Caricatures and leaders
Zafri Mudasser Nofil

Politicians are a caricature of themselves, says graphic novelist 

TO him, Indian politicians are often caricatures of themselves but graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee is more keen on dealing with people that surround him - local heroes, hustlers, monsters and gods.

"Often they (Indian are caricatures of themselves, usually just a profile is enough, just the way the person is should do the job," says Banerjee, who has come out with his third graphic novel The Harappa Files, the other two being Corridors and The Barn Owl's Wondrous Capers.

Sarnath Banerjee
Sarnath Banerjee

"I am really uninterested in powerful people, more keen on the regular guys that surround me, local heroes, hustlers, monsters and gods, as long as they are local," he says.

In The Harappa Files, published by HarperCollins India, he tries to implode the form of the graphic novel and in the process goes back to the age old traditions of pictorial books, illuminated manuscripts.

"Historically, people told stories using words and pictures, but slowly the weight of words crushed the images and took away an extremely sophisticated form of storytelling, mine is a small attempt at reviving it," Banerjee said.

The The Harappa Files is apparently a report based on a survey by the Greater Harappa Rehabilitation, Reclamation and Redevelopment Committee (GHRRRC) of the current ethnography and urban mythology of a country on the brink of great hormonal changes.

The book is a series of graphic commentaries that analyse the cracks in post-liberalised India.

Although impressed by the far-sightedness of the government in setting up the GHRRRC, Banerjee has one niggling concern he is worried that the consequence of his project will be the release of the dreaded Harappa recommendations, making it mandatory for all citizens to sign the draconian, ultra invasive Form 28B...

According to Banerjee, graphic novels are a good way to deal with the complex contemporary life of India with its many intrigues.

"It has also been noticed that people are increasingly getting suspicious of the multitude of words that are being churned out annually, piles of half-read and unread books are crowding bookshelves, with graphic novels, at least, you complete reading it and have a better sense of whether it was good or bad.

"Often, I feel it is more suited to modern living, where visual knowledge plays a very important narrative role.

Also, it is an exciting sector in publishing, probably the most in the last 10 years, lots of conversations around it, lots of interests but very little investments." PTI