Recently, Akshay Kumar launched a special edition of popular comic book series Chacha Chaudhary just before the release of his latest film, Boss. Titled Chacha Chaudhary And Boss, it has Akshay in a cartoon version of his Boss avatar and he went about solving problems with Chacha and his sidekick Sabu. Ranbir Kapoor, too, has announced a graphic novel on his upcoming detective film, Jagga Jasoos.
And now, the makers of R…Rajkumar, which has Sonakshi Sinha and Shahid Kapoor in the lead, are planning to launch an interactive comic book. “We have uploaded stills of our hero on Facebook and Twitter. Users can add their own pictures to it and make a new story,” says Viki Rajani, who has produced the film.
It has clearly become the norm for film-makers to come out with comic books just before their movie’s release. From Don 2 and RA.One (both 2011), to Agent Vinod (2012) and Krrish 3, there are several movies with graphic novels to their name. But do they really help a film?
It’s a PR activity
Makers admit that it’s just part of a marketing strategy and there are no commercial expectations from it. “We are not looking at it from a commercial point-of-view since Bollywood-centric graphic novels are not popular,” admits Rajani.
And despite the presence of several popular comic book series in Hindi and English, such as Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Chaudhary and Nagraj, film-maker Anubhav Sinha somehow feels that we “don’t have a comic book culture” in India. He says, “That’s the reason we don’t see a large number of Indian comic books. Urban kids, who have slowly started taking interest, prefer American graphic novels (sic).”
The other issue is timing. Most comic books release at a time when interest in the film has diminished. Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, “Film-centric comic books should be released before the movie comes out or on the day of release. Then it is worth it. Shah Rukh Khan released the RA.One graphic novel after the film hit theatres. By then, people didn’t care about it.”
However, there are a few who believe that if a movie-centric comic releases every week and there is a drastic change in the marketing strategy, there might be a market for them in a few years. “We need more comic books to be made to proclaim that we have succeeded in the market,” says Karan Vir Arora, founder, Vimanika Comics.