New Priya children’s comic book on Covid19 pandemic and animated film with Bollywood + Hollywood movie stars

India’s First Female Animated Superhero Returns With ‘Priya’s Mask’: A New Comic Book And Film Focused on COVID-19 International stars and feminist leaders Rosanna Arquette, Vidya Balan, Mrunal Thakur, and Sairah Kabir come together as voice-over actors in project of global significance

New York, New York — 2 December 2020 – ‘Priya’s Mask’ is the newest edition of a comic book series featuring India’s first female comic book superhero. A symbol of strength and a force for change for girls around the world, Priya tackles the COVID-19 pandemic that has challenged the health and well-being of the world. The comic book and film will be released worldwide on December 2, 2020 on multiple platforms and premiering at Global Health Film Festival in London.

Released as an augmented reality comic book, the installment is paired with an animated short film featuring the voices of feminist leaders from the U.S. and India, including icon Rosanna Arquette, Vidya Balan, Mrunal Thakur, and Sairah Kabir.

Named a ‘gender equality champion’ by UN Women, the series was created by U.S.-based media house Rattapallax founder, documentary filmmaker, and technologist Ram Devineni . ‘Priya’s Mask’ is produced by Tanvi Gandhi , Indrani Ray , and Monika Samtani, written by Shubhra Prakash , with illustrations and animation by Syd Fini , Hamid Bahrami and Neda Kazemifar . The project was funded through a grant from the North India Office (NIO) of the U.S. Embassy New Delhi, in coordination with the Regional English Language Office (RELO), as part of the U.S.-India cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In an unprecedented and historic collaboration, the installment will present a debut alliance between two hugely successful female comic book superheroes from neighboring countries, with Priya collaborating with Pakistan’s female superhero, Burka Avenger in their fight against the deadly virus. “The virus does not understand or respect borders,” adds writer Shubhra Prakash, “so this was a natural synergy between both cultural heroes.”

Voiced by Indian film actress and advocate Mrunal Thakur , Priya is accompanied by her flying tiger, Sahas, voiced by BAFTA winner Rosanna Arquette and in India by movie star Vidya Balan . Set against the rustic backdrop of Jodhpur, India, Priya befriends 8-year-old Meena, voiced by Sairah Kabir , to show her the importance of frontline healthcare workers and instill the power of courage and compassion during this difficult time. Along with Sahas, Priya explains the importance of wearing a mask and working together to help end the pandemic around the world.

Actor Vidya Balan commented on the film, “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 and I’m happy to be part of this wonderful film.”

Actor Mrunal Thakur , who voiced Priya, added, “I resonated strongly with Priya’s superhero character and realised she is someone I would like to bring to life through the creative medium. 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. Characters like Priya and Sahas are putting forth the message of how we need the world to become a more inclusive place to live in. 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. This is the first time I am lending my voice to a character especially to a superhero.”

Sairah Kabir states, “I jumped at this opportunity as I found great merit in being part of it. 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.”

The character of Priya, a new Indian ‘superhero’, and original comic book series started as PRIYA’S SHAKTI (2014) after the horrific gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012; PRIYA’S MIRROR (2016) saw Priya join forces with a group of acid attack survivors; and PRIYA AND THE LOST GIRLS (2019) is focused on the issue of sex trafficking.

With the debut of PRIYA’S MASK, the India-born U.S.-based Ram Devineni says, “ 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.” Devineni adds that false information around the virus is creating an atmosphere of fear and speculation among citizens, making it harder to focus on the facts to fight the pandemic. PRIYA’S MASK creates awareness about accurate health information for young audiences in India and abroad.

The U.S. Embassy’s North India Office said: “This exciting book is both the newest chapter in the Priya series and the latest example of the United States and India working together to confront global health challenges, drawing on the deep talents of both of our peoples.”

The pathbreaking comic book series is available as a free download, and has been acknowledged by over 26 million people worldwide through multiple platforms, books, and exhibitions with over 500,000 downloads and 30,000 printed copies distributed. Basking in the exceptional legacy of being the one of the very few comic books specifically constructed to generate awareness on social perils amongst the youth community — creating empathy and identification with survivors so they can pursue justice without shame leading to emancipation from disabling restrictions imposed by an unsympathetic society.

About Author