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BW Businessworld

'People Of All Ages Will Get Something Out Of These Books'

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Uday Chopra has donned several roles in Bollywood. He has been an actor, assistant director, producer, writer and has even worked for an animation film. In fact, the 39-year-old scion of Yash Raj Films was never short of opportunities. And he is experimenting with another different role now: producing comics. Chopra’s company has launched of Yomics, a series of graphic novels targeting adults and kids alike. In an e-mail interview with BW Online's Sanjitha Rao Chaini, Chopra talks about the character Daya Prochu (anagram of Uday Chopra) and whether Yomics is more than a marketing drive for movies.
 
 
Why graphic novels now?
There is no real time to introduce the culture of graphic novels to India. A niche culture has been here already, but I want to bring it to the mainstream. And it is now I found the right people to partner with and take my vision forward.
 
Is there a good market for graphic art or comics in India?
It is very limited, as far as our research goes. The comic book culture started in India during the 1950s, and peaked and then petered out by the early part of the new millennium. Today, it has been replaced by various other means of entertainment and publishers are struggling to compete with other electronic media. I want to change that and hopefully convince a new generation that not only is graphic art 'cool' and 'fun' but it is also 'Not Just For Kids' (Yomics’ tagline).
 
How difficult was it to put the book together?
It was fairly easy once I found the right studio to partner with. Division 91, which did the artwork, has a bunch of people who are as passionate about this medium as I am. They were able to put together the novel at a fairly decent pace and a workable cost so that my risk could be as low as possible. They did it without compromising on quality.
 
Who is Daya Prochu?
It is a character I came up with one day when I was just feeling particularly bored. Sometimes, boredom has its uses. Anyway, so I was on Twitter and wanted to say a few things I thought might sound a bit too pedantic or philosophical coming from me, so I created a new ID called Daya Prochu, which is an anagram of my name and started tweeting as him. I noticed that people started really enjoying what Daya had to say and so I took this forward and started having fun with it on Twitter. I even made a few rudimentary comics using some apps on my iPhone. Suffice it to say, when I started to think of launching Yomics, it was natural for me to try putting Daya out there as a fresh new character that hopefully would be liked as much as he was on Twitter.
 
What is the response you have received so far?
People have reacted very positively to all the Yomics titles. Daya is getting a lot more interest than I imagined, which I guess is great!
 
A book store owner in my neighbourhood did not know what to do with the copies of Yomics and whom to sell it to -- adults or children. Do you think graphic art/comics are yet to take off in India?
That is the mindset I am trying to overcome. People think comics are for children and it will take some time for adults to get convinced that this is for their own entertainment. The idea is to keep at it and to stories and other material out there that will appeal to not just kids but people of all ages.
 
I think people of all ages will get something out of these books. Kids, of course, will enjoy it but anyone who watches our movies or who are fans of titles such as Dhoom or excited about our forthcoming releases such as Ek Tha Tiger can find that they can still get a glimpse of these worlds they have loved, albeit through an entirely new medium of comics/Yomics.
 
How did you decide on the Rs 99 price tag?
This was arrived at by consulting with our publishing partner BPI and also studying the current prices for similar content. I wanted to give readers something high in quality and, yet, keep to the price they were used to paying. Hopefully, we have managed to do both.
 
Is Yomics a part of marketing drive for movies or vice versa?
No. If anything, it can be vice versa. That is, use the power of movies to market Yomics, but eventually I see this as an exciting and unexplored medium to tell stories. This is a completely different vertical.
 
What next? Will you limit these graphic arts to YRF products?
I have just started this venture, so I need to be flexible. I will naturally use YRF productions to begin with, but later on I want to create absolutely original content. I am also open to tying up with other brands, be it movies or otherwise, who want to dabble in this wonderful medium and bring it some much-needed excitement again. 
 
sanjitha (dot) bw (at) gmail (dot) com