray as a full-fledged Superheroine, or at least it was touted to be. The publishing house, was again Virgin Comics, who after their failed attempt to create Celebrity comics early in the year, tried to cash in on the popularity of Priyanka Chopra, by touting her as a Wonder-Woman styled Super heroine, to base a series of comics and graphic novels on her.
The quote from the Virgin Comics that time on Priyanka’s supposed Superhero concept was
“The superhero in question is an adopted girl who discovers she is the latest in a line of princesses with great mystical power and a sworn duty to take down evil wherever it lurks.”
Well it sounds, more like a Bollywood movie. Luckily, we didn’t end up witnessing this comic series too, as Virgin Comics started having their own administrative and marketing problems and decided to halt their involvement in India for the time being (which they are yet to come out from).
No wonder they had problems. They just paid the price for deviating away from their original and niche concept of basing comic series based on Indian mythologies, and tried to imitate and gain the mass-media attention and business by making superheroes out of media celebrities. The result was there to been seen by all.
I have no qualms over Priyanka Chopra, who was Ms.World beauty contest winner for all her figure and charisma, and is one of the best actors in Bollywood at present. But conceptualising her as a Comic series superheroine, eeks… Good that we were saved from witnessing it. Euro Books, who later launched Drona Prequel Comics, were also planning to revive this concept which was put in cold store, by planning to make Priyanka in Comics format. The result of Drona put this plan also into the backburner.
But recently, there was confusing media attention about Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin group, who was also the man behind the Virgin Comics, who then pulled the plug of out them. It talks about Branson still being interested in casting Priyanka Chopra as a Comic heroine.
I don’t know how this media news came about, as this was originally a concept pioneered by the Indian creators at Virgin, and all those initial concepts are now owned by Liquid Comics. All the news medias which I read about this new announcement seems to have taken excerpts out of the old news archives which came about in 2007.
So I believe it is just a mistake by some media goon, as I don’t see Branson starting a comic business just to feature Priyanka in that. But he is known for crazy things, so I don’t put my money on him. God Please save us.
Shadow Hunter (2008): But Virgin Comics, was not to be denied. Like the unsatisfied evil spirit, they went after their concept of basing comics series on celebrities, this time trying their luck in America, with their newly conceptualised Voices brand showcasing celebrities not linked to comics industry, to also create and pioneer their own comic series.
There were numerous ones, which came out of that result, but only one of them was truly to be called a Celebrity Comics, because that particular individual decided to create a story in keeping up with the original story of thyself. It was the Prom Queen, Jenna Jameson, who created a limited edition comic series, with a female superheroine named Shadow Hunter.
This was the official quote from Virgin Comics, that time:
“Shadow Hunter, is the story of a provocative superheroine who survives a brush with death only to find herself fighting the legions of hell for her very soul. The story, while provocative and sexy, contains no nudity and is intended for a mainstream audience”
Even though, this particular series was not based on any Indian Superstars, it had to find its place in our Celebrity Comics post, to map the freefall which Virgin Comics took ever since the series was published. It ultimately saw them wrapping up their projects, and going for a management buyout, with the resultant product being named Liquid Comics, which at present stands as per its name.
As a mid-post bonus to those who read the post up-till now, here are the covers of that 4 part mini series. Enjoy !!
This was not the scenario, when comics publishers like Amar Chitra Katha (ACK), were basing their comics titles on acclaimed national leaders, and successful entrepreneurs.
Now the new breed of comics publishers seems to be toeing the American way, and trying to be one-up over them in bringing commercial characters into comics format.
The question remains, do they really love the Comics business, or do they only aim to see it as a money-making business? I hope normality ensures, and comics publishers take lessons from other publishers ill fate, who toed the line and seen their readers market erode.
As much as we despise, the American influence on commercialisation of comics, there is no denying of the fact that at times they did produce comics on legendary characters, without changing their originality, one such case was the comics based on legendary martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.
