Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | February 8, 2015 | 11:53 am IST  It all began 500 years ago in a small village in Bengal.  Each night rasgullas, the region's famed melt-in-the-mouth delicacy, had the syrup sucked out of them by a 'mythical beast'. In the morning, to their horror, the villagers would find 'the lifeless, juice-less corpses' of the sweets. The villagers finally gathered the courage to confront the beast- the Bengali Vampire- and a shoved a fork through his heart.  It is said he's far from dead though. Legend has it that the Bengali Vampire, whose powers include immortality and hypnosis, can still be heard sucking the syrup from rasgullas in the dead of the night in the dark alleys of Calcutta- 'sweets are sweeter than blood after all'.  Also known as Rosomoy Ganguly, the Bengali Vampire is not an ancient folk tale. He is an Indian superhero.  (Indian superheroes) The creation of Delhi-based artist Rajkamal Aich, The Bengali Vampire, is just one among the several Indian superheroes he has breathed life into.  "I thought why couldn't we have Indian superheroes who are not just unique but also fun", says Aich, who began working on this series around 5 months ago. He however adds that he had no specific plan or agenda in mind when he started making these drawings.  (The artist himself- Rajkamal Aich) Aich took inspiration for his characters of the Indian superheroes series from several popular Indian snacks. "If I drew a character with a normal human body, it might not have caught the attention of the viewers. But food, which is a good conversation starter, makes them stand out", Aich, who works as an art consultant for The Economic Times, asserts.  It was only natural for Aich, who was born and brought up in Calcutta- a city known for its deep connect with food- to blend his love for food with his work.  (Indian superheroes) And thus were born the Emarti Man, Misti-Doi Man, Jalebi Woman, Laddoo Boy, Samosa Boy, Bhaja Mukho, and also Idli Man- each having their unique story to tell.  For example, Idli man, who's mustache has been inspired from Veerapan, can throw idlis at his enemies with great precision, giving them instant diarrhea. Jalebi woman, on the other hand, dunks her enemies into sugar syrup after tying them in knots.  "My characters are ordinary people who have stood up for themselves, against the adversities of life. I want to tell people that the guy you might be ignoring today can have special powers, and might be capable of greater things", Aich says.  (Indian superheroes) "Through my drawings I want to encourage my audience, most of whom are young adults and kids, to imagine beyond the obvious", he states.  Aich, at present, is working on several such series together. "I come from a family of painters and drawing comes naturally to me", he says.  There is the Superheroes in India series, followed by Batman in India and Children of God- his most recent project.  (Superheroes in India) (Robin Da- Superheroes in India) (Superheroes in India)   The Batman in India, in a series of photographs, captures Batman and his friends on their trip to India.  (Batman in India) (Batman in India) (Batman in India) It is however difficult being an artist in India, Aich feels. Social media, he says, has been a blessing for him to spread his work to the masses. But curators do not seem to be interested in putting up his work in exhibitions. " People here still feel, "Oh, this is a comic". It is a general perception that a clown has to be funny. What they don't see it that many of my characters are satirical in nature", he explains.  Like Bhaja Mukho is a child who sells samosas to other people, but he does not have the money to buy the same for himself, Aich asserts.  Although all his drawings are available for sale in the print form, most of them have been brought from people in other countries. "People here often ask "why should I buy a digital form?"", he says.  This has not stopped him from doing what he does best- drawing. He plans to continue his projects and may jump to other issues in the future. "The response for my work till now has been awesome, something beyond my expectations", Aich gushes.  (All images have been published with the permission of the artist.) Tweet Follow @thenewsminute Read: When Children of God are abused 
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