The new A-Z of Indian cinema

As I scroll down the Instagram page, illustrator Vibha Surya’s work Paper Bugs holds my attention.

Published: 11th April 2020 06:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th April 2020 06:31 AM   |  A+A-

Vibha Surya

Express News Service

CHENNAI: A sketch of actors Kamal Haasan and R Madhavan seated on a bench, from the iconic Tamil film Anbe Sivam, set against a graphical backdrop of the alphabet A, reminds us of the unconventional bond shared between the characters Nallasivam and Anbarasu in the film. As I scroll down the Instagram page, illustrator Vibha Surya’s work Paper Bugs holds my attention. Using the hashtag  36daysoftypeseries, the alphabets are presented in a new light, combining cinema and nostagia — B for Bombay, C for Chhapaak, D for Dangal.. till Z for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Originally started by two designers, Nina Sans and Rafa Goicoechea from Spain in 2013, the 36 Days of Type Series challenged illustrators, designers and typographers across the world to interpret alphabets from A to Z and numbers 0 to 1 in creative ways.

“A few years back, I took part in this challenge but once I started I realised how difficult it was and stopped halfway through. This year, after getting inspired by other artists and encouragement from friends I wanted to give it another shot,” shares Vibha, a graduate in Bachelor of Visual Arts from Stella Maris College and Masters in Children’s Literature and Illustration from Goldsmiths, University of London. The challenge was announced earlier in March this year. Vibha’s initial idea was to sketch Indian female goddesses but the topic was too vast to complete. After much deliberation, she decided to use movies to draw a connect with her followers, hoping that she could introduce Indian cinema to the non-Indian audience.

“I wanted to incorporate some character for the challenge and ended up choosing Indian cinema. I initially wanted to do only Tamil cinema but it was too constraining so I chose Hindi as well. My movie-buff friends helped me curate the list,” shares Vibha. People and places inspire Vibha. In her current obsession with the colours of Tamil Nadu, this feisty illustrator includes bright green, yellow houses, the typical jamakalams, the delightful kolam and the intriguing drishti bommais. With innovation as her constant companion, two years back, Vibha created a food journal titled Kiaan - Recipes from India, which was a continuation of her graduation project of illustrated Indian recipe books. “Since I didn’t come across any illustrated Indian cookbook then, I chose to focus only desi dishes.

Later, for the sheer joy of illustrating food, I started the food journal by illustrating my favourite food from other cuisines. Another interesting and recent project I worked on was for a client, who wanted me to illustrate and design playing cards, inspired by cricket for the IPL, which was called off due to the ongoing crisis, but later decided to focus on international cricket for a stronger appeal,” says Vibha, who’s got her hands full with commercial illustration projects. Vibha is currently keen on illustrating children’s books. Her favourite part of the job is seeing the world through the eyes of a child. “It also challenges me a lot, making me rethink twice or thrice about what I want to illustrate, as children can be brutally honest. My higher education in the field happened by chance. My seniors from an advertising agency where I interned and my friends suggested my work is ideal for children. I was lucky and grateful to learn from world-renowned children’s book illustrators and being offered five books from leading publishers from India to work on,” says Vibha. For details, visit Instagram page: Paperbugs_17

India Matters


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