Punjabi James Bond: The Super Sikh

  • Khushwant Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 08, 2015 12:17 IST

Déjà vu should I say? Something that I had been contemplating to create over the years had suddenly caught the media’s attention. Confused? I am talking about the Super Sikh comics for children launched recently by Silicon Valley-based senior financial executives Supreet Manchanda and Eileen Alden. Supreet is a venture capitalist, while Eileen is a portfolio manager.

It’s interesting and amusing about how I was sure that if I failed to accomplish my desire to create a Sikh Super hero, it would only be a matter of time before someone else conceptualised it and he or she would be from the Silicon Valley, California. No, I am not saying why I didn't get to create a Punjabi James Bond, as I am rather thrilled that someone has actually gone ahead and developed the idea, which looks sustainable. For example, the Sikh Super Hero is a highly trained Indian security agent, wears a turban and loves Elvis over Honey Singh. Though I am yet to lay my hands on the comic, initial reports indicate that it is not an over-the-top one.

Supreet and Eileen’s team seem to have maintained the right balance to ensure mainstream commercial success.

Replacing cape with turban

Given the circumstances in the US, where Sikhs are being continuously targeted racially because of their turbans, beards and scarves, this comic should aspire nothing short of mainstream American readership to generate more awareness about Sikhs. "Having closely watched the level of aggression and bullying against Sikhs here, we wanted a positive role model for kids and this has been in the works for many years,” Supreet told me via email.

Of course, replacing the Men, with Singh is going to be a challenge, but it's not impossible. It would be like telling Superman, Batman, and Spiderman to make way, for here comes Deep Singh. But as long as the plot, content and the script are powerful, relevant and make the right connect, it's not rocket science to replace the cape or mask with a turban.

Strong message

Talking about the new Sikh Super Hero, Deep Singh is a trained Indian agent and simply hates the ‘bad’ guys. Modern in his outlook; his name, dress, ethics, actions and values are inspired from the Sikh religion. For example, he gets his name from the legendary Sikh martyr Baba Deep Singh who in 1657 lead a mission against Afghan ruler Ahmad Shah Durrani, to avenge the desecration of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Golden Temple. No wonder in the first edition, the turbaned Sikh Super hero is shown taking on none other than the Taliban who are tailing him in an attempt to kill him. Strong message, both from a historical perspective as well as the contemporary times since it will help the kids from the west differentiate the Sikhs from the Taliban - of how different a value system the two follow despite similar appearances.

Deep Singh, in his fight against the evil follows the principle of ‘Sant Sipahi’, literally meaning Warrior Saint, as espoused by the 6th Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind and later by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

Will Drug mafia be next assignment?

Good luck to Supreet and Eileen who have chosen a comic strip path to show the triumph of good over evil. Personally, I would like to encourage them but critique at the same time should they start floundering.After the English edition, they plan to spread the message further by bringing out the comics in Punjabi, Spanish and Mandarin in the digital format. For the illustration part, the duo have collaborated with Delhi-based award-winning illustrator Amit Tayal, who has got it bingo.

Deep Singh, when do you plan to tackle the drug mafia of Punjab? khushwant.ahluwalia@gmail.com

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