Erstwhile Rani Comics and Indrajal Comics in India, had featured Bruce Lee Comic books in their line-up, which probably might have come from the British Genre. Taking a cue out of them, American major comics giant Marvel, started a series inspired by Bruce Lee, named “Kung Fu” in 1974.
The series, which was drawn and inked by Superman,Batman fame Neal Adams, featured a series of fictional Martial art superstars, who were led in front by a characterization of Bruce Lee himself. The series ran for a total of 33 issues, spanning until 1977.
That was not all, in 1994 Malibu Comics, a now defunct independent comics publisher, also ran a 6 issue mini-series featuring Bruce Lee as their titular character. The series was part of their comic series about Mortal Kombat game series.
Here is the Credit page, and a sample of the Inner artwork, which proves that the quality of the comics was at the top level. Especially the close-up shots of Bruce Lee and detailed fighting scenes, which seems to have been inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee movies.
Here are the covers of 4 other titles from the series. Don’t they give an impressive look, I would love to own this series in my collection. (Pics: comicvine.com)
The reception to the series, which is now considered as a Collectors Item, does say that comics enthusiasts and fans always been receptive about comic series created with original and legendary personas from the past, and not the commercially motivated ones dished out by the likes of Virgin Comics. It’s now left to the publishers to decide, what they make out of the reality.
Now that we have looked into the comics publishers attempts to build comic characters out of commercial personas, it will be good that we end the post by talking about some of the other attempts in our own Bollywood movie industry, which saw some famous comic characters like Superman and Tarzan, being brought in with a Indian touch. Obviously, without proper permission or copyrights.
Adventures of Tarzan (1985): The plot of the movies goes like this. Ruby Shetty, a beautiful and attractive young woman, lives a wealthy lifestyle with her widowed dad. His dad ventures on to the deep jungles of India to find a fabled tribe in the Shakabhoomi region, where others have gone - but never returned.
Ruby also decides to follow her dad, and meets up with him near the jungle's edge, where she is introduced to a man named D.K., who her dad like her to get married to. The following few days Ruby has a number of misadventures and is rescued by an ape-like man who is called Tarzan, and both fall in love with each other. Tarzan cannot speak any language but is intrigued by Ruby, much to the chagrin of D.K., whose task is to capture Tarzan and take him to work for Krishnakant Verma, who owns Apollo Circus. Before Tarzan and Ruby's romance could take wing, Tarzan is captured, chained and taken to the circus. But by the help of the wild animals who attack the city, Tarzan gets freed, and marries Ruby and lives happily ever after.
Almost a complete ridicule, of the legendary Tarzan character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which simply borrowed the original plot, and added Bollywood of Masala Mix, and oomph factor. One saving grace of the movie was the Ruby (Jane Porter equivalent) character portrayed by Kimi Katkar.
A little know actor that time, she was propelled to star fame, with her dare bare act, and smooching scenes in the movie. No wonder the movie was a hit, just because of her presence. Movie frantics would remember, that at the top of her career, she even played lady love of Amitabh Bachan, in the 1991 Bollywood blockbuster movie Hum, which had a star cast of Bollywood Comedian Govinda, and South-Indian Super Star, Rajinikanth. One of the popular songs of the movie was Jumma Chumma De De (and arguably part the reason for the success of the movie), which had Bachan & Katkar dancing to the tune of a music inspired by an African musician.
Superman (1987): It was time for Superman to feature in a Bollywood movie, again unofficially. In this Indian take on the classic superhero story, a young baby from the doomed planet Krypton is sent to Earth, where he is adopted by an elderly couple in India who name him Shekhar. The role of Shekhar, was played by Puneet Isaar, who is more famously known as the actor who played the character of Duryodhana in the famous Mahabharata TV Serial, aired on Doordarshan (DD) from 1988 to 1990.
After growing to an adult and learning about his origins and powers, Shekhar goes to the city in search of his school sweetheart, Gita, who has become a newspaper reporter. At the same time, Verma, Shekhar's rival for Gita's affection in their school days, has gone on to become a crime lord and general super-villain. Verma has hatched at plan to become rich by devastating part of India with natural disasters, then buying up all of the abandoned land. Will Superman/Shekhar be able to put a stop to Verma's evil plan? Will he win Gita's heart? Will he keep his double identity a secret? well, those are answered in the rest of the movie. No surprises, because it is a same plot of the original Superman character.
