New Delhi : India’s boxing ace Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom could soon be seen in an animated avatar as the country’s first girl superhero, who will get her powers from the gloves she wears.
Mary Kom signs with ScreenYug Creations , the company set up by former Reliance Animation CEO Ashish S Kulkarni. The deal will entitle royalty to Mary Kom on global sales of the animation series, christened Mary Kom Jr, and any merchandise, games, comics, online distribution, story books and e-books that will be associated with it in future.
“Most children’s shows today are boy-centric,” said Kulkarni, who had sold his earlier animation company to Reliance Animation before joining it as CEO in 2007. “There isn’t much to engage the girls. As a result, we found that 10-year-old girls are starting to watch general entertainment shows.”
The series will capture the fictional school life of the 8-10 years old Mary Kom Jr, borrowing a little from Mary Kom’s native Manipuri culture. The idea, however, will be to keep the series and its characters fairly neutral, so it can appeal to a larger global audience.
“Bob the Builder is Bob the Builder to British kids, American kids and to Indian kids alike,” said Kulkarni, who has earlier made popular animation shows such as Little Krishna, Shaktimaan and feature films such as Krishna Aur Kans.
Boxer Mary Kom said it is going to be an interesting way to motivate the girl child. “I think it is time to take more responsibility for the girl child. I want girls to be confident, strong,” she said.
The animation series, she said, will bring in a flavour of self-defence, which is very relevant in today’s times. “Parents are usually not keen on fighting games for their girl child but with all the crime going around, their eyes are now open and this will help,” said Mary Kom, who is 32 and a mother of three, and is now preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. After that, she plans to hang up her gloves.
Mary Kom recalls when she was young, her father made her do everything like a boy would and that never went down well with other boys in her village in Manipur. “They would discourage me and that was a challenge for me. There is no difference between a boy and a girl,” she said.
Over the last few years, a lot has been going Mary Kom’s way. She won a bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics, gold in the Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea, in 2014, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan—in 2013. In 2012, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali signed her up for a biopic on her life in which Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra played her character. The movie, which was released in the second half of 2014, enjoyed a decent sprint at the box office, reportedly making over Rs 100 crore worldwide over the next two months. An autobiography co-authored by Dina Serto was published earlier in 2013.
“Before her Olympic medal in 2012, there were very few endorsement deals, but since then corporate interest has been high,” said Neerav Tomar, CEO at celebrity and sports management firm IOS Sports & Entertainment, which has been managing Mary Kom since 2008.
“There was a lot of interest among companies to tap the Northeast with her.”
Mary Kom endorses around 15 brands, including Monnet Steel, Piramal, GSK, Thailand Tourism, Dalmia Cement, Herbalife and Artemis Hospital. Although her endorsement deals are in no way comparable to those of cricketers and film stars, she is among the top few Indian sportspersons in terms of the number of endorsements. “The film in 2014 gave her a huge push, making her a household name,” said Tomar.