This is the first Indian graphic novel that I have read (albeit written and illustrated by Amruta Patil who is an NRI). I simply loved it. The storyline and the rough hewn sketches come together to create a visual mood that a simply worded book would find difficult to evoke. Being a novice in the world of graphic novels, one aspect of the genre that I have realized is that, in the hands of a gifted illustrator with imagination, the story told can be immensely compelling. The pictures are like poetry that can speak more than a thousand words – in fact can speak where language fails.
The novel is dark, ironic and poignant in turn. There is an undercurrent of gallows humour in it which prevents the book from becoming foreboding. The setting is Mumbai and contains all the elements that people have loved and hated about it (often the hate and love is about the same thing). The story is about Kari, who works in an advertising agency and lives in a two room flat with two other girls (though it is usually populated permanently with her roommate’s boyfriends). From the dank sewers, sweaty trains and a city that needs to be constantly on the move, Kari’s story is told.
She is a rebel without being one, dispassionate observer and passionate lover in turns, never fitting and knowing that perhaps she never will, drawn to individuals that are abandoned by others. All along is her dark, ironic humour and observations of the life around her and her unflinching honesty to herself about herself. All of this makes up a story which is very urban-contemporary and which contains within itself a multitude of threads; each of us will find atleast one thread that we recognize intimately as our own.
This is a love story, a story of everyone who fits in without really fitting in, a story of death and of ghosts, a story of life in its starkest practicality. I found it a story that gives echo to hidden parts in us, parts that we, like Kari can only explore alone and write our own inarticulate poetry about