What got Yomics started?
It’s been a passion for years. I have always enjoyed reading comics. I had a fair amount of time on my hands, so I started writing stories and then I thought that some of the stories could be turned into comics. Like the adventures of Ali (Uday’s character from the Dhoom series) before he met Jai (played by Abhishek Bachchan). So, I started making storyboards with an in-house artist. But when I approached artists and studios to figure out if we would make these comics commercially, it didn’t make commercial sense. So, I put the idea on a backburner. Fortunately, after a bit of a break, I managed to find the right partner and that’s how Yomics came into being.
There is a perception in India that comics are for kids. How are you planning on changing that?
If you notice, our tagline is ‘Not just for kids’. We did a lot of R&D and we found that the market for comics is very niche. Everyone knows that the market for books is constantly decreasing because people are not reading as much. Within the books market, comics are a miniscule part. Adult comic readers are only interested in international titles. Indian comics that are being sold are badly produced and have almost no market.
I want to make comics cool again. We are going to introduce readers to a range of titles that we think will appeal to a cross-section.
Yomics has titles that are inspired from Yash Raj’s hit films. Why did you decide to piggyback on YRF and not create new characters?
Movies are the biggest form of entertainment in India. Everything to do with movies sells. I am just using these films to promote my comics. The idea is that the reader already knows the films, now he has the option to see the same characters in a different story. If you’ve loved Jai and Ali or Tiger, you will be tempted to pick up the comics.
|With Bipasha Basu in Dhoom:2
You are entering unchartered territory; do you have a time-frame to get people interested in comics?
In about six months, I should have a sense of whether Yomics has been able to make a difference in the comics market. During this period, we will continue adding titles to our catalogue. After about a year, I hope to introduce characters that are independent of our movies.
You have been involved with writing the first two titles...
Yes and I had fun doing it. I had written Pyaar Impossible!, so as far as I was concerned, I was writing a movie. The only difference was that the explanation that I had to write for every panel had to be as detailed as possible so the artists knew what to draw.
What kind of comics did you read while growing up?
As a kid, I read Archies, Asterix, Tintin, Mandrake, Phantom and Bahadur. I remember my parents buying me omnibuses of Superman and Batman comics. These days, I’ve been reading the new Iron Man, Avengers, among others. I have never been a collector but I have friends who are.
You launched your international production arm YRF Entertainment earlier in the year. What is happening on that front?
Our first film The Longest Week that stars Olivia Wilde and Jason Bateman should release by year-end. We are looking at taking it to film festivals before that. Our second film is Grace of Monaco that stars Nicole Kidman and it goes on the floor on September 11. When we decided to produce films in Hollywood, I realised that the best material that’s doing the rounds there will first go to the bigger studios. I decided that it’s important that we develop our own stories and there are so many stories from here that can work for Western sensibilities. The first story that we are developing is Bunty Aur Babli. It’s currently in the scripting stage.
2012 is a busy year for you because you are also going to start shooting Dhoom again.
Yes! There is just so much going on this year but that’s a good thing because I am making up for the last three years where I didn’t do much. I am looking forward to facing the camera again but I am also nervous. It’s been a while and I am worried about whether I can still deliver (laughs).
There seems to be lot happening on your personal front as well. There has been talk of link-ups with both Parineeti Chopra and Nargis Fakhri...
It’s a classic case of people’s imaginations working overtime. They are just friends. Also, I have never spoken about my personal life and I am not going to start doing that now.
So, you are not the industry’s latest playboy?
(Laughs) Absolutely not. I don’t even know where that’s come from.