Ramayan 3392 AD – India comics in Los Angeles

India has a richer and more diverse collection of stories than any European or Middle Eastern culture or country. That is probably the result of a continuous, unbroken culture over the past 5,000 years. Every Indian child grows up being told these stories and reading them.
A decade or so ago, many of these stories were picturized in a series of comics called Amar Chitra Katha or Immortal Picturised Stories. Even purists like us loved the Chitra Katha series.

Now we learn from Candace Jackson of the Wall Street Journal that The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (“Lacma“) is launching a new exhibit this Saturday. Lacma has an extensive collection of ancient Indian paintings. The new exhibit will relate these paintings to modern Indian comics that will be on  display.

We include some excerpts from the article by Candace Jackson:

  • The museum, known as Lacma, is billing “Heroes and Villains: The Battle for Good in India’s Comics” as the first major museum exhibit of Indian comics. The exhibit includes 18 paintings from its permanent collection. Some items dating back to the 16th century, along with current comic books and pages by Indian cartoonists. While the comic books on display don’t have much in common visually with the ancient paintings, they borrow storylines and characters from the traditional paintings.
  • The 21st-century comics take “divine mythologies and turn them into secular superheroes,” says Julie Romain, the show’s curator. Like American characters, the Indian heroes have exaggerated muscles and elaborate armor, and sexy heroines in body-hugging clothes.

Ramayan is the oldest and most revered of all Indian epics. So we were intrigued by the title Ramayan 3392 A.D. This is a comic book series created by Deepak Chopra and Shekhar Kapur, the famed director of “Elizabeth” and our favorite “Masoom”.  This series is produced by Liquid Comics, which is run by Sharad Devarajan and Mr. Chopra’s son Gotham. They have a studio in Bengaluru and headquarters in New York & Los Angeles, the WSJ article states.

Liquid CEO Mr. Devarajan says he aims to bring Indian stories to a global audience much like Pokemon brought Japanese animation worldwide. He says the company has signed deals to make a videogame of “Ramayan” and a film. “Most people don’t see it and think it’s an Indian tale. They think it’s a universal tale,” he says. That is the magic of India. Everything that is really Indian is also universal.

Thank you Candace Jackson & The Wall Street Journal for bringing this exhibit to our attention.

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