Priya – first Indian female superhero – is the main character of a new comic book tackling gender inequality issues in India. For years it’s been inconceivable that there would be any popular art project of this kind. But now, Dan Goldman and Ram Devineni have created a powerful statement against violence with their Priya augmented reality comic book.

 

Who is Priya?

Priya's Uprising comic book. Augmented Reality Priya's Uprising comic book. Augmented Reality

Priya's Uprising comic book. Augmented Reality

Priya's Uprising comic book. Augmented Reality

Ram Devineni, filmmaker and founder of Rattapallax films, met graphic illustrator Dan Goldman at a tech meet-up in New York in the place called Story Code NYC. Being both deeply concerned about social problems and possible tools destined to draw attention to those issues, they decided to implement innovative AR technologies into creation of their soon-to-be globally acclaimed project – the series of Priya comic books.

The first edition, Priya’s Shakti, tells the story of a young woman, Priya, who had become gang rape victim. So since then she decided to strive for women’s rights in India with help from the mighty Hindu deity Parvati. The basic idea is very similar to that of a simple comic book, but there’s a difference. The creators of Priya have took to an absolutely other level of imagination. Using an AR phone application, readers are able to see animation, videos and other interactive elements popping out of the book’s pages. The plot is based on the real life stories of sexual harassment, told by Indian women who were later turned into characters. They underwent some facial changes in order to conceal their identitReleased in 2012, Priya’s Shakti blew up the internet and India itself, acquiring numerous awards with, most notably, UN Women’s 2014 Gender Equality Champion amongst them.

The second story in the series, Priya’s Mirror, premiered at the Mumbai Comic-Con and at the New York Film Festival 2016. The main goal of this chapter was to bring awareness to the acid attacks survivors. Priya joins forces with them in desire to fight a demon-king, Ahankar, who keeps them all imprisoned.

 

Official Phone App

Furthermore, Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman have bonded with AR experts Blippar with the objective to create an accompanying application for Priya’s Mirror. Ram and Dan have called it the Last Mask Campaign. It allows a user to take a picture of oneself with a face-contorting mask. As it resembles the result of an acid attack, it initiates empathy.  According to the book’s creators, sharing those photos on the social networks can help raise awareness of that critical issue. And not only in India, but in the whole world.

Apart from just printed and digital editions, creators have also painted murals all around India. While exposing the comic book’s pages to passers-by, those murals can be scanned using the aforementioned app. The same scheme, but even more realistic!

 

Educational underpinning

Priya's Uprising comic book. Augmented Reality

Now, after we have discovered the world of Priya, let’s get the grips with the incentives behind it. Evidently, this series covers a range of horrendous topics, like rape and acid attacks. Nevertheless, it decides to convey its essential message in a “fun” way. According to Ram Devineni, the comic book format is obviously more appealing to the wide audience. Especially, to the adolescent. Implementation of Hindu mythology and a female super-hero make this comic accessible. Therefore, this mixture of creativity, interactive features and social activism lets the message land.

Summarizing it all, it is hard not to admit that Priya’s Shakti is an exceptionally original idea. An Indian mortal girl, who topples all the villains, including prejudices, anti-female attacks and gender inequality – this is a totally novel idea for the Indian market. Through this project, Ram Devineni and Dan Goldman are willing to substantially change the world. Transition from “provoking and seductive sinner woman” to a simple “victim” is very important in modern India. Distribution of novel’s physical copies to Indian schools has already begun. It can thereby really change the mindset of the growing generation.

Shakti is an Hindi word that means Power. Priya’s Shakti craves to empower the Indian women community and this is definitely plausible.

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