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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Modern love, illustrated

Lost in love or lost a love? Got lucky or getting picky? Swiped right but got left alone? Five artists illustrate the quirks of contemporary courtship - and the new rules of engagement.

brunch Updated: Sep 22, 2015 14:14 IST
Satarupa Paul
Satarupa Paul
Hindustan Times
Modern love, illustrated
Modern love, illustrated((Illustration: Sumit Kumar)

I’m on a date. And I’m so, so bored. But it’s Saturday night and I don’t want to go home yet. My phone buzzes: “One new match. Three new messages.” I text back, while my date rambles on about his enterprise/the stock market/something random. An hour later, I’m on another date. Passably fun.

In this world of digital romance, I cannot help but wonder, where is the love? The kind of love we grew up thinking about. You know, in Bryan Adams’ songs, Richard Gere-Julia Roberts movies and tattered copies of Mills & Boon? We’re living in a world of quick flings and quicker break-ups. Modern love is a vicious circle.

And so, instead of deconstructing it with thousands of words, we decided to construct it visually. We asked five illustrators/artists/cartoonists to interpret different stages of love as it exists today. The following pages will take you on an illustrated, guided tour of this brave new world of love.

Also, from the


team, I (that’s Satarupa Paul), Asad Ali and Monica Gupta exchanged notes on that important moment when the night draws to a close, and you find yourself closer to your date, wondering, “Coffee at my place? Or refrain now because there will always be ‘Time yet for a hundred indecisions’?”

Sumit Kumar
on modern love

Sumit is a Delhi-based cartoonist and author of the webcomic Bakarmax and the paperback

The Itch You Can’t

, which is “a self-effacing, honest view of the life of a young, confused man suffering from an acute case of the itch you can’t scratch”.

Sumit is in love with a girl he met in office but didn’t “maaro line until she left”. He suffers from the age-old problem of low self-esteem: “Given how I look, it took me some time to convince her,” he says. “I had been alone long enough. There was no coolness in it. I would rather fill my world with chaos than be silent and bored. Being in a relationship is like white water rafting.” Apparently, Sumit is not very far away from his “happily ever after”.

Abhijeet Kini
on finding love in the time of dating apps

A Mumbai-based illustrator, animator and independent comics publisher, Abhijeet is known for his comic series


– a trilogy about a sari-pallu-tucked-in-the-waist firebrand with serious combat skills.

Abhijeet is married, because “love found us” – through the help of good ol’ relatives and the newer Internet. But before all that, he didn’t have an easy time finding love. “Once, I tried asking, ‘What is love?’ and ended up begging, ‘Don’t hurt me, no more!’”

His advice on finding love: “Don’t. It’ll happen when it’ll happen. And that’s when you’ll mistake it to be a stomach bug, ’cause your gut will be exploding.” He’s still suffering from diarrhoea after all these years.

Romance Aaj Kal

on modern romance and dating

Hindustan Times’

famous in-house illustrator for a decade and counting, Jayanto started cartooning very early – on bathroom walls. He graduated to comic strips for children’s books, political cartoons, illustrations, posters and advertisements.

Almost misty-eyed, he recounts the good old days of good old romance, “We had no mobile phones in our time. We used to write letters. My handwriting really improved, you know?”

He went on his first date when he was still in school. “She loved ice-cream. We shared one. I contracted her throat infection even though there was no kissing.” A romantic at heart, he once plucked some wild flowers from the wild boar enclosure in Lucknow zoo! “It could very well have been my last date!”

Satarupa Paul, Asad Ali and Monica Gupta exchanged notes on that important moment when the night draws to a close, and you find yourself closer to your date, wondering, “Coffee at my place? Or refrain now because there will always be ‘Time yet for a hundred indecisions’?”

Anish Daolagupu
on the dilemma of commitment

Anish is an Ahmedabad-based storyteller and illustrator. He has been drawing for as long as he can remember. He has been eating (a lot!) for as long as he can remember.

That is, since he had his first brush with his first love: chicken! “Ever since I laid my eyes on that bird, I knew we were meant to be together forever,” he says. He has just decided to commit to his first love. “I did go through the usual dilemmas: ‘What about other meats?’ ‘I can’t eat chicken my entire life! A man needs some variety!’ But once I made up my mind, I knew that whenever I would want it, I’d always get it. Reliability and stability – that’s what you get with chicken. You can’t get that with any other meat.”



Arya Kumar Sharma
on modern break-ups

A Delhi-based artist and illustrator, Arya also sings, strums the guitar and recites Ghalib – not necessarily in that order. Arya first got his heart broken in school, when he started “getting funny feelings in his stomach for this girl I was great friends with.”

But, just like those teen flicks, he never told her and she started dating someone else, “It was so painful. So bloody painful!” Ever since, he himself has broken many hearts but still feels that “getting your heart broken than doing the breaking is more difficult, because in some ways we’re all self-centered and its always sadder when things happen to you.”

Follow @satarupapaul on Twitter

From HT Brunch, August 30
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First Published: Aug 28, 2015 16:09 IST