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Hanuman battles Batman in America

Hanuman battles Batman in America

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: The Financial Express
Date: July 17, 2006
URL: http://www.financialexpress.com/latest_full_story.php?content_id=134278

Spiderman and Batman are in for stiff competition from Indian mythological characters, whose supernatural powers are drawing attention of American and European kids, long used to the antics of the western superheroes.

Creating a new wave of global comic entertainment, Indian animators are bringing out books and graphic novels based on mythological characters, especially for western readers.

"World over people are now worshipping these new gods - Devi, Shakti, Hanuman, Akaash, Dharti...," said noted filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, adding India's 600 million teenagers are now at the forefront of the creation of these new gods.

"The art of two-hour captive, non interactive product called the movie is history. Comic book characters - traditional and digital - are the new cult, the new religion," said Kapur, noting the Indian comic characters are derived directly from the vast ocean of mythology.

"While we launched with our comics in the US market our belief is that youth across the world are similar and hence our content is designed to cater to the homogeneity of this youth audience. The comics are going to be distributed across the globe - North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia," Suresh Seetharaman, of Virgin Animation, India operations, told PTI from Bangalore.

"The heroes and villains that have endured for centuries in the mythical traditions of Asia form some of the most dynamic characters that are now ripe for global consumption through an entertaining and colourful medium," said Gotham Chopra, son of spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, who is also involved with this work.

"The content is really targeted at a global audience. With the Shakti line we are actually taking the rich cultural and story telling heritage of India and making it relevant to a youth audience across the world as well as in India," says Seetharaman, noting a new global media company 'Virgin Comics' has been formed by Shekhar Kapur, Sir Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra for crafting original stories and character content.

"Today, Japanese animation influences virtually every aspect of popular media in the West today. We aim to reinvent contemporary Indian popular art and permeate it throughout the globe," said Sharad Devarajan of Virgin Comics.

However, the success of the Indian comic book will come not from copying, but from using the base of existing Indian mythology and art form and creating a unique product that has international appeal," says Kapur on the Virgin Comics website.

"In the same way Indian children have embraced Batman, Spiderman, Scooby Doo, today's western world has an increasing global appetite for the most engaging content, regardless of its cultural affiliation... In America today an estimated 30 per cent of the major children's animated programming is now Japanese animation," Devarajan said on the company's website.

Talking about the impact of India on American kids, Devarajan said "American teenagers wear clothing with Indian elements, accessorised with bindis on their foreheads, nose-rings and even henna on their head. Madonna and Jay-Z have incorporated Indian rhythms and lyrics in their music and Bend it like Beckham and Bombay Dreams have found strong audiences."

India's entry into the comic arena has meanwhile, given a new outlook to the work being done here... from an outsourcer to a source of innovative and dynamic creation and creators, said Seetharaman.

"With an eye on the rapidly evolving entertainment market (550 million kids under the age of 20 in next 10 years in India alone), Virgin Comics will strive to create properties infused with a mythic sensibility that resonates with readers and audiences around the world," he said.

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