Gabbar gets booked
The run-up to India’s biggest comic carnival, Comic Con India, has already kicked off in the capital with the recently held “Heroes Night” and “Villains Night” seeing enthusiastic youngsters turning up dressed as their favourite heroes and anti-heroes.
The baddies are coming good not only on the silver screen, but are now also the protagonists of comic books and graphic novels. The new hero whose story is now narrated in graphic detail — India’s most menacing and legendary cinematic villain, Gabbar.
Jatin Varma, the founder of Comic Con India, feels the Indian comic book industry is all set to enter the global scene. He says, “It’s difficult to keep milking the same old mythology and history formula. And it serves as a challenge, and an opportunity, for the new entrants to experiment and come up with new stories and concepts. There are new stories being told like that of the dark series Aghori, or Odayan, the mysterious criminal and vigilante expert in South Indian martial arts. A story about the past of Sholay’s Gabbar is being explored in graphic novel format.”
Graphic India, in collaboration with Sholay Media and Entertainment, has come out with a graphic novel on the past of Gabbar. On the anvil are books on other popular Sholay characters. Soorma Bhopali, Sambha and Thakur are also going to have their stories told in comic format.
Sascha Sippy, chairman of Sholay Media and Entertainment, feels that the designers and conceptual writers have done a good job to keep the identity of the characters intact. “Even though the novel explores the early years and back-story of Gabbar, the character is still very much in tune with the movie,” he says.
Sumit Saini, an ardent Sholay fan who works with an IT firm in Gurgaon, is excited about the idea. He shares, “It’s an exciting idea. I can now know better the characters I have admired for so many years. And Gabbar tops the list. He’s a legend. To think of it, we don’t know why is it that jab door door tak koi bachcha rota hai toh uski ma kehti hai chup ho ja warna Gabbar aa jayega. Hope I get the anwer to it in the graphic novel.”
Though the concept of exploring negative and dark characters is fairly popular in the West, India has so far not warmed up to them. Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Graphic India, says, “For me, Sholay is as iconic and defining a film for Bollywood as Star Wars was for Hollywood — and following that thought, Gabbar is our Darth Vader, the greatest villain in Indian cinematic history. Just as fans around the world wanted to see the back story of characters like Vader, I think there is always a fascination about understanding what makes great villains become who they are, as much as what goes into the making of great heroes,” he says.
Sharad believes India is on the threshold of a great era in graphic novels and comic books, and all we need is one path-breaking story. “I believe the way the West has created superheroes or Japan, Korea and China have exported their anime, manga, manhwa and original styles of storytelling to the world, India has the potential to become one of the biggest creative exporters in the years ahead. The next J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg or Stan Lee is sitting somewhere in India and our responsibility is to find these talents, nurture them and give them the training, resources and belief in themselves to take their ideas to the world,” he adds.