Keeping an age old promise of creating an Indian superhero, 2013 witnessed the birth of Raju Rai, a young Mumbai boy, a technological genius- India’s very own version of the friendly neighbourhood superhero.
Like wise men say, great superheroes and characters have for generations, been reflective of larger societal narratives. Starting from the era of the Cold War that largely influenced the quintessential Atomic Age idea of “Man Vs Science”, heroes were blessed with powers from mutations played on the unknown fears that was synonymous with radiation in that age. Similarly, Lee’s X-Men delved deep into issues such as racism and the themes of separatism which were often being reflected in the political dialogue of the Civil Rights Movement. And Graphic India believes that Chakra is hereto usher in a new generation of Indian superheroes.
Following the footsteps of the Postmodernist Superhero, readers will be exposed to familiar cultural beliefs, confusion and conflict. “On the Chakra character specifically, the concept of an Indian boy who wears a technologically enhanced suit that activates the mystical chakras is bridging the concepts of science and spirituality. This is a theme that resonates with people around the world as different societies try to reconcile the fast pace of our scientific breakthroughs with the ancient wisdom traditions of each culture,” explains Sharad Devarajan, CEO, Graphic India.
But with so many heroes to love already, will Lee’s new creation stand the test of time or die a death that only superheroes are known to die, forgotten on a dusty shelf? With the creators’ promise of introducing more villains and adventures in forthcoming episodes, we can only hold on to the words and hope that Raju does not get lost in a sea characterised by masks, capes and the superhuman abilities that help save the day.
And finally, excerpts from our interview with Stan Lee.
ST. A friendly neighbourhood superhero, Raju Rai is reminiscent of Peter Parker in his early days. Was this intentional?
SL: No I would never try to imitate Peter Parker, but I wanted to get a natural background and attitude for our young hero and it just seems like the logical way to do it.
ST: What was this journey like and what was your most memorable moment during the creation of Chakra?
SL: The journey was fascinating as it always is when creating a new character. One of the remarkable and memorable moments was when I realized I was becoming very interested in the story myself.
ST: To know a superhero is to love him… how true do you think this statement is?
SL: A superhero is usually the hero of the story and it’s important to love or at least care about the hero of the story. Otherwise, you’re not interested in what happens to him and you don’t worry about him. The reader should care about the hero and be worried about him. Therefore it’s very important that you love the superhero and that you follow his adventures hoping that he will triumph at the end.
ST: What three things do you dislike about superheroes?
SL: One thing I dislike is when a superhero wears a cape for no reason at all except to let the reader know he’s a superhero.
The second thing I dislike about certain superheroes is when the writer never tells you anything about their personal life. I like to know about the personal lives of the superhero what they do when they’re not fighting crime and so forth.
Third – I dislike superheroes who always resort to violence when there might be better ways to accomplish the same objective.
ST: Who are your three favourite superheroes of all time?
SL: Obviously I would say Spider-Man, Iron Man and all the Marvel heroes I love so much. But going back further to my childhood I thought three were great before we ever had costumed superheroes, the following three:
The Scarlet Pimpernel was one of the first movies I saw where the superhero was an intelligent, exciting, and interesting person who uses his brain more than his physical power.
Robin Hood because single-handedly he opposed a wicked ruler who had a wicked army at his disposal. He was able to get other people to his side and find a way to win.
Sherlock Holmes because just by using his intellect he was able to defeat the most dangerous and deadly villains of his time.