Shah Rukh Khan is truly the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’, after giving so many hits over the years SRK is highly in demand. He already had a wax statute at Madame Tussauds London, but now he also has a 3D printed figurine gifted by his Redchillies.VFX team and Autodesk; now there is a graphic novel, Atharva being made by Chennai based Virzu Studios that is inspired by SRK. Virzu Studio was founded in 2013 as a collaborative venture between Ramesh Thamilmani, an architect and managing director of Chennai based BLD Design Studio; Vel Mohan, correspondent of Velammal Education Trust and Sanjay Raghavan, an actor & singer along with Ramesh Archarya, an artist and illustrator. “We think of graphic novels as a medium of entertainment, with the right presentation and production value giving the reader the potential to experience the story with vividness at par or greater than that of a feature film. We are experimenting with a first of its kind layout and design with separate text and detailed full page illustrations to give readers an experience like never before and challenge their perception of what a graphic novel can be,” reveals Virzu Studio, co-founder Ramesh Thamilmani to AnimationXpress.com. Atharva: The Origin, is a graphic novel and a debut venture, in association with Vincent Adaikalaraj, a noted entrepreneur and Ashok Manor of Ruby Builders. It is a mythological fictional graphic novel and a story of a young king who sets out to uncover his destiny. The makers claim that the type of novel Atharva is can be compared to the popular Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series. Set on a vast island landmass in a forgotten past, the story is populated by fantastical birds, beasts and monsters, inventions of the collaborative efforts of the author and artist. There are no factual historical or religious mythological references in the story. The idea for the novel took birth when Ramesh Archarya approached Thamilmani in 2013 with some illustrations, and a kernel of an idea to develop them and put them together in a comic book. Thamilmani took great interest in his work and decided to collaborate with the artist and debut as an author. Both gentlemen having a background of the visual arts saw the project as an interesting and innovative way to modernise the graphic novel and bring to life their own unique vision. It was the maker’s belief that the character of Atharva and the personality of King Khan were the perfect match and fortunately, Khan showed interest and enthusiasm in the project as soon as it was presented to him. Chronicling the journey of the titular Atharva, the text will be accompanied by full page illustrations in 3D. Thamilmani explains: “All the conceptual artwork by Archarya had Shah Rukh Khan essaying the titular character from its inception and it was Virzu Studio’s pleasure and good fortune that the project was met with approval by him and his team. All creative decisions have so far remained with Virzu Studios and enjoyed support and encouragement by Red Chillies Entertainment.” The novel will be around 300 pages with distinct text and full page illustrations. The company has planned to bring out the print version of the novel in various formats and they will be priced between Rs 600 to Rs 1500. In addition, the book will be available in e-book, smart TV and Kindle formats. “We are in the process of finalising a publisher and do plan to have a worldwide release. There will be well planned publicity campaigns across the internet, print and radio mediums in the follow-up to the release of the book and after,” adds Thamilmani. The book has been in development since 2013 with a team of researchers, writers and illustrators headed by Thamilmani and Archarya. It will be completed and launched in mid 2015. The teaser received over a million views on YouTube in a week from its release. The trailer for the novel will be released shortly before the book releases. The teaser was released as an inventive eyeball grabber for the first look of the project. With general book readership on the decline why create a graphic novel, Thamilmani expounds: “We felt the need for an innovative campaign to spread awareness about our venture. In addition, since we are a studio with plans to undertake animation film projects, the teaser provided the perfect first opportunity to test our strengths and weaknesses in this regard.” For now, the graphic novel exists as a standalone project with no sequels planned. Talks about a movie based on the book are on, but unconfirmed. “We shall plan a release strategy once the project is completed. For now, we wish to complete and release Atharva, the graphic novel in the best possible manner. Talks about the movie are on but no details have been finalised as yet,” ends Thamilmani.