When Ramesh Thamilmani started working as an architect many years ago, he drew sketches of his building plans alongside his team for his clients. Little did he know that this art skill would eventually lead him to design his own fictional world 'Atharva'.

The Chennai-based architect-turned-graphic novelist is in the limelight ever since he released the book cover poster of his upcoming work, ‘Atharva: The Origin’, last week. It has cricketing legend, MS Dhoni, as a superhero in a rugged look, much to the delight of fans across social media.

Written by Thamilmani, it took nearly six years for this project to see the light of the day. Developed by Virzu Studios in association with MIDAS Deals Pvt Ltd, the graphic novel was headed by MVM Vel Mohan and produced by Vincent Adaikalaraj and Ashok Manor.

First contact

Thamilmani confesses before speaking about his graphic novel that he's not much of a reader. “But I feel any job that involves using your creativity, be it architecture or writing, we always tend to imagine visually. And that's how I started creating this novel,” he says.

Thamilmani soon shared his ideas with his team and worked with an editorial consultant to sketch the plot.

Ramesh Thamilmani with Dhoni

Ramesh Thamilmani with Dhoni

As he started developing, he eventually got in touch with a mutual client who happened to know Dhoni. “I imagined how it would be if we had Dhoni as the novel's hero,” says Thamilmani. “It was also the time he had announced his retirement from cricket. For me personally, I wanted him to now transform as our hero to a superhero.”

He recalls how nervous he was when he first meet him. “All we had was just one line of the story and about 4-5 sample sketches. When I think about it now, I have to say I was extremely daring,” laughs Ramesh. After hearing the idea, Dhoni immediately decided to collaborate.

Thamilmani says that working with him was surreal. “He came to work with us as a partner and was fully involved in all the creative process. He was very patient and always loved listening to ideas. He trusted us with whatever we did and that was what we needed,” says Thamilmani.

Augmented reading experience

To capture the illustrations in the graphic novel, the team invited Dhoni and shot over 2,000 photographs, capturing different poses and expressions. “Whatever illustrations of Dhoni you see in the novel, they are all realistic,” Thamilmani says.

Another book cover poster of ‘Atharva: The Origin’

Another book cover poster of ‘Atharva: The Origin’

“When you think about reading, it is always in 2D. We wanted to go beyond that and offer an immersive experience,” says Thamilmani.

Hence, the team created an app that can be downloaded for augmented reading experience. When a reader scans the page of the graphic novel with the app, it will show visually appealing images of the characters floating in an isometric view above the book.

Thamilmani says that the novel is the origin story of a character “who journeys to understand who he is”. “I would suggest you read it fully. All I can say is that fans of Dhoni will be delighted to see him in this avatar,” the writer signs off. ‘Atharva: The Origin’ will be available for preorder in the coming weeks.