What works in the west need not work here
By Mithra Suresh
01st May 2011 10:39 AM
What does ‘graphic novel’ mean in India? Is it different from a comic book? Graphic novels are a subset of comic books. Comic books are generally associated with children, while the former is supposed to be more literary and adult, but it makes no difference to me. I see no difference and use the terms interchangeably, as we spend a lot of energy trying to differentiate between the two.
There is a certain identity to graphic novels here, though.
The focus is not so much on the artwork, whereas in the West, visual arrestment is what authors are aiming for.
I would have to disagree on the point that graphic novelists here are not strong artists. It is becoming a cliche to compare all artists to a Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore.
What works in the West is not necessarily what works here.
But yes, I would say graphic novels here have strong political underpinnings, taking Amruta Patil’s Kari, which deals with identity politics, or Vishwajyoti Ghosh’s Delhi Calm, centred on the Emergency period, or Parismita Singh’s The Hotel at the End of the World, which are basically fables of north-east India. And then, Corridor is a multi-plot look at an urbane Delhi, and then I also worked on a novel on 18th century Calcutta, which serves as a historical record. And then there is Appupen’s Moonward, which is fantasy, also a commentary on environmental issues.
All of these novels, as much as they are strong in their stance on the issues they believe in, are also experimental and original in their drawings, but not necessarily embracing manga. They have their own voice. And I am more interested in the local voice.
I have had a lot of directors approach me for a comic book on the life of Sachin Tendulkar or Shah Rukh Khan. Consensus gathering is what writing for the masses brings. And a lot of advertising jargon is thrown up, such as ‘horizontalisation of media’.
Many Bollywood directors want to churn out comic books for this reason. But the aspirational value of mainstream media does not interest me. It’s like going to Switzerland, seeing the Swiss chateau and trying to recreate it here. It is important to keep your location in your mind.
So, in that sense, Sooni Taraporevala’s Little Zizou, with Imad Shah playing the lead, was a movie that addressed the issues of the Parsi community but also worked niche and contemporary themes like graphic novels into the movie.
So, what kind of a graphic novel, in your opinion, works for mass appeal?
I can become a right-wing vigilante, like Madhur Bhandarkar, who will speak about drugs and its evil effects and win the Shiv Sena’s vote of approval.
Any upcoming artists that you would like to see published?
I would say, Amitabh Kumar, an independent research scholar who is teaching at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. He is doing some good work and will get published soon.
So, watch out for that.
- The Woolwich 'beheading' is straight out of al-Qaeda's terror manual
- Not a drop of Cauvery for people on its banks
- Dalit discrimination 'forms' in colleges
- Marine turtles giving Kerala a miss
- New mango named Nirbhaya after gang-rape victim
- Shortage of essential TB drug heightens risk to patients, others
- Four years of UPA-II
- Nine years as PM: What will be Manmohan Singh's legacy?
- There is betting link even in Sree's company
- Sahara Group accuses the BCCI of Betrayal
- BrahMos missile test fired from Russian warship
- IPL ban, takeover of BCCI sought
- Police summon CSK boss on spot-fixing
- Names of UPA ministers will surface in IPL spot-fixing: Swamy
- Bride-to-be found with head smashed
- IPL Eliminator: Brad Hodge helps Royals beat Sunrisers