Indian superhero 'Chakra' eyes international viewers and revenues

Come November 30, an Indian superhero will begin his journey to conquer the world. Raju Rai, a regular Mumbai boy with mystical abilities, sets out to save the city and the world from super villains! Raju wants to win the hearts of not just kids in Mumbai and Delhi but also those in Bangkok and Boston.

Chakra: The Invincible, the first-ever India superhero saga, created by Stan Lee, the legendary writer and creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, Hulk and The Avengers, will premiere on Cartoon Network on November 30.

“I thought it would be exciting to bring my style of superhero storytelling to India and collaborate with the amazing artists there. India is so philosophical and rich in tradition and morality,” the US-based Stan Lee told Hindustan Times via e-mail.

According to Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Graphic India, the company that is bringing Raju Rai to life — first in the form of a comic, then as an animated character and finally, if all goes according to plan, as a feature film — the global market for superhero comics and related franchising is worth $100 billion ( Rs. 6.2 lakh crore). India’s share: less than Rs. 1,000 crore.

“The Indian market is at a nascent stage but it is growing at a double digit rate,” said Krishna Desai, senior director, South Asia, Turner International India, which runs popular kids channels Cartoon Network and Pogo.

“India is perfectly positioned for superhero characters to make their mark. The massive numbers — 550 million under the age of 25 — and the massive digital explosion will be the real drivers,” said Devarajan.

Experts said revenues from superhero comics and related animated and live action TV and film productions, currently at about Rs. 700 crore in India, will grow exponentially once the market for gaming, merchandising and mobile apps based on comic characters matures in this country.

Graphic India has roped in big names for its productions. Its female superhero, Devi, is created by film maker Shekhar Kapur, while Sadhu, another superhero, has been created by Gotham Chopra, son of self-help guru Deepak Chopra.

Right now, the only Indian comic character with a global franchise is Turners’ Chhota Bheem, aired in six countries.