Four mysterious strangers meet in a restaurant high up in the Swiss Alps and plan how to get even with an Indian secret agent. And we have The Jungfrau Encounter, the first Agent Vinod graphic novel. The 90-page book published by Westland Ltd. should hit stores just before the film’s release. The book is the brainchild of star-producer Saif Ali Khan, a graphic novel buff himself.
“As Saif explains in the foreward, it’s not a publicity gimmick or an add-on, but a stand-alone book that introduces the characters to a larger audience,” explains publisher Paul Vinay Kumar, adding that writer Yogesh Chandekar did not slavishly follow the script but wrote an entirely original story.
Even designer-artist Saumin Patel did not adhere to the regular photo-realism to come up with a spitting image of Saif. “The likeness is there, but it’s not an exact replica,” says Paul. “We’d be happy to build this into an Agent Vinod franchise with Saif, but we can also take the character elsewhere into different scenarios.”
Director Sriram Raghavan, who’s written the afterword, admits that though the film starts off where the novel ends, it’s not a prequel. “Except for the first sequence in which I used some elements from the novel and the style, both of us having been working independently but in sync over the last one year, in an effort to take Agent Vinod beyond the movie. If the film works, we could flag off a popular fiction series that runs parallel with a movie franchise.”
Since it’s not a traditional art-house or serial superhero graphic novel and is affiliated to a mainstream Bollywood film, Paul’s hopeful of it generating curiosity and reaching out to a wider audience. However, he admits that priced roughly at R500 — R600, graphic novels are expensive, which is why the strategy was to lower the cost without compromising on the quality.
The Jungfrau Encounter will be available for R295 and is in full-colour, with the lettering done by London-based designer, Viraj Deo. It includes a dossier featuring developmental art, a mock-RAW assessment report and a look into its creative process. Says Paul, “We will put it up on amazon.com immediately and hope for big online sales.”