Bahadur

Bahadur (meaning The Brave Man) is a comic book superhero published by Indrajal Comics and created by Aabid Surti in 1976. Although it had been initially created by Aabid Surti a few years earlier, it was finally offered to Indrajal Comics. Aabid Surti was at that time freelancing for Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.. After he moved on, Jagjit Uppal took over the task. The artwork was illustrated by Govind Brahmania and later by his son, B Pramod.

The comics were published in various languages including Hindi, English and Bengali. Besides regular comics, the series was also featured in dailies and weeklies along with other comic heroes.

The stories evolved with time and portrayed the changing face of India. While beginning with dacoits in deep ravines and the small town of Jaigarh, Bahadur later moved to tackling themes such as espionage. The town itself moved from being a small sleepy town to a modern city.

Aabid Surti conceived of Bahadur and started the comic strip in 1976. “Bennett, Coleman & Co wanted me to create an Indian character that could take on the popularity of the four foreign comics that ruled the market in India then—The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon and Tarzan,” he says. “During that time, the Chambal Valley was becoming increasingly notorious, and there were exhortations to people to group together to fight crime. So I developed the character of Bahadur as someone who helps create a citizens’ police force to fight the dacoits.”

Surti has an interesting explanation for why Bahadur sports a saffron kurta and jeans. “A kurta and saffron were symbols of Indianness. And jeans were a Western import and indicated progress. Hence, the combination,” he says. “In fact, I have showed Bahadur and his girlfriend, Bela, in a live-in relationship—something unheard of in those times. But it was very well accepted by the audience.”

Though Bahadur’s portrayal also changed with time as the artists drawing the series changed, Bahadur’s appearance remained the same until 1986, when his trade mark long-hair chopped to shorter & a neat look, which gave him a necessary urban look, and his outfit was changed from an orange kurta to a tight-fitting pink long-sleeved T-shirt. This series stopped in April 1990 when Times of India cancelled the Indrajal Comics that year. Mukhiya had a habit of saying “Kasam Ganga maiya ki” for everything.

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