Bollywood actresses Vidya Balan and Mrunal Thakur team up with Hollywood star Rosanna Arquette, to give voiceovers to an animated short film based on the Indian female comicbook superhero Priya.
The fourth edition of the comicbook series, titled “Priya’s Mask”, tackles the Covid-19 pandemic, and also features the voice of Sairah Kabir, daughter of filmmaker Kabir Khan.
“I have always aspired to be that superwoman who spreads awareness around social issues and it couldn’t be more exciting than to be a part of an animation character who is the voice of reason. 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,” said Mrunal.
Her character will be escorted by the flying tiger Sahas, voiced by Vidya. Set against the backdrop of Jodhpur, the story also features the eight-year-old Meena, voiced by Sairah, and her working mother who nurses Covid-19 infected patients.
Vidya Balan said: “The animation, apart from being a nod to caregivers globally, which in itself is wonderful and timely and necessary, carries a strong message of solidarity — so it was an easy ‘yes’ for me ‘.”
Sairah added: “A lot of kids my age will be able to relate to this story since their parents are working round the clock and juggling between so many responsibilities. In times like these, roles get reversed and children become pillars of strength for their parents by encouraging them to continue doing the praiseworthy work. It was an enjoyable experience voicing a cartoon as I have never done that and it is one thing ticked off my bucket list,” she said.
The series was created by US-based media house Rattapallax founder, documentary filmmaker and technologist Ram Devineni.
“It was important to understand the emotional toll the pandemic and isolation has on young people, and provide a message of hope in the comic and film,” said Devineni.
“Priya’s Mask” is written by Shubhra Prakash, and has illustrations and animation by Syd Fini, Hamid Bahrami and Neda Kazemifar. The project was funded through a grant from the North India Office of US Embassy, New Delhi, in coordination with the Regional English Language Office, as part of US-India cooperation to combat the pandemic.
The installment will present a debut alliance between two female comicbook superheroes from neighboring countries, with Priya collaborating with the Pakistani 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,” said Shubhra Prakash.
Priya was introduced to audiences in 2014, two years after the Nirbhaya gangrape on a bus in New Delhi.
The first volume launched in 2014, “Priya’s Shakti” had attempted to shatter social stigmas surrounding rape survivors.
The comicbook and film will be released worldwide on December 2 on multiple platforms.