Sharad Devarajan has big plans for Stan Lee’s Indian debut ‘Chakra’
Sharad Devarajan is no stranger to the animation and comic book scene in India. He was responsible for bringing DC Comics, Marvel and the publishing activities of Cartoon Network to the country, and worked with Marvel on an Indian avatar of the Spider-Man in 2004, the first “trans-creation.” Devarajan is also launching a series on Bollywood superhero franchise Krrish.
He heads a U.S.-based digital entertainment company, Liquid Comics, which creates original graphic and animation content for various media. The company‚Äôs Indian arm, Graphic India, worked with Stan Lee‘s POW! Entertainment and developed the American cartoonist‚Äôs first Indian superhero, Chakra.
In an interview with India Insight, Devarajan defines his strategy and ambition for the newest superhero on the block. Edited excerpts:
How did Chakra happen? How did Stan Lee get involved?
I have had the great honour of knowing Stan for a number of years now and consider (him) a great mentor and friend. When I first started Graphic India, I went to Stan and his business partner Gill Champion for advice and shared with them our goal to spark a creative renaissance in the area of character entertainment bringing together creators from east and west to create new characters and heroes that would not only inspire Indian audiences but hopefully also speak to audiences around the world. I asked Stan if he would be interested in working with me and the amazing team of young Indian writers and artists at Graphic India to create a new superhero and he instantly saw the potential to take his unique brand of storytelling into a new market and do something unique.
Don‚Äôt you think just one TV feature is not enough if you want to give this new character wide exposure?
We don’t see ourselves as people in the comic book¬†or television business. We see ourselves as people in the storytelling business and¬†storytelling in all mediums is going through massive transformation. Beyond the movie with Cartoon Network, ‚ÄúChakra the Invincible‚ÄĚ will launch globally as one of a select few third-party content partners selected to be featured on Angry Birds through Rovio’s new ToonsTV platform making our Chakra digital animation series available worldwide in numerous languages.
Are quality comic books and digital animated series a cost-intensive affair in India with little returns?
Since I started my journey in this business years ago, I am thrilled to see that India‚Äôs character entertainment industry has continued to grow into vibrant eco-system of artists, writers and talent. But as a country we still have a long way to go. Character entertainment is a huge multi-billion dollar global industry and of that amount characters created by Indians or Indian-themed, represent just a micro-percentage of that global opportunity. Yet, we have a culture with some of the most mythic and rich storytelling the world has ever known and some of the greatest talent existing here in the country.
What is your realistic expectation from Chakra?
I don‚Äôt think any creator who makes superheroes for a living should set out with a ‚Äúrealistic expectation.‚ÄĚ We encourage our creators to be as unrealistic with their dreams as possible — aim big and try and transform the world. Beyond that, I hope Chakra and all the things we are doing at Graphic India will help spark excitement in the domestic character entertainment industry — encouraging more creators and artists to innovate and launch their stories.
(Editing by Robert MacMillan; Follow Shashank on Twitter¬†@shashankchouhan and Robert @bobbymacReports | Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)