MiraBai, Razia Sultan, Mother Theresa, Kalpana Chawla and Rani Lakshmibai come together in a frame at the Patel Chowk Metro Station, while the Delhi Metro and the Lotus temple form the backdrop. The walls of the Metro Museum at the station are dotted with several other iconic characters from Amar Chitra Katha, from Shambu and Kalia – The Crow to Suppandi, and from Defective Detectives, as the publisher marks its 50 years.
Coinciding with 50 years of Amar Chitra Katha, children’s literature festival Bookaroo is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, in November. So, as part of Bookaroo’s new wall art initiative titled “Bookscapes in the City” that started on May 31, they aim to decorate 10 prominent walls in and around Delhi over the next few months, depicting art and illustrations from children’s books. These will be created with the help of publishing houses and illustrators from across the country.
Paying a tribute to the illustrators whose works bring alive the characters in children’s books, M Venkatesh, Festival Director of Bookaroo, says, “Art in children’s books is barely recognised and the author gets all the kudos. They hardly have a platform to showcase book art. We thought of this initiative to pay an ode to the illustrators in public. Since people are instantly attracted to art, Delhi’s street art being the finest example, they will begin to question and instantly engage around it.”
Bookaroo’s next stop is the wall of a juvenile deaddiction centre at Kingsway Camp, run by Delhi-based NGO Society for Promotion Of Youth & Masses (SPYM), followed by Delhi Public Library in Ashok Vihar and Sarojini Nagar. Venkatesh points out that several publishing houses have joined in to give wings to the project, including Eklavya from Bhopal, Penguin and DK.
Recalling their more than seven-year-long association with Bookaroo, Mumbai-based Savio Mascarenhas, Group Art Director at Amar Chitra Katha, says, “Ten years of Bookaroo coincided with 50 years of our existence and so, we wanted to depict everything that Amar Chitra Katha stands for — including legendary characters handpicked from Tinkle, Indian mythology and famous figures.”
Mascarenhas adds, “The entire mural (at Patel Chowk Metro Station) depicts 50 years of Amar Chitra Katha. Charbak Dipta, a freelance artist who works for us, has helped us create this 8ft×7ft mural. Since we have done titles on Kalpana Chawla and Mother Teresa, one can spot them in the work. There is Razia Sultan too, because she was the first female ruler in Delhi. And the Lotus Temple and the Delhi Metro are integral to the Capital.”
Venkatesh says the reason they chose to paint the wall at SPYM’s juvenile centre is simple: to reach out to children who can’t access art. “We don’t want it to be posh or elitist,” he says, adding, “A wall was installed at the Metro Museum in collaboration with DMRC because groups of children often come to visit the museum. Metro travellers who are passing by can also stop by, and we get the time to explain to them what Bookaroo is all about.