Food and comic books. Rajkamal Aich isn't a fan of either.
And yet the Kolkata born-Delhi based artist's new Indian Superheroes series features half snack, half man characters like the Idli Man and Jalebi Women. "I was trying to pin down something that represents the different parts of India, and thought costumes would be too cliched. Food on the other hand is distinct, instantly relatable and of integral importance anywhere you go in the country," he says.
An art consultant for the Economic Times, Rajkamal started this project two months ago, and has a ton of work to show for this short time. “I’m really quite boring. I don’t eat out much. I stay home a lot,” he says. You can reap the benefits of his Saturday nights spent in, in the form of art prints that can be bought off his Facebook page.
So Laddoo Boy for instance, is really Laltu Sen who can throw laddoos with great speed and deadly accuracy. Jalebi Woman aka Mishti Bose dunks enemies in sugar syrup before tying them in knots.
A flip through the work here and you’ll try and contest his “boring” claim as you meet superheroes fashioned around samosas, idlis, laddoos, jalebis and even kaju katli. Each comes with a real-life name and superpower. So Laddoo Boy for instance, is really Laltu Sen who can throw laddoos with great speed and deadly accuracy. Jalebi Woman aka Mishti Bose dunks enemies in sugar syrup before tying them in knots. For all its silliness, the artwork is stylised, which is what makes these prints fun to own and a great addition to the kitchen wall.
Our favourite though, is the slightly gaunt, pasty-faced dhoti-kurta wearing bespectacled Bengali Vampire, a newspaper under one arm, a bag of vegetables in the other hand. Rajkamal calls him Rosomoy Ganguly and has “big plans for him”. He’s thinking of a graphic novel, full length animated film, maybe even merchandise, but before all that, the Indian Superheroes series has an immediate goal. “To make grown ups crack a smile and make kids more imaginative. I’d love to see a child eating mishti doi and turning the pot into a superhero!” says Rajkamal, who's a Calvin and Hobbes fan.
At the end, Rajkamal retreats to food, talking once again about how he’s really not that into it, but is pining for a mom-cooked meal from Kolkata. So he really is into food. The kind he doesn’t at will just turn into villains in this series. “Watch out for the menacing French Fry Guy,” he says.
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