The Robots of Dharma: Sweet Memory Must Die, which was launched couple of weeks back at Bangalore Comic Con by Syenagiri Group grabbed eyeballs of many thanks to its not so ordinary artwork by Jai Undurti and Stan Chou.
“I am a fan of Science-Fiction and have always wondered why the genre doesn’t have enough stories set in an Indian milieu. There are various reasons, for e.g., a post-apocalyptic setting in India would not faze too many Indians who already lead very tough lives! The big screen “space operas” which were popular in the 1930s would not surprise Indians who are steeped in our incredible myths whose power still resonates across millennia,” expounded Syenagiri, creative director Jai Undurti to AnimationXpress.com.
This graphic novel is set at a time where robots have all but displaced humans as the drivers of destiny. Ecological catastrophes mean that the planet has become increasingly uninhabitable for humans – while robots can very easily cope with such changes. The tension of the story springs from the dynamics of the interaction between the robots and the humans. The humans are resentful and mourn the lost way of life while the robots are more forward-looking and envision a day where they inherit the stars. Humans, in their perspective, are merely defective robots.
The art is done by the immensely talented Stan Chou, from New York. His intense black & white line-work was beautifully complemented by Neeraj’s (Pune) lovely colours. The book design has been handled by Aditi Dilip, from Bangalore. In the past Jai has also worked with Neeraj and Aditi on Hyderabad: A Graphic Novel.
The Robots of Dharma contains 18 pages and was priced at Rs. 100 during the Bangalore Comic Con. “The final graphic novel will be digital. The teaser episode we brought out in print was purely to raise the profile of the project. It is economically unviable to print as the distribution channels are very limited,” said he.
Unlike other comic creators, Jai’s target audiences are all the Indians who appreciate Sci-Fi. “This genre though immensely popular in our country does not have too many Indian setting, at least in English. Regional writers have been much more adventurous with it for e.g. in Bengali and Tamil. Sci-Fi is the literature of imagination and I am sure the “high concept” behind Robots of Dharma will appeal to anyone who is interested in a battle of ideas,” he exulted.
His last graphic novel on Hyderabad was well received. Syenagiri believes in exploring various towns. They work with the motto that ‘Every City is a Story’.
“Our idea is to grow each title and give it the attention it deserves. We want to take a city as the central character and weave together the stories, myths and interesting historical dramas that surround it. We are now working on Bangalore. We already have an amazing roster of talent including Appupen, Rupesh Arvindakshan and Prashant Miranda. Novelist Shweta Taneja is the editor of the series,” exclaimed Jai.
On the response he received from the Bangalore Comic Con Jai said: “The response at the Con was reasonable. Those who are already interested in Science-Fiction were enthusiastic. Others were curious and a few went ahead and purchased because they found the concept intriguing. The merchandise which was designed by Karan Talgeri of Whmsical also evoked a good response, especially the set of magnets.”