New Delhi: Filmmaker Abhishek Sharma, who made the critically acclaimed movie ‘Tere Bin Laden’, has turned into a writer of comic strips with ‘Munkeeman’ and hopes to revive the popularity of the genre.
"Once upon a time, comics were quite popular (in India), but in the last few years, they hit rock bottom. They are on the rise again. This is thanks to the global exposure that children are getting," Sharma told reporters in an interview.
"Moreover, the content has improved, illustrations have improved and comics are extensively available in the digital domain. The progress is slow and steady."
Sharma started his comic strip writing with ‘Munkeeman’, whom he describes as a "dark superhero". The character is inspired by ‘Monkdy Man’ a strange monkey-like creature that terrorised people at night in east Delhi in 2001. This episode was a sub-plot in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra`s film ‘Delhi 6’.
"We launched the first part of `Munkeeman` last October. We will now launch the second part. The story shifts from Delhi to Kanpur, where Munkeeman meets his nemesis. The first part has been well-received so far," Sharma said.
However, the filmmaker said that unlike movies, it is not easy to earn instant money as new comics take time to become popular.
Hollywood is known for adapting comics into successful films like ‘Spiderman’, ‘Batman’ and ‘Captain America’. This trend is not prevalent in Bollywood and Sharma blames this on the disconnect between publishers and producers.
"There is a disconnect between publishers and producers. Such films are quite expensive to make. Moreover, there are few characters today which could be adapted for the big screen," he said.
"The 1980s and 1990s saw characters like Chacha Chowdhary and Nagraj ruling the roost but today, there aren`t any characters who can impress people. Hence there is hardly any audience for such films," Sharma added.
Another factor is that people only think of big stars in superhero roles and as a result, such films become very expensive to make.
"In India, there have been superhero movies like `Krissh` and `RA.One` with actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan playing the lead roles. However, in Hollywood it is completely the opposite. We are behind that but we are gradually progressing," Sharma explained.
Sharma`s 2010 film ‘Tere Bin Laden’, titled after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, dealt with the situation in the US after the 9/11 attack -- in a satirical and humorous manner. The director says he likes to tell stories that people can relate to.
"I love to entertain people with relatable issues with satire and farce, something which people can connect with. It brings me closer to my audience and I enjoy working on socially relevant issues," he added.
To that extent, Sharma`s comic strip his also deals with a social issue but he has no plans to turn it into a film anytime soon.
"I would love to make a film on `Munkeeman` but I am not trying to be over-ambitious I am enjoying the storytelling part and hope it helps contribute to the revival of comics," he said.