Sholoana Bangaliana: Please tell us something about yourself and Yali Dream Creations. What inspired you to get into the comic book business?
Asvin: Having been influenced by cartoons like those of Disney and Hanna Barbara since my kindergarten days, I took to doodling these characters. As I grew up, characters from comic books like Amar Chitra Katha, Marvel and DC were a great influence.
I am a die-hard fan of visual medium. So, creating graphic novels was not an act of providence or an accident. I am passionate about creating stories using this powerful medium called graphic novel. I had co-created and written a couple of graphic novels like ‘Dynast –The Rise of Bherek White’ and ‘Neelakshi:The Quest for Amrit’ two years ago. A friend suggested starting a company to bring all my graphic novels under one brand. Thus Yali Dream Creations was born in 2012.
Sholoana Bangaliana: We know you are originally from Chennai, Tamilnadu and settled in the U.S.A. What inspired you to produce a Graphic Novel which is based on a famous Bengali Novel and is very intrinsic to Bengali culture?
Asvin: Yes, given my upbringing and background, I was wetbehind the ears when it came to Bengali literature. When Shamik Dasgupta pitched this idea of retelling Bankim Chandra Chatterji’s Devi Chaudharani in graphic novel format, I was initially not receptive to the pitch since I wanted to create an original story, and not make an adaptation. But Shamik convinced me that the story echoed the ethos of the era of the British Raj in India, and that issues like gender inequality and caste system are present even today. As a publisher and investor, I strongly felt that Devi Chaudharani would do well in India.
Sholoana Bangaliana: How are you planning to market this Graphic Novel in India or possibly in the U.S. as well?
Asvin: Right now Yali Dream Creations (YDC) wants to focus only on India. Sensibilities of the Western market are different from what we have in India. To capture the American market, we would have to create stories that attract the American readers. Devi Chaudharani is not one of them. In India we are planning to market and promote it through online portal such as yours, social media, book fairs and comic cons. As a jump start, we are launching this graphic novel at Kolkata Book Fair, on Jan 29, 2014.
Sholoana Bangaliana: What other Graphic Novels have you produced? Can you give us a brief Idea of what they are about?
Asvin: YDC launched ‘The Caravan’ at the Bangalore Comic Con, June 2013. This book has a widespread distribution in India.
It is a mass- entertainer, a horror story that could become a Bollywood movie.
I had created two other graphic novels before I founded YDC.
Dynast was my first. The Dynast is a fantasy saga set in the far future. Humans had become extinct and felines ruled the world. The Arctic is a lush land, populated by intelligent lions, polar bears, and other species. Dynast: the Rise of Bherek White, the first of three Graphic Novels about the snow lion, Bherek White, who from humble beginnings rises to become the ruler of the world, and more.
I have plans to complete the series in a grand scale for a global audience.
My second graphic novel was ‘Neelakshi: The Quest for Amrit’. Neela, or Neil as she prefers to be called, is transported to the land of the demons where she is Neelakshi, the blue-eyed dark maiden of an ancient prophecy. Her quest is to obtain Amrit, the nectar of immortality and give it to the demons, who are not the evil creatures of myth. On the contrary, the demigods appear to lust for power more than the demons. Whether Neelakshi will obtain the amirt and will she give it to the demons is the story.
I hope to bring both these intellectual properties to India in 2014-15.
Sholoana Bangaliana: You live in the U.S., how are you planning to run the business here in India?
Asvin: This is a great question, a question I asked myself at the outset. So far my absence in place where the business is happening has not affected our production gravely. We have been aided by the right partners. But for the long term, we would have to establish clear planning and operations.
Sholoana Bangaliana: How are Yali Dream Creations Graphic Novels different from the books of other Graphic Novel and comic book companies of India? Are you following a certain trend or pattern in your stories?
Asvin: We are making mostly independent self-contained graphic novels with the vision of easy and smooth transference to a multimedia approach on various platforms, specifically films. Basically we are creating future films in the pages of our graphic novels; each book is designed like a film with three distinct acts, visual elements and cinematic storytelling. This is something no other Indian company seems to be doing. Some companies are making comic adaptations of classics, while other companies are into Superheroes. YDC, on the other hand, creates stories for films and is in the process of selling the rights. All our books are independent and ready for transformation into movies. Our company model is more like Radical Comics than DC, Marvel or Dark Horse.
Sholoana Bangaliana: We are told Devi Chaudhurani is a two part Graphic Novel. What can we expect from the second part?
Asvin: We are gunning for late 2014 or early 2015 for the release of Book 2.The readers can expect more action and drama in Book 2, as Book 1 had to establish the characters, background etc. A word of caution to the readers! To an enormous extent, as in most creative adaptations, it branches itself off from its source and journeys on its own. Straight translation from one medium to another is both impossible and undesirable.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Apart from Devi Chaudhurani what other books and properties are you working on?
Asvin: We have in the pipeline a few projects, like ‘Scions of the Cursed King’, ‘Warpath of Kings’ and ‘Kandiva’.
Sholoana Bangaliana: Tell us something about your creative force. Do you have a studio here in India? Where are your people working from?
Asvin: Right now, no one in the team works full time for the company yet. All of us work from our homes as freelancers. As for the chief contributors, I am from California, U.S.A, Shamik Dasgupta is from Kolkata, Bikash Satpathy (artist) works from Orissa, and Vishwanath Manokaran (Colorist) works from Chennai. Internet is the wonderful medium that brought us together. Sooner or later, one of us will be working full-time to take care of the operations.
Sholoana Bangaliana: What is the vision of Yali Dream Creations? Where do you see yourself as an organization five years from now?
Asvin: Well, we would be a recognizable force in India and beyond and would have made inroads into the movie industry too. We would entertain people by bringing out books and films with great regularity and quality. We would be a part of the change, provide opportunities to writers and artists in India and around the globe.
Yali Dream Creations Owner Asvin Srivatsangam has masterminded the Graphic Novel Revolution in India and their latest creation Devi Chaudhurani is sure to be an instant hit with readers from across the globe.