There's a new superhero in town. The cape-wearing moustachioed do-gooder can be found kicking a radical rascal's ass (or two) before his morning cuppa green tea. For the first time in India, say a Sanskaari Namaskar to the guardian of Rashtria, hero of Halahala - the one and only RashtraMan (RM). He's nationalist and he knows it!
We spoke to the brains behind RM - Appupen. He agreed to the interview after we bribed him with promises of being as anti-radical as possible. You never know what might offend RM's sensibilities and we didn't want to take any chances.
For the uninitiated, Appupen is a graphic novelist and artist, who travels between the mythical dystopian dimension of Halahala and Bangalore city. Of late he's been having trouble distinguishing between the two.
On one such travel to Rashtropolis, in Rashtria, Appupen bumped into RM's public relation crew. They were looking to expand RM's business empire, catch more territories and subdue more people. Appupen couldn't resist the lucrative contract. "Any ad firm here would have killed for this opportunity," he revealed.
Not everyone gets satire. We asked him if he had faced any backlash? Any death threats which came his way recently? "Satire is a great way to make a point, using humour. Unfortunately, it assumes the audience is civilised and mature. We know that court jesters and clowns could even make fun of the king, even during Shakespeare's time. I've been cautioned, but death threats are nothing to boast of, if they happened. It would only further emphasize the sad state of affairs that we are trying to highlight. We shouldn't leave the students alone to fight for us," Appupen said while making a valid point.
Some people have coined their own jingles for RM, which left Appupen tickled. "I like all appreciation. And maybe some criticism too. The response has been very encouraging, and I hope in turn it makes it easier for more people to speak out," he said.
We dared to ask him if he identified with the great RM in, perhaps, some teeny-weeny way. Pat came the reply, "I've always imagined having biceps like him, but I gave up. I'm working on my moustache now."
There are a number of agendas RM has. Appupen revealed, "Mostly it's about building his image up as a superhero-god. Once that is achieved, there will be no opposition and no questions. For example, he calls his people sheep in private, but I'm not allowed to put that in the comic. He's looking at movie and merchandise franchises now, and you'll see him in some big ad campaigns soon."
We asked Appupen if RM knows he's not real? (Or maybe he is more real than any of us...) He replied, "Convincing the world that he may not be real has been his greatest trick."
Appupen, a big fan of MAD and Ad Busters magazines, is working on a graphic novel next, as usual. Currently, all his free time is taken up by a web idea called Brainded. That's the alternate universe where RM lives too. "Our lives are being dictated by big corporations and mass media, so we must first realise it and then poke some fun at it! Brainded hopes to discuss topics of public discourse through comics, humor and art. We use satire and spoofs to interpret mainstream trends and commercials.
(All images and answers sourced from George Mathen in the guise of Appupen)