Close on the heels of Sachin Tendulkar, who is likely to get a comic book based on him soon, is cricketer Yuvraj Singh, whose animated avatar will be the protagonist in the film Captain India. Singh is currently representing Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League, a team he captained in the first two seasons.
The animation film, which will be produced and distributed by Motion Pixel Corp., a Miami-based animation company, is about a young boy from Mumbai. The boy comes across a magic stick with special powers and uses it to help fight crime, even as he grows up to be an Indian cricket star and helps India win the cricket World Cup.
The animated film is currently in pre-production and is scheduled to be released in time for the World Cup in 2011, says Bunty Sajdeh, chief executive, Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, which manages talents such as Singh, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik.
Comic timing: Singh’s avatar will fight crime and win the World Cup. Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
“We have tried to promote brand Yuvraj as uniquely as possible. This project is one more opportunity for Yuvi to reach out to a wider fan base, especially children and their families,” says Sajdeh.
“We felt Yuvraj was the best fit for the project, which we think will be a mega hit with all the Bollywood and cricket fans not only in India but throughout the world,” says Manny Bains, chairman, Motion Pixel Corp., which focuses on the production of animation movies for Bollywood, in a press release.
Some experts believe that this strategy works best when done holistically. “You have to go the whole nine yards on branding,” says Suresh Seetharaman, president and founder of Liquid Comics and Liquid Studios, originally founded in 2006 as Virgin Comics, Llc. In 2007, the company had announced the launch of a series titled Sachin Tendulkar: Master Blaster.
“A comic book or one animated film may not be enough. It (the brand) should also be extended to other avenues such as gaming, theatrical, merchandise, among other things,” he says, adding that the series on Tendulkar, likely to be launched later this year, will include comic books, games and merchandise.
Internationally, comic books and animated films have been a great way for celebrities, especially sports stars, to connect with fans. Experts maintain that comic books and animated films about a superhero may work better when the subject is a legend to begin with.
“The opportunity exists, but only when you have reached a certain level,” says Venu Nair, chief executive officer for World Sport Group—South Asia, which manages cricketer Gautam Gambhir. “It has to be someone like a Sachin Tendulkar, a Sunil Gavaskar or Sir Don Bradman, they are considered legends. So it’s much easier to take that creative leap and feature them as superheroes with supernatural powers.”