“The root to your roots,” a punch line for the famous comic book series Amar Chitra Katha proved to be the foundation of Dr. Aryak Guha’s doctoral dissertation that he presented as a paper named ‘Past Perfect: Representing the Indian Past in Comics’ at the Centre for Comparative Literature in the School of Humanities (UoH) on February 9.
Dr. Aryak Guha, Fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, described the role Amar Chitra Katha played in the construction of childhood post independence. He had worked with Amar Chitra Katha in the past and spoke of the comic book series being based mostly on historic characters and stories that also tried to invoke a Nehruian vision. He identified Anant Pai, creator of Amar Chitra Katha, as a pioneer in Indian comics and instrumental in maintaining the credibility of this series. Dr. Guha also recalled buying an issue of Amar Chitra Katha for just six rupees in 1990 before its end in the following year. He went on to discuss his paper that was specific to two issues that he extracted from the head office in Mumbai to do his research. The issues were based on a pair of siblings who uncover India’s illustrious past through the ruins of a city.
Dr. Deepa Srinivas, Head, Centre for Women’s Studies (UoH), was the chair and discussant for the talk and brought up some of her own experiences while interacting with the speaker and audience. The discussion deemed artistic freedom as being context specific and something that changes accordingly and ended with a unanimous conclusion that more research should be done on similar topics.
-Shaima Mansoor, MA-Communication