Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Raka - Remembering the biggest villain of the Chacha Chudhary comics

Remember this guy? I am guessing anyone who is familiar with the world of Chacha Chaudhary would know him pretty well.




This is Raka - the giant of a dacoit who is Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu's mortal enemy. I wanted to talk a bit about him today Just a bit.

The thing with the Raka series was that it took the Chacha Chaudhary comics to a different zone. Generally, these comics were light-hearted and simple fun. But with the Raka series, they became dark and gory. Heads and limbs were chopped off with absolute nonchalance and slangs were used repeatedly as well. But they gave the series a different edge that I definitely relished.

When I had interviewed Pran Kumar Sharma (the creator of the Chacha Chaudhary comics) in 2013, I had asked him about Raka. Here is what he had to say about him:

"I wanted to create a completely different character that would take everyone by surprise. Hence Raka the dacoit was formed. He is unabashedly violent and kills for power and pleasure. When he grew immortal, there was no stopping him except Chachaji and Sabu. People fear him, but in the end, he is always packed off in some far off and desolate place. The idea was to be innovative and not get repetitive with the stories that I came out with. Raaka’s stories take my comics to a different genre; while certain sensibilities about good and evil remain the same."

I remember when the first comic of the series - 'Chacha Chaudhary aur Raka' - was released. It was so different in mood and setting; even the artwork felt distinctly separate from the norm. There were real dacoits in here and not the loony ones like Dhamaka Singh and Gobar Singh that we were used thus far. Raka was brutal and ruthless; a real baddie. And when Raka accidentally consumed a special Ayurvedic medicine by a Vaidhya (doctor) named Chakramacharya, he became abnormally large and immortal.



That was a real 'wow' moment for me. I mean, a merciless criminal has become a giant and is immortal. Talk about a true challenge to Chacha Chaudhary! Like Pranji says, the Raka series generally followed a set pattern: Raka somehow finds a way out of the place he has been dispatched to. He comes in and wrecks complete havoc everywhere. And after a climatic showdown with Chacha ji and Sabu, he is again sent off packing.

Initially, I would be so pumped about the Raka series. I mean, this was such a novel concept in Indian comics (for me, anyway). I would eagerly wait for each sequel. And each of them had such catchy titles: :"Raka Ka Inteqam", "Raka Ka Jawab", "Raka Ki Wapasi", "Raka Se Muthbhedd ,"Raka Ka Hamla ", "Raka ki Tabahi". Man, I loved those titles.



And I would also be fascinated with the cover art of the Raka series. Pran Ji was simply awesome with them. Initially, we had a muscular and menacing-looking Raka with a sword or a gun. Then he made him stout and gruff-looking with bigger guns. The covers would generally have scenes that would not be on the inside pages, but they were still incredibly awesome. I remember one cover where Raka and Sabu are arm-wrestling; that really blew my mind as a child even though the scene was not in the story inside.

The Raka series deteriorated a bit later on. I think the last one I read was "Raka aur Hydrogen Bomb" back in 2015. It was just okayish. And I can understand. I mean, how long can you drag a storyline about a giant, immortal dacoit on the rampage, after all? The stories had to become repetitive at some point and they did.

With Pran ji no more in this world, we will not get another episode of the Raka series by him. But I am ever so thankful to the man for creating a character, a series, that had me so captivated. I remember imagining myself to be Sabu and would have those 'shadow fights' where I would wrestle Raka and would beat him to pulp.  (In my defense, they called me Sabu in my early teens and that went a bit to my head).


I still have most of the Raka series with me and I read them from time to time. I always will. They had a great impact on me. I do feel sad, however, that I would never be able to feel the excitement, the thrill, I used to have for every new Raka comic. Those were some good comics. Those were good times.

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