I made my way to Leaping Windows cafe in Indira Nagar at 4 pm on Saturday, 2nd November 2013, to attend the “Making of the Hyderabad Graphic Novel” by author Jai Undurti.
I’ve not read a graphic novel so far, but after attending this session, my curiosity is sufficiently piqued to remedy the situation ASAP.
This graphic novel is a confluence of urban legends and bazaar gossip around the city of Hyderabad. The inspiration for the book’s theme is derived from a conversation the author had with an auto driver discussing the metro rail project .The auto driver said they couldn’t construct the tracks underground due to the existence of a city underground.To the author, this brought about the connection that an underground city represents desires, which can’t be expressed in broad daylight, suggesting mythical creatures that lie dormant in its unfathomable depths.
The concept of an ‘underground city’ is also reminiscent of underground bunkers that people envisioned to survive nuclear attacks.Books like ‘Journey to the center of the earth’ by Jules Verne also served as inspiration. Combining this concept of an underground city with the “treasure mania” that persists in Hyderabad, the author came up with the story for this graphic novel.
His brief to the designer was to introduce the serpent motif, which was both esoteric and a representation of the metro—as a snake that encircles itself around the city.
This graphic novel is a juxtaposition of facts and fiction. Ideas exist independently, but when thrown together, help spin an intricate yarn. Some of the urban legends that helped shape this novel include the story of digging for treasure in Hyderabad. As the story goes, if a person dug for treasure and he was not from the original bloodline of the person who buried the treasure, it would lead to the treasure “moving away” from the person excavating it.
The legend of the lost children of Allah Banda, which talks about the locals blocking the entrance to a labyrinthine cave to prevent children from wandering into it and getting lost; the secret tunnels of Golconda fort , which sparked ideas of portals to an alternate space-time continuum; with Charminar being the nexus point; the tale of the naga cities – bhogvathy ; Roerich’s expedition to Central Asia; a poem written by a Persian poet in the 13th century by the name “Conference with birds”; the idea of an auto that travels through time; an attar seller outside the masjid in Hyderabad; the legends of poets’ tables ; the story of “fish medicine”—this is some of the folklore that has gone into creating this work of art.
As the author puts it, every stone in Hyderabad has a tale to tell. It’s a city steeped in tradition, folklore, and mysteries.
The author talks about “the creation myth” of cities and says that every city speaks a language. The author wants to replicate this model for other Indian cities and create a graphic novel based on the folklore of those cities as well. Now, that would be something to look forward to!
For more information on this project, visit: http://hgnp.wordpress.com/