Friday, March 25, 2011

Kari - Amruta Patil

It’s a graphic novel. A new method of expression. And that’s the specialty of this book.

There is no story really. It’s abstract. It’s dark and depressing, but based on reality nevertheless.
It is interesting.
There are a few powerful lines but on the whole, I did not get it.

It’s about life in Bombay as seen from the eyes of Kari a tomboy arrived in Bombay and working for an ad agency. It’s not so much about her life but about the dark and depressing side of the city of Bombay.

Smog city, sewer, sewage, slums, women in lady's hostel swapping partners, having multiple partners at the same time, making out in the open before other people, women smoking, premarital pregnancies, abortion, homosexuality, cancer patient, death, suicide, survival, Bombay trains and more such…

For some reason it reminded me of the movie metro.

Fortunately, the graphics spare you a lot of reading time and effort. A picture is truly worth a 1000 words. Depressing, dark and abstract as the story is, if the pictures had all to be substituted by words, passages and descriptions, then it would not be worth the time and effort it would take the reader to finish a 3 to 4 hundred page novel that it would become.

Reality and imagination merge at places. Plus there are dreams throughout the book that are difficult to interpret. This makes the writing abstract and there is much left to imagination.

Whether a movie or book or painting, I believe that too much abstractness wears the person going through it and puts it beyond the reach of most people.
While it’s good to leave something to imagination, art as it is, a viewer should not have to make a lot of effort imagining and interpreting which hurts the purpose of art, that is recreation.

Abstractness is overrated in contemporary art. It’s a fad most of the time and not a necessity.

Reading this book is analogous to visiting an exhibition of photographs.
There is no definite story in the photos. But each picture says something. It presents a perspective. Sometimes it shows you things you never thought important enough to dwell upon and even brings out the meaning in them.

One more thing about the sketches. They are not all sketches. Some real photographs that all of us are familiar with have been used to bring in context. Like the Bollywood movie poster of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Picture of collages have been used. There is one very pretty arrangement of a drawing of girls finished with tiny silk frocks and gowns. A photograph of this has been used in one of the chapters.

The few powerful lines in the book suggest that it is a work of inspiration.

But I wish it were less incomplete, less abstract, with much too less left to imagination.
Glad it took me three days to finish it and not three weeks like other books since this is how it had to make me feel in the end.

All the best to the author. Equipped with a powerful technique such as sketching, the intellectual capacity to bring in elements such as dreams and symbolism, inspiration to create powerful lines, you will do much better if you work on a definite storyline, and choose a theme less dark and depressing and ‘complete’ your work instead of leaving a ‘to be continued’ on the last page.

Here are those lines that I underlined as I read…

“Of course I know that our tickers have been ticking since the day we were born but Angel was the first actively dying person I had met in my life. It’s as potent a connection as first love. I am madly drawn to her dying…”

“Alexa feeds the orange eyed cat in the tree every day; he likes to be where there is a bird's eye view…”

‘No matter where you are headed, or how nobly, you can sink without a trace…’

‘Why smoke at all? Why burn your money? Why turn pink lungs black? Why make your mouth taste like a wet garbage heap? There is only one answer - the desire to have a glowing flame between your fingertips is primeval like a caveman wanting to control fire…’

‘Make no mistake - there is no such thing as a straight woman…’

‘If I apologized for what was in my mind, I would be saying sorry all day long…’

‘It’s not that I have a bad relationship with the mirror. On the contrary, I think mirrors are splendid, shiny things that make great collectibles whether whole or in smashed bits. The problem is I just don’t know what they are trying to tell me...’

‘The ones who seem to have it in them to be flyers are the ones who want to snuggle into settling.
The ones that look as settled as old housedogs want to twist their way into flying. Necessarily you must be defensive about being a settling sort of girl...’

These lines are creative and original.
‘I play with fruit that the girls and I are too broke to buy - avocado, kiwi, mangosteen. There are some fruits you do not want to venture into alone. A peach, for one, creature of texture and smell, sings like a siren. A fruit that lingers on your fingertips with unfruitlike insistence, fuzzy like the down on a pretty jaw. Figs are dark creatures too, skins purple as loving bruises. A fig is 100% debauched. Lush as a smashed mouth…’

‘I had no politic. Means, I have no burning issue. Blurring genderlines? Bigotry? Cultural genocide? Dying planet? I can’t pick. My favourite form of movement is 'float'. I stand for nothing. I espouse nothing but Ruth. But my lover needed more roughage than coupledom could ever bring…’

‘... saying and doing things that will be forgotten tomorrow in collective amnesia. All that is inconceivable by day is easy by night…’

‘It’s amazing how long we can block out knowledge that is unpleasant...’

‘When I was younger, strange forces pulled me to the biology lab where rows of pickled lungs and hearts and waxen foetuses stood in jars. The tiny foetuses so tadpole, like it was easy to forget their connection with human beings. The larger ones, that almost made it, fingers and eyes closed on some frozen thought, lungs filled with yellow. Can palmists read the grooves on a formaldehyde baby's palm?...’

Speaking in her dreams to her roommate's aborted baby,
‘Nothing should live that isn’t a labour of great great love...’

‘Left to itself long enough, everything in the world withers, wastes, fades away to brown and grey. Tarpaulin and trash. Cinders and ash. Vegetables turn to potty. Red curtains turn colourlesss. Add to this, streams of men and women, like robots and slaves, in equally tired colours. We are scared of too much colour...’

‘Sitting on the water tank is always an exercise in fighting the desire to jump off the ledge. The longer I fight the feeling, the stronger I become, but the desire to jump will never leave. I guess everyone has a bird urge when they look down heights, a desire to jump, without wing or buoyant sail. Fear of heights is fear of a desire to jump…’


Sirisha said...

Interesting idea of conveying through pictures. Story could have been as novel as the idea, nothing more than what we get to see in the movies. Review is well written!

Ranjana said...

I had been following the author's blog for the longest time. Its true, the darkness sometimes gets to you, but i really liked what i read. She is very genuine and original i thought...