27 October 2009

Tinker.Solder.Tap by Amitabh Kumar and Bhagwati Prasad

Media affects our lives in many ways
Tinker.Solder.Tap is a graphic novel with graphics by Amitabh Kumar and text by Bhagwati Prasad. The book was funded by Sarai, and you can download it free here. Like most of the other graphic novels I’ve read, this one gives an accurate impression of a particular culture, and to me this was its most striking feature. I also found the graphics superb.
Since I’m a traditional and rather manic reader, I tend to rush ahead and concentrate more on the text than images but do realize that in a graphic novel the illustrations are often works of art and deserve focused attention, such as this one which depicts Mother India holding her arm up – balancing a video cassette on it.
Another clever one was the conceptualisation of a map transforming from blurry to integrated-circuit designry as the internal relationship of the character to these places changes. In a graphic novel, the language should be secondary and perform the function of sign posts.
Though there was a certain amount of economy applied here which I appreciate, it upset me that there was careless use of grammar, something which shows a lack of production standards and which I consider unforgivable.
Sarai says that the protagonists of Tinker.Solder.Tap bring alive the ways in which the relationship between life and the media has been re-scripted in the various neighbourhoods of our cities (here).
However, to me this book was more about how our struggles for survival in this country bring out the entrepreneur in us and give us the ability to nimbly adapt to new technology and put it promptly to commercial use.
When I started reading, I imagined the story to be based in a small town. Only after I had read two-thirds did I realize that the location was actually New Delhi! This brought the insight that our cities’ suburbs are identical in outlook and culture to our towns and villages. One of the most attractive things about this book is that it portrays life in these towns and suburbs, with their rituals and customs, very well.

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