KOCHI: Hers is a story worth revisiting. Through fiction, biographies, and novellas, Indira Gandhi’s life has been dissected in detail. Now, taking her story to a whole new level is the Delhi-based author Devapriya Roy and comic illustrator Priya Kuriyan through their joint book ‘Indira’, a prose-cum-graphic work. It gives an interesting peek into the life and times of India’s late Prime Minister. Devapriya, who is the author of ‘The Heat And Dust Project, and ‘The Weight Loss Club’, among other books, while Priya Kuriyan, who is known more for her work as a children’s illustrator, say they are associating for the first time.
The book is being published by Context, a new literary imprint launched by Amazon-Westland and headed by V K Karthika.I hear the story focuses on a young girl named Indira Thapa who is sent on an unusual assignment by her favourite teacher: to write an essay around her name. (Over the course of a long, hot summer and a curious friendship with an artist who is working on a biography of Mrs Gandhi, young Indira gets tangled up in the life and times of her memorable namesake)
At the heart of it, the book is a biography of Indira - and that was the initial brief. Mrs Gandhi’s birth centenary year saw several new biographies being published, and ours was going to be one of them. The novella emerged later, in order to provide a fresh lens to the story of Indira, that would appeal to millennials. The biography part is in panels; the interleaving prose narrative is a fictional device set in present-day Delhi.
So, how did you, an illustrator and Devapriya, an author get together to work for Indira?
As we keep joking, ours is an ‘arranged marriage’. We had never worked together before. Karthika, who published the book, thought we might work well together as a team, even though Devapriya was completely new to the graphic form and I had never considered doing a biography. But once we started working together, the chemistry was just right and we influenced each other greatly as we shaped the narrative.
How long was this book in the pipeline?
This book took one-and-a-half years to be completed, and another few months of research on Devapriya’s part before beginning the book.
Is this a book for young children?
It’s meant for all ages. The biography part is about 80 per cent of the book and is entirely factual. It has been researched deeply.
What were the challenges both of you faced in your individual capacities?
For Devapriya, the challenge was in the nature of the research. The book required intense research into the life and times of Indira - and it meant a great deal of work. The other challenge was to select the details which would go into the final narrative, since unlike other biographies that run into hundreds of pages, this had to be done differently. So, a great deal of detailing went into the panels rather than into the words as we wanted to depict things accurately.
When will it be released?
The book will hit the stores by the end of February but is up for pre-order right now.