Learn to read between the lines of a graphic novel in this workshop by artist Jai Undurti

  • Poorva Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 29, 2015 19:21 IST
A shattered Char Minar in Hyderabad, from Jai Undurti’s The Robots of Dharma (Stan Chou; Neeraj Menon; Jai Undurti)

Imagine a dystopian, futuristic India. A very Mad Max: Fury Road– esque Hyderabad. However, instead of the crazed Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron), this world has spiritual robots that function within the realms of religion. Now imagine iconic film director Satyajit Ray narrating this bizarre sci-fi thriller, in his signature style — limpid and masterfully structured. Only, this isn’t a film. This is the comic book, The Robots of Dharma, created by artist and writer Jai Undurti, set to release in mid-2016.

Growing up, Undurti’s introduction into the world of comics was the Belgian comic, Tintin. The series follows a journalist and his pet dog, Snowy, through various adventures. Coincidentally, Undurti, too, is a travel journalist by profession and graphic art is his hobby. “The formats offer a nice mix — when you hit a roadblock while writing comics, you can switch to writing an article and vice versa,” he says. “It’s all about telling a story. ”

A sketch from Undurti’s Hyderabad: A Graphic Novel (Harsho Mohan Chattoraj; Neeraj Menon; Jai Undurti )

It was this familiarity with storytelling that enabled Undurti to create Hyderabad: A Graphic Novel, his first published work. The novel released in 2014 and received rave reviews for its unique narrative featuring Egyptian catacombs, the Stonehenge and freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak.

This weekend, Hyderabad-based Undurti is travelling to Mumbai to host a comic decoding workshop. “While reading a comic, your imagination and memory work together. Decoding is the understanding of this process, to better understand the making of the comic,” he says. Interestingly, the session will also delve on aspects of filmmaking and architecture. “Comics are a unique medium that take inspiration from a lot of other art forms. We also use cinematic terms like ‘establishing shot’ or ‘medium close-up’ when the script for a comic is written; this is where filmmaking comes in,” explains Undurti.

Undurti is upbeat about the future of Indian graphic art. “Internationally, the raw content for films, graphic novels and other visual content is sourced out of the same creative pool. We haven’t yet evolved to this stage. However, over the last few years, Indian artists (see box) have created gripping original content. That is a positive sign,” he says.

This sketch of Elephanta Caves, Mumbai was drawn exclusively for HT 48Hours, by Harsho Mohan Chattoraj


What: Making Comics — a workshop on writing and decoding comics will be conducted on October 31, 5pm onward

Where: Trilogy, Raghuvanshi Mills Compound, Lower Parel

Call: 80805 90590

Price: Rs 1,000 per person

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