“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.

A Heaven for Trishanku

The website for my new graphic novel project “A Heaven for Trishanku” (drawn by R. Manikandan) is live at AHeavenForTrishanku.com. Mani and I did Sadhu volume 2 : The Silent Ones together and it is a real kicker to be working with him again.

As a story AHFT is very different from anything I’ve done so far. It’s the story of Anwesh Bannerjee, a student activist in the ’70s who along with his “comrades” tried to blow up a bridge to protest against the “Bourgeoisie”-controlled government and ended up accidentally killing an Indian Railways worker who was on duty. Haunted by this guilt, Anwesh surrendered and the court sentenced him to Life imprisonment. Now after more than four decades he is set free and sets about finding the last surviving kin of his victim to apologize.

The story is set against the backdrop of Modern India well on its way to becoming America Light and is represented in the story by Anwesh’s nephew Manu, a 16 year old living in an ideological void populated only by the materialistic swarm of cell phones and iPod’s.

This is the story of Anwesh’s quest for redemption. This is the story of Manu’s unwitting search for an ideological anchor. This too is the story of an unusual friendship between a sixty year old and a sixteen year old, both adrift in the churning ocean that is India today, itself searching for an identity.

About A Heaven for Trishanku

A Heaven for Trishanku (AHFT) is written by Saurav Mohapatra (DEVI, SADHU, MUMBAI MACGUFFIN, INDIA AUTHENTIC, JIMMY ZHINGCHAK, PHANTOM CHRONICLES) and drawn by R. Manikandan (SADHU, KSHATRIYA : BLADE FO THE WARRIOR).