Tackling issues related to the pandemic and bringing home the message that frontline workers are real heroes, India’s homegrown modern-day comic book superhero, Priya return accompanied by Pakistan’s female superhero, Burka Avenger
She doesn’t wear a cape. She doesn’t have any fancy superpowers to show off either. Yes, you guessed that right. Priya, our homegrown modern-day comic book superhero is back.
In the new edition of the series – ‘Priya’s Mask’, as the name suggests she tackles the Covid-19 pandemic that has challenged the health and well-being of the world. To spread awareness,ĺl Priya befriends a little girl named Meena to show her the sacrifices made by frontline healthcare workers and instil the power of courage and compassion among all.
Like before, her tiger Sahas, accompanies Priya as she explains the importance of wearing a mask and working together to help end the pandemic around the world.
It’s a new addition in this edition that catches attention. In an unprecedented and historic collaboration, Priya teams up with Pakistan’s female superhero, Burka Avenger in their fight against the deadly virus. “The virus does not understand or respect borders so this was a natural synergy between both cultural heroes,” says writer Shubhra Prakash.
“One of the motivations for doing this project is that I lost two doctor friends to Covid-19 back in March, and my father had to leave his medical practice. Several of our producers in India have family infected with Covid-19,” shares creator Ram Devineni.
Named a ‘gender equality champion’ by UN Women, the series was created by US-based media house Rattapallax founder, documentary filmmaker, and technologist Ram Devineni. The project was funded through a grant from the North India Office of the US embassy New Delhi, in coordination with the Regional English Language Office as part of US-India cooperation to combat the pandemic.
Defying regressive patriarchal norms, Priya is known to be a crusader for female rights as was seen in the original comic book ‘Priya’s Shakti’ followed by ‘Priya’s Mirror’. This edition is no different.
“The pandemic and its effect on society and especially on women have barely been discussed or measured. Women have been on the forefront of the pandemic working as caregivers and medical workers. They have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic, so we felt this comic book and film had to be made now. There has been plenty of discussion of the economic and medical consequences of the virus, but very little on the emotional toll it has on people. Living in isolation is difficult, and especially on children and we felt this needed to be focused on through Meena. Additionally, we wanted a creative way for parents to talk about the pandemic and loneliness with their children,” explains Devineni.
The augmented reality comic book is paired with an animated short film in this edition. Featuring the voices of feminist leaders from the US and India, including icon Rosanna Arquette, Vidya Balan, Mrunal Thakur and Sairah Kabir.
Thakur, who voiced Priya, says, “I resonated strongly with Priya’s superhero character and realised she is someone I would like to bring to life through the creative medium. I want to tell children of frontline workers that even though their parents aren’t wearing capes, they are heroes in their own ways. They too are saving lives and taking care of the nation.”
The book also focuses on the false information around the virus that is creating an atmosphere of fear and speculation among citizens, making it harder to focus on the facts to fight the pandemic. While the edition was written back in August, the creators say it is more imperative now.
The comic book is available in nine languages at http://www.priyashakti.com/
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