Saurav Mohapatra - comic book writer

author, artist and bona fide geek

Category: Favorite Characters

“Building Character” (Part 2) – TRISHANKU

Like parents, creators are duty bound to say that they love all their children equally and like parents, creators always have their personal favorites.

When working on creator owned projects like MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL or DHURANDHAR, I have the freedom to build the world and its inhabitants from the ground up. So I can craft each character and add whatever oddities I feel like to make them more “human” :). But as a “work for hire” writer, the properties one deals with already have set personalities as protagonists and antagonists. So as a creator, I always felt that one way I could leave my stamp in those projects was to create some characters around the main cast who’d provide extra flavor.

Here’ a list of some characters from the ones I’ve created so far for my Work-For-Hire projects. I shall be writing a series of these dealing with one of my favorite characters in each.

#2 – TRISHANKU (from THE SADHU: THE SILENT ONES)

TRISHANKU was a major character in my run on THE SADHU : THE SILENT ONES, a 5 issue mini-series drawn by R. Manikandan and edited by Ron Marz. When I thought of the character of Trishanku, the immediate model in my mind was the character of Ben Gunn from R.L. Stevenson’s TREASURE ISLAND.

The other influence, obviously, was the mythological figure of Trishanku, who was the only mortal on record to bodily ascend to heaven. His unprecedented act threatened to topple the delicate cosmic balance and as a compromise, he was offered “Trishanku’s Heaven”, a midway realm between heaven, hell and earth.

Like his namesake, our character from Sadhu has been marooned in Limbo for a long time and this has cost him his sanity. Trishanku is a scholar-warrior, displaying in depth knowledge of Vedic hymns and martial arts — a homage to the drunken/crazy kung-fu fighters from Hong Kong flicks.

I still remember the first line I wrote describing the character to the editorial team.

Trishanku is the proverbial mad monk, kind of like Ben Gunn from Treasure Island meets Yoda. You don’t know at any given moment, if he’ll unlock the secrets of the universe or fling his poo at you.

Another cool thing about Trishanku was the way he spoke. He is shown as completely mad by the time we meet him in the story and thus he has a unique speech pattern. He refers to himself in the third person and fires off synonyms of words together. This gives him a deranged voice that hints at deep wisdom.

As the story progresses, we get to know more about who Trishanku really is and what he’s capable of. Needless to say, he plays a pivotal role in wrapping up the plot and helping James Jensen in his quest.

Even when his mind is not quite right (from the centuries of being marooned in Limbo), Trishanku displays awesome capabilities and powers that help him when threatened.


You can read the whole THE SADHU : THE SILENT ONES miniseries for free at SCRIBD. Here’s a post I made earlier about that.

“Building Character” (Part – I) – FUKKU BHAI

Like parents, creators are duty bound to say that they love all their children equally and like parents, creators always have their personal favorites. One thing I love about being a writer is creating characters. Somehow, I get more pleasure out of creating zany, off-beat supporting characters than the protagonist. Guess growing up on a staple diet of Hindi/Bollywood potboilers had to take its toll somehow. In most Indian movies made between 80-90 (the halcyon days, IMHO — low budgets, huge casts and broad intended appeal) mostly the hero was a cookie cutter avenging angel or an all around nice guy trapped in a bad world. These stories were populated with an unbelievable cast of “Helpers” and “Villains” — those that either helped or hindered the hero in his quest to either change the world or achieve the zen of family wholesomeness.

Long story short, I enjoy designing bad guys and supporting characters.

When working on creator owned projects like MUMBAI CONFIDENTIAL or DHURANDHAR, I have the freedom to build the world and its inhabitants from the ground up. So I can craft each character and add whatever oddities I feel like to make them more “human” :). But as a “work for hire” writer, the properties one deals with already have set personalities as protagonists and antagonists. So as a creator, I always felt that one way I could leave my stamp in those projects was to create some characters around the main cast who’d provide extra flavor.

Enough talk, let’s get down to business. Here’ a list of some characters from the ones I’ve created so far for my Work-For-Hire projects. I shall be writing a series of these dealing with one of my favorite characters in each.

#1 – FUKKU BHAI (from MUMBAI MACGUFFIN)

I created this character for the Virgin comics one-shot MUMBAI MACGUFFIN, which was written by me and illustrated by Saumin Patel. I had visualized the story as THREE DAYS OF CONDOR meets SNATCH and set in Mumbai. It’s an action-comedy about a CIA operative who comes to Mumbai to hunt for a downed satellite and ends up facing a cast of weird characters.

Saumin and I created the gangster Ali Shah Jung Bahadur Fakruddin Sheikh (aka Fukku Bhai) as a larger-than-life mob boss who rules over “Chor Bazar”, the secret market of thieves deep inside the slums of Dharavi. We gave him a disability (he’s wheelchair bound) to humanize him, yet made him cold and hard as Megatron’s balls. Fukku Bhai is a John Wayne fan and watches old westerns all day long. He carries an antique colt in an authentic wild west holster and doesn’t hesitate to shoot people who irritate him. He’s the king in his kingdom and you mess with him at your own peril.

Rather than being the antagonist, Fukku is sort of the local bigwig and plays a part in the story that suits his stature as the undisputed ruler of Chor Bazar, where his word is law.

You can read the whole comic book here for free.