For the Tamil literary scene, this internal exchange within various art forms is a ray of light on the horizon.
The recent release of a Tamil digital graphic novel, possibly the first in the language, is a boost not just for Tamil literature, but also for writers in other regional languages.
Called “Sivappu Kal Mookuthi” the book also has an English version titled “Girl With a Red Nose Ring”.
Its author, filmmaker JS Nandhini, is most popularly remembered for her hit romantic comedy movie “Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru” which was produced by Sathyam Cinemes and released in 2009.
Although she has been in love with comic books forever, it’s something that she had never tried before. “I’ve always fancied comic books. I have loved movies, especially Avengers. But I loved independent comics with real life human stories in them more” she says.
It was after her previous script (a supernatural thriller) failed to pick up two years ago, that she made a conscious decision to try this new medium. “There are no middlemen out here. So I can make sure it reaches the audience,” Nandhini says.
Getting the book ready was not without its difficulties. “We got a lot of criticism initially,” she says, adding that it helped her and her team to work on improving their standards. “As a creator I cannot just sit back and wait for something to happen to me. I had to do something,” she says about the project that was completed it a month ago.
Based out of Chennai, the 37 year-old is an alumnus of the Film Institute of Chennai. Her first film Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru was one of the first in India to be digitally shot. Now, she has gone one step further and made a digital trailer for the comic book, which can be viewed on her website. The two versions of the book are available for download.
“I had to do something new to get the attention of readers,” she says adding that it is common practice for comic giants like Marvel and DC to make their own comic book trailers ahead of book releases.
Acknowledging that the diminishing print market was one of the reasons to avoid publishing a regular print comic book, Nandhini says: “Everything is going online now, and this is a bigger market.”
And she has bigger plans for her digital comic book. “I want to make it into a film,” she says claiming that if it did transpire with support, it would become the first comic book in India to be made into a film.
Comics into movies, movies into comics
The exchange has always been two-way. The list of comics characters have been turned into successful films is very long. It includes the latest 2015 superhero movie, Ant Man, which was first introduced in as a comics character way back in 1962. Others include the Avengers and Men in Blank, Alien vs Predator, Oblivion and The Mask.
A great example for the constant exchanges between various media of art is Game of Thrones. Originally a series of novels created by George R R Martin, the epic fantasy books have been equally successful as a hit TV series before and as graphic novels.
India is already home to its own creative space for upcoming talent in the comic industry with companies like Graphic India. Nandhini’s own inspiration has been Shekar Kapoor, a filmmaker who came up with the famous fictional character, Devi, which was published by Virgin Comics as a part of its Indian releases.
“Comics are made into books, and books into comics,” says Nandhini emphasizing on the vast market potential available. But she adds that this is a nascent genre in India that is still facing difficulties and needs more visibility and support in achieving the heights of creativity.
(Image courtesy: Girl with a red nose ring Facebook page)