Monthly Archives: October 2006

The Slimes of India plagiarises

Well, it’s not such a breaking news, but this letter that Dilip reproduces is hilarious !

Surely, the reporters and editors of the famed Times Group can come up with quizzes by themselves? Besides, by leaving out the trumpet cleaning story, would you have deprived thousands of Bombay Times readers of a richer morning read? If I could detect three cases in an hour of casual reading, how many more such cases are just begging to be discovered? And for heaven’s sake, if you care so much to tell people about trumpet cleaning or advise them on how to be devoted husbands but don’t know who to ask, why don’t you just pay for the article or at least acknowledge it?? Or don’t run it at all.

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Indian name for Orkut

…should be Aur-Court !

Check these nonsense things happening, I tell you !

Soliciting on sexed-up Orkut

India Court Issue Notice to Google on Orkut Hate Campaign

Thankfully, now Orkut Can Breath Free

Review of Ramayan 3392 AD, Virgin Comics

Ramayana 3392 AD was promised by writer Shamik Dasgupta to be:

Sadhu is good, but just wait and watch for Ramayan Reborn (Now Ramayan 3392 AD). It will simply blow the minds off, India has never seen Ramayan like this I can assure that much…since I am the writer.[:)] you wanted a retelling of the Amar Chitra Katha…now read the retelling of the oldest and greatest epic in the world. Jai Shree Rama.

In a lot of ways it does not fulfil the promise. The story has been retold with a fairly futuristic approach and yet a lot of old elements have been retained.

The future in the story is not a very optimistic future. There has been an apocalyptic war and the ecology was destroyed. Earth is surrounded by a radioactive haze and humans only live at Armagarh in the Aryavarta continent where they have managed to penetrate the haze and get some sunlight. In the other parts of Aryavarta live ‘anthropomorphic’ beings like Vanaras, Garudas and others.

To the south lies the continent of Nark, hellish in all senses as the name implies. Ruled by Ravana who is a creature spawned by the apocalypse and who seeks to establish his rule over the Aryavarta kingdom too.

The kingdom of Armagarh (not Ayodhya) which is ruled by Chief Councilor Dasarath who has four sons – Rama and Lakshmana from the deceased queen Kaushalya and Bharat and Shatrughan by Kaikeyi – the story tries to give a reason for Lakshman’s bonding with his blue-skinned elder brother, the reason being tied to blood relations. He is more hot-headed, outspoken and resentful of his step-mother and for his father’s lack of time.

Kaikeyi unlike the Kaikeyi of the traditional epic is no sullen queen in the kop-bhavan sulking. She is empowered as she is a councilor in the kingdom’s governing council. She is also quite a racist, believing the humans should not join forces with other beings.

It would be interesting to explore racism in the Ramayan 3392 AD setting. Would some parallels be drawn to today’s stratified society. That would actually be hopeful to expect from the comics. On the other hand the use of the word
Kshatriyas for warriors and use of Aryavarta for the ‘civilized’ continent might actually reinforce caste and cultural stereotypes.

The story opens with the Armagarh council debating how to combat Ravan’s Asura army and it is decided to send the four sons to the outposts of the kingdom. Rama and Lakshman get posted to the comparatively ‘safe’ place of
Janasthan which is underdeveloped. A reader might draw parallels with present day Bihar (as Lakshman says “Why don’t they understand, lack of necessity does not mean lack of initiative for progress?”), and since the rustics there insist on calling him Lachchman 🙂

No sooner have they reached that they realise that the outpost is under attack by an army of Asuras led by Ravan himself.

The graphics are a quite disappointing. For whatever reasons, close-ups of the protagonists do not convey the intensity of the story as much as the graphics of the landscapes do. With the exception of Lakshman, whose distinctive red markings on the face help in conveying his anger with his parents much more eloquently than his expressions.

The final full page graphic shows Ravan who looks more like a beast than his traditional ten-headed humanoid form.

 

The question that it leaves one with is – would Ravan be shown as unidimensionally as the artwork suggests – in future issues? One hopes not. Ravan’s character is the epic is wonderfully diverse and rich. Ramayan 3392 AD’s success would lie in making both Rama’s and Ravan’s character multidimensional and not caricatures like Ramanand Sagar’s teleserial.

Curiosity makes one looks forward to the rest of the story. Where would Sita come in? And everybody’s favorite monkey god, Hanuman? Does this Rama have divine nature and will it be revealed? And how will the stories be radically different from Ashok Banker’s series of Ramayana?

Review of Devi, Virgin Comics

Devi, after Sadhu, is the newest offering by Virgin Comics. It tells the story of Gods, who have been defeated by a fallen God called Bala. Shades of Lucifer? Bala was different from the other Gods, as he grew more powerful from imposing his will on humans. So much so that the Gods each sacrificed a part of themselves to create Devi (inspired by the myth of Shakti), who inhabits the body of a warrior woman of the Durapasya, the humans who fight along the Gods.

 

Devi does defeat Bala, but Bodha, the king of the Gods decides not to kill him, but lock him up in Jwala, the prison of fire and stone.

From these mythical times the story moves to modern day Japan, where a female assassin fights Japanese Ninja gangsters while recieving a call from someone who wants to employ her services.

 

The assasin is Kratha, an apsara, whom Bala wants to employ to kill Devi.
The battle of the Gods will move to earth, and one really looks forward to the story’s next part.

Unlike The Sadhu, there is not too much metaphysical and philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but plain action and delicately made graphics by Mukesh Singh. Colours are bright but add to the story rather than distact from it.

Siddharth Kotian’s script is tight and those looking for Indian mythology echos would be a trifle disappointed. Devi is pure fantasy, except for that reference to Durga and Shakti mentioned earlier. I only hope that readers in India do get to see it soon.

Cross posted at Desicritics

Virgin Comics not available in India?

Sathish is wondering if the much hyped Virgin Comics is available at all in India. Even a couple of readers mailed me that they have searched in Mumbai and Delhi and haven’t been able to get their hands on it.

If Chopra, Kapur and Branson wanted it to be “export-only” commodity (for some tax sops??) then maybe they should have told us !

Ashok Banker in response to Sathish’s post says:

Incidentally, I can confirm that I am writing a very long epic story for DC’s VERTIGO division based on Indian myth, but set in contemporary times. it’s an original story and is as yet-untitled. I have worked on it for almost two years now, but unlike Virgin I haven’t hyped it anywhere. I am hoping VERTIGO will see fit to launch it in India too at an affordable price for us desi comic fans.