Let’s face it, a cartoonist whose work has received praise from the greatest of them all—the great R K Laxman—as work that shows great promise needs no endorsement or book review from me.
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Price: Rs. 299
But I chose to write this review for the recently released book of cartoons called “The Politickle Pickle” by Shreyas Navare as my sincere and impartial offering to the reader of a book worth reading and keeping. One to which you will return to again and again.
Well, first of all cartoonists are a rare breed and a good political cartoonist, the rarest of them all. I personally think that Shreyas is one of the best amongst the current crop and perhaps the one who is destined for true greatness in his craft because his work displays three qualities that are the hallmark of greatness:
Simplicity, exactitude, and lightness. Let me explain what I mean.
Simplicity, because his cartoons and his alter ego (Zero) wander into our world in a simple and spare style asking uncomfortable questions and sparing nothing and no one, pointing out the hollowness of our political system and how we are complicit in it all, without once losing his sense of inner happiness and hope and better still imbuing us with its ebullient effervescence.
Exactitude, as his work is an evocation of clear, incisive, memorable visual imagery combined with an exact and precise choice of words that display not just an innate maturity of expression but subtleties of thought and imagination that is exceptional in one so young.
Lightness—not the lightness of frivolity but a weightless gravity that does not bog you down. Inderjit Hazra speaks of the angry young man quality of his cartoons in his introduction in the book. This is because Shreyas carries the reality that is India today within him, feels what we feel and accepts it as his particular burden and in the process lightens our load. We identify with Tuktuk’s questions as they are a metaphor for the common citizen’s daily anger, agony, and frustrations and yet one that offers us a beacon of hope. As I turned each page of Politickle Pickle there was a stone in my heart, a lump in my throat and yet a smile on my face that made it all worthwhile.
I am tempted to cite Milan Kundera’s book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, to illustrate my point. It is a book which is all about the bitter confirmation of the ineluctable weight of living and the all pervading frustration and hopelessness of the human condition. Whenever you are condemned by this feeling of heaviness you can pick up Politickle Pickle or look at any cartoon from Shreyas to escape to an alternative space not as an act of escapism but one where you look at things with a different perspective—of lightness that is thoughtfulness and hope.
You can safely buy this book and it will be money well spent. Not because cartoonists are an endangered species who need all the help that they can get but, because in it you will find a constant companion who will give you solace with a smile. And we need all the smiles that we can get.
Queen Bee (and if you have not figured it already, a fan of Shreyas Navare).