Unlike Tarzan, this didn’t have any saving grace, even though Bollywood star Dharmendra donned the role of Superman’s father. It was a total failure at the box-office, and till date remains the worst example of a Bollywood parody, and continues to be a butt of joke on all foreign movie review sites. A best example of them is on stomptokyo.com, who have given a complete review with the hilarious touch, for the so called Indian Superman.
Superman (1960): But this wasn’t the first ever Superman takedown in Bollywood. Yes, indeed there were two attempts earlier as way back in 1960 itself, even before the official Superman film released in 1978. Surprising as it may sound, its indeed true, even though on a worst quality.
Manmohan Sabir directed this 1960 feature, but he had a competition from another director named Mohammad Hussain who also was making a movie on the same DC character, with the film simply titled as ‘Superman’. Thus, Sabir decided to name his movie as ‘Return of Superman’, without any meaning to the word ‘Return’, as both of them had the same story of Superman’s Origin bundled with Bollywood Masala Mix.
But there was a connection indeed, as both movies had then famous actor Jairaj, playing the protagonist. Obviously, the second movie is much more famous (?!) then the first one, so here is a VCD cover for the movie. Make what you want out it.
Now, who is out there who says that Superman is American… You only have to laugh looking at the Superman costume, but if you still insist, here is a complete review of this movie, from a blogger named TODD. Enough Said.
Dariya Dil (1988): No Indian Superhero movie would be complete, without mentioning about a ultimate cross-over of DC & Marvel, in our own Indian version.
It was a movie featuring Govinda, and Kimi Katkar (again), which actually didn’t have a plot revolving around Superheroes. But one of the songs in the movie, saw Govinda in a Superman Suit, and Kimi Katkar in a Spider-Woman costume, dancing to a Bollywood tune. I must say more than Govinda, Kimi seems to be a good fit for the costume :). Here is a YouTube video featuring the legendary (?!!) song. Isn’t that Funny :).
I only wonder what would have been the reaction of DC & Marvel, had they seen this less talked about movie song. I agree they wouldn’t care, but the fact remains that they took more than 4 decades since their inception during the Golden Age of American Comics, to have agreed on common terms to have a first ever superhero cross-over in form of Superman/Spiderman in 1976.
But, it took only a dream song in the minds of the lead cast and a couple of costume stitches, to get this concept into fruition in our sweet old Bollywood. :) As funny it may sound, It’s time we start respecting the copyrights held by the publishers. If only there any listeners, to this morale in the free world.
And what’s more there is a new comic publishing company in India, in the name of Arkin Comics, who seem to have copyrighted a new concept, where we could get to feature as a hero in a Solo Comic title on our own. They call it Customized Comics, and few titles are currently online, at a price close to INR 1000. At least, this is something new, from the celebrity comics junk, we have been dished out earlier. This could really serve as a good gift for some kids or teens, on their birthday party. You could learn more about this on their corporate site.
Talks are also on about another pioneer Comic series from the same publishers, titled IRITH, featuring a Hi-Fi Anti-Terrorists Super Squad, on the backdrops of 26/11 Mumbai attack. The first title is scheduled to be on stands in April this year, which is billed as a product out of a team of 20+ artists.
Even though, the series reminds me a lot on the lines of The 99 Series from Teshkeel Comics, discussed over here at Comicology earlier, I hope it will be different in content as it involves a modern day menace, than the former.
Talking of which, there is a comic post pending on the further issues of The 99 Series, soon at Comicology.
And that brings us to the close of our V-Day Special 2 part comic posts. Hopefully, you would have found this post useful and fun reading, just like I felt while working on it. Wish you all a Happy Week ahead. Have Fun & nJoY, while I will be back with another old comics review post shortly. Adios Amigos !