Not Just a Gimmick

In their continuing battle against crime,inspector Jay Dixit and his aide Ali Akbar are this time pitted against the Yakuza,Japan’s organised crime syndicate.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Published: July 27, 2012 1:35:38 am

In their continuing battle against crime,inspector Jay Dixit and his aide Ali Akbar are this time pitted against the Yakuza,Japan’s organised crime syndicate. After murdering a few prominent businessmen in the city,the Yakuza set up a trap to kill Jai and Ali to avenge their associate’s death. However,the duo,in a display of both wit and valour,take on the criminals and emerge winners. The story should not be mistaken for the plot of Dhoom 3,the third film of Yash Raj Films’ (YRF) popular action franchise,Dhoom. Titled 893,it instead makes for the first comic book in the series Dhoom Redux that will be based on Jai and Ali’s adventures as part of YRF’s comic books,called Yomics. Part of this venture is also Saving the High Seas,the first of Ek Tha Tiger series,based on the production house’s upcoming release by the same name.

The launch of graphic novels or comic books based on films is a trend that is picking up in Bollywood. While Shah Rukh Khan can be credited for starting the trend with a comic book series based on his superhero avatar in Ra.One,it was followed up by Farhan Akhtar who brought out Don: The Origin. It provides a back story to the character Don from his remake of the 1978 classic by the same name. The Jungfrau Encounter (Rs 95),based on Saif Ali Khan’s spy character in Agent Vinod,came out in March this year. Director Prakash Jha too intends to launch a series based on his next film Chakravyuh.

Relying heavily on India’s obsession with cinema and stars,film maker are hoping to push their films into the audience’s conscience. Jha explains that comic books are an effective tool for reaching out to the youth — a growing movie audience. Saif believes that action-driven plots lend themselves well to the comic book format and hence,characters such as Agent Vinod can engage the audience. “A three-hour film can only offer a glimpse into Agent Vinod’s life. But the comic book offers a back story and brings to the fore his characteristics,” he says. Similarly,Ra.One’s nine-part online series,as a countdown to the film’s release,told the superhero G.One’s back story.

The trend may be driven by a surge in action films,but Jha believes that other genres can also use the format as long as they have strong characters and engaging plots. “Our series is based on current events,such as the recent raids on Mumbai’s nightlife spaces by police official Vasant Dhoble. We use these events to introduce our characters and their ideology,” Jha says. However,while others have launched their products in book format,Jha’s series will be available exclusively on web. Chopra,the editor-in-chief of Yomics,seconds Jha’s belief that genres beyond action work for the format. Alongside Dhoom Redux and Ek Tha Tiger,he has launched a romcom series Hum Tum and Daya Prochu that centres on a mischievous boy. “Most people use comics as a tool to market their films,but I am using films to nurture the culture of graphic art,” says Chopra. He will soon introduce a title based on one of his filmmaker-father Yash Chopra’s “iconic” films as well as a few non-film titles. New editions of each title — priced at Rs 99 — will release in both Hindi and English every fortnight. The content will also be available in a digital format and regional languages.

With improvement in quality of art work,the strategy sounds promising. But very few of these comic books rise above the status of a marketing gimmick. Ra.One series — of mediocre quality — was lost in the many promotions. Don:The Origin,priced at Rs 95,found limited takers in film enthusiasts. The Jungfrau Encounter released only a few days before Agent Vinod’s release and the film’s box-office performance didn’t help either. “Success of comic books depends on continuous production. One or two editions before the film’s release are gimmicks,” says Jai Saxena of BPI India,the publisher of Yomics. “Audience gets hooked only after reading multiple stories and assured of quality storytelling,” he concludes.

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