On Record: Samit Basu

This is my second official interview as such. And this time the man is Samit Basu, novelist, screenwriter, writer of comics and local monster, talking about his latest book Turbulence and writing among other things.

Snippets of the interview:

Samit Basu
Samit Basu

You’ve been part of quite a number of anthologies and collaborations. Which one was the best experience?

Collaborations – I co-wrote a comic, or graphic novel if you prefer, with Mike Carey, who is a writer I’ve idolized since I first started reading comics. If you haven’t read his Lucifer comics or his Felix Castor books, do so at once. For someone at that level, he was both incredibly generous as a collaborator and surprisingly nice as a person. The comic is called Untouchable, it’s a turn-of-the-century romance/horror story about a young Anglo-Indian boy’s twisted relationship with a rakshasi. It’s set in India and England, and starts this doomed couple, both outcasts, one caught between the different worlds of his parents, another caught between different eras and worlds.

Anthology wise, Electric Feather, the anthology of erotic stories edited by Ruchir Joshi. I wrote a story about a bunch of twentysomethings going back to Cal for a wedding and getting it on afterwards. It was lovely, because I got to write a kind of story I wouldn’t have done otherwise, have a great deal of fun, and people responded strongly – most people absolutely loved it, and others were deeply offended, and both responses pleased me greatly.

If you could be one of your superheroes, which one would you be?

Tia. I love her power, the ability to duplicate yourself and therefore essentially never have to make a choice again, because now you can live several lives and experience so many more things.

One book that you’d bequeath to your favorite niece/nephew.

I’d be a fairly sad uncle if I gave my favourite niece/nephew only one book. Lots and lots and lots of really good books. Do I have to bequeath them? That seems to involve dying. Must I die now?

One writer that seriously scrambled your brains with his/her dangerous and exciting ideas.

China Mieville

 

You can read the full interview here.

You can also read my review of Turbulence here or there.

Book Review: Corridor- A Graphic Novel by Sarnath Banerjee

Corridor- Sarnath Banerjee
Corridor- Sarnath Banerjee

Touted as India’s first graphic novel, Banerjee’s Corridor is the portrayal of Indian Life in Lutyen’s Dehi, through four wacky characters. There’s Jehangir Rangoonwala- second hand book shop owner, a modern-day Socrates wannabe and also a chaiwallah for his rare and eccentric customers. He surveys his small kingdom with the eye of an hawk and panders to the wishes and worries of people queuing outside his doors.

One of the customers is Brighu, an old soul searching for rare items and for an even rarer love. There’s Digital Dutta, confused between desires and ambitions, lost in musings of Marx and H1-B visas. And last but not least is the newly married Shintu, in desperate search of an aphrodisiac to add zing and spice to his marriage. Banerjee’s characters delight us with their sanguinity, insanity and relentless pursuit of a better life. One of the most memorable and hilarious scene is of Shintu using a dubious oil given to him by his household maid to improve the “intimate relationship” with his wife.

Written and illustrated by Banerjee himself, the lines and graphics will regale you through the course of a hundred odd pages. I think that writers who illustrate their own work get add their own personal touch to the artwork which blends with the storyline seamlessly and looks and reads better in the bigger picture.

To refute the claim made in the beginning of the review, Corridor is definitely not India’s first graphic novel. But the claim worked wonders for the book’s success, and in a vague way the guys at Penguin India were right to make the claim. It was the first of its kind to make an appearance on the Indian graphic fiction scene, and gave much needed attention and impetus to the amateur comics scene in India.

To all of us who have grown up on Tinkle, Amar Chitra Katha and those of us who love graphic novels, this one is a must pick. And I’m sure all the fanboys in India already have their hands on this, and if you don’t, shame on you!

 

You can also read the review here.

Kari- Book Review

 

Kari - Amruta Patil
Kari - Amruta Patil

Kari is the dark twisted tale of our eponymous character. Twenty something, working as a copywriter for an ad firm in the city of dreams, she wakes up to a failed suicide attempt. Or was it? Her love and soulmate Ruth has left the city, saved by safety nets while she was left to crawl from a sewer into a landfill. Thus begins Amruta Patil’s debut graphic novel, throwing the reader into a whirlwind of colors and words from the first page.

She takes us on a ride with Kari, where she stumbles and falls, retraces her steps, and picks up after herself. We watch her floating through life as if in a dream and search for meaning in trance, all the while struggling wearily with the dreariness of real life, mundane and painful. Patil paints a picture of gloom and despair, her grey ink leaking from pages, into the lives of her characters.

There are writers and there are illustrators. Amruta Patil dons both hats with apparent ease and adroitness. Her words and colors melt into each other, her writing and artwork complementing each other, like two entwined streams of thought and consciousness. She captures the city’s soul and her heroine’s with a keen observer’s eye and infuses a sense of dystopia that at once overwhelms and relieves. Kari’s emotional turmoil, her distorted realities, and her alter-egos each have their own nuanced hues and shades, bringing to the reader a breathless and entrancing escapade from our monochromatic lives.

Amruta Patil has a Master in Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, and has been an editor, a copywriter and a school teacher before making her fray into the world of graphic novels. Kari has been claimed to be a definitive piece of work in Indian graphic fiction and is a must read for graphic novel lovers and people who love the feminine mind, body and soul.

 

You can also find the review here.