'Dhoom 3 is a boy's thing'
Uday Chopra has launched his new label of comic books Yomics... Not Just for Kids with the wish to revive the Indian comic industry. TWF correspondent Sreya Basu catches up with the actor-director in Mumbai as he speaks about his new venture and Dhoom 3
How excited were you about comics as a kid?
As a kid I had my passion for the comic book space. It used to be great fun and there used to be a lot of joy in it. This was my passion since childhood. Me and my friends like Abhishek Bachchan used to sit in my father's (filmmaker Yash Chopra) garden and enact all his films and have our own characters.
So that passion made you come up with Yomics?
I was thinking about launching a comic title for four-five years. I first thought of creating a character out of Ali (his screen name in Dhoom and Dhoom: 2) and calling it Adventures of Ali. You see I had a lot to time those days and I sat down to write a script for it. Then I sat with a storyboard artist who used to work at YRF (Yash Raj Films, production house) and said, 'Let's create an impromptu comic book with the speech that bubbles at the moment.' So we had a little bit of comic book going between us at that moment, after which I thought of finding artists and see if I can produce this comic. But at that time the costs (of production) were very prohibitive for whoever doing it. It was charging so much that Indians did not see it as a good business venture. So I just parked my thoughts, put the file (script) in drawers and forgot about it.
What happened then?
Then one day, this guy Gautam Thakker of Division 91 Studios Pvt. Ltd came into my office with a poster of an Ali designed in a comic book way. I asked him what is this. He said his company is trying to make comic books. Then I took out my old file and said, 'Here it is. Just take and do it.' He said he loved it but wanted to start with Dhoom as he said, everybody loves the film. I agreed and that's how the idea literally got born...to start out a comic book, later make it a label and to come up with more titles.
Do you think we have an audience for comics?
Till 60s, 80s, 90s, there was a good industry for comic but now it's not there any more. So I thought of using our properties, films, which people have already accepted and loved, to revive it. Like we have Dhoom and also Ek Tha Tiger, which is already showing a lot of interest, and hence thought of using them to create an audience or readers who are not here at the moment. My endeavour is to lure and entice the first batch of readers by this connection to films.
So, isn't it risky?
Yes it is. But we are trying to bring out something that does not have an industry or a readership at the moment but we hope that with our passion and excitement, we can create a space for comics. We will be using our movies to fuel that.
Do you think people will want to read films in comic books?
We are of course going to use the characters (from films) that people already know and love. But there will be absolutely new stories ... they have nothing to do with the film ... at all.
Will there be superheroes in the comics?
Fantastical superheroes? Why not? But has to be something home-grown.
What are your expectations from Yomics?
I am super excited about Yomics. I am putting out there in the world hoping it will find its audience, its attractions so that I can create more characters and more universes that people will like, something vastly different, experimental that they will find out-of-the-box.
What are the titles you are releasing at the moment?
We have with four major comic series including Dhoom, Hum Tum, Ek Tha Tiger and a brand new character Daya Prochu, which incidentally is an anagram of Uday Chopra, my name. I have written the scripts of two of the comic series including Dhoom and Daya Pronchu. The comics have been launched in English and Hindi and will be translated into regional languages as well.
Tell us more about Daya Prochu.
I created this character on Twitter just for fun and used to tweet in his name ... sometimes philosophical, sometimes funny, at time irreverent. But when people started liking it, I thought why not introduce this character, who is my alter ego, in the comic books. He is a child but does things which I could not do in school.
Like if someone tries to bully him, he can scold that person, something which I could do when I was in school. There is a Daya Prochu in all of us who wants to come out.
Why don't we see in you films these days?
As far as me being in front of the camera as an actor in concerned, I am continuing with that in Dhoom 3. But my focus has now shifted slightly and I am concentrating on my production company (YRF Entertainment -YRF's Hollywood wing, based in Los Angeles).
Tell us about your Hollywood projects.
We have finished our first film (The Longest Week) and going for the production of our second film (Grace To Monaco) in September. So my time is spent mostly abroad and handling that.
You have just started shooting for Dhoom 3? How it is going?
I am totally excited. It's like a boy's thing ... what we grown up wanting to do, that is, play with guns, do stunts on bikes and romance hot women. And that's exactly what Dhoom 3 is ... all Dhoom is. So for me, it's superb going back and working again with Abhishek (Bachchan) and working first time with Aamir (Khan). I am sure it's going to be an amazing experience and fun.
Will you use your comic label to promote Dhoom 3?
Dhoom 3 will come and we can do a separate book on that movie and that story itself. But that's not going to be the thought behind the comics. They will have new stories with new villains, new characters and new locations. Whatever it is, you will have something that you have not got in the films. I am not using Dhoom as a promotional tour for the movie. In fact, it's exactly the reverse. I want to use the films as promotional tours for the comic books.