Today’s Needull is not a great article. It has been chosen to feature on this website out of a whim, neither for its literary content, nor for any socio-political impact but only for the nostalgic value it brings to yours truly.
When I was growing up in semi-urban India, there were no dark knights or masked friendly neighours or flying aliens in my life. I knew there was someone called Superman, who lived somewhere abroad but I was also thoroughly convinced that even in the worst of calamities, he would never bother to visit India. Thankfully, India had its own Superhero Universe, most of them creations of Raj Comics’ Anupam Sinha. The superhero team was a set of cliched Indian characters – like a cobra-man, a street dog-man and an ex-soldier decked in national colours with a super-strong shield (sounds familiar, anyone).
But the one that stood out was a young orphan circus-boy, flaming in the fire of vengeance, vrooming through the streets of Rajnagar, sporting self-designed ordinary gadgets to tackle super villains with extraordinary abilities, using science to befriend gods and tweets to tame birds, romancing the femme fatale daughter of the local mafia boss. Today’s Needull is just a short introduction to this young lad whose intellect, skills, gadgets and bike’s horsepower has grown along with my age. Any sane Indian born in the last quarter of the twentieth century would know that I am talking about none other than Dhruv Mehra aka Super Commando Dhruva.
Aided by a utility belt, a grapple gun, a trusty Motor Cycle (parts of which he has at times used to defeat enemies) and a Commando Force who help him in data analytics and at times physical violence, Dhruv battles motley of villains – both human and supernatural. And therein lies the genius of Anupam Sinha. With a deeply enriched universe of both allies and enemies Dhruv’s comics, perfected the concept of the continuous story arc, with minor changes in the lives of background characters culminating in a butterfly effect a few comics later.