Graphicshelf in conversation with S. Anand

Famous for its scathing and unequivocal take on caste issues, Navyana is one rare gem of a publishing house which is not chasing ‘sales’ in a world rife with propaganda ridden or shallow content. More so, Navyana has not only written conventional textbooks about serious caste issues, it has also published exemplary graphic novels like A Gardener in the Wasteland and Bhimayana. Landmarks in graphic-based storytelling in India, both the books were received well critically and commercially, especially in the case of Bhimayana which went on to become the largest selling graphic novel in India.

Delighted as we were to review the books, we decided to reach out to the co-founder of Navyana, S. Anand. And much to our delight, he accepted our request for an interview, dedicating almost around three hours for the same. Extremely polite and witty, Mr. Anand is a man who is not only inspiring in terms of what he does but also how he talks about things unequivocally, touching on issues other artists and publishers would usually evade in a conversation.

Also, given the man he is, Mr. Anand made us some tea and snacks all by himself and made us feel comfortable by initiating a long informal chat about personal, and issues of national importance.

You can check out the interview below to learn about the hard work that masterpieces like Bhimayana require. 

On Early Influences


On thoughts on the graphic medium of narratives

On Conception and choice of art


On a Gardener in the Wasteland


On critical and commercial reception

About S. Anand:

S. Anand is the co-founder of the publishing house Navayana, that focuses on the issue of caste from an anti-caste perspective. S.Anand co-authored the celebrated graphic novel Bhimayana on the life of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, along with Srividya Natarajan. He was working with Outlook Magazine in 2003 when he felt the need of a publishing house in line with Ambedkar’s vision of an anti-caste society and went on to launch Navayana along with D.Ravikumar. Navayana won the British Council-London Book Fair International Young Publisher of the Year award in 2007 and continues amplifying subjugated voices.

About “Conversations” Series 

We live in an age where visual-storytelling is not only breathtakingly beautiful to see but also has commercial success associated with it. From animation, comics, graphic novels, to advertisement, branding, and education, design has become an indispensable part of an effective act of communication.

But how does one reach there? Before the glittery heavy paycheques and awe-inspiring products, one must go through years of intense training but even then, where to start? It is always helpful if one gets to speak with some of the best in the industry to know how one can design their own trajectory to learn design. Given the fact most of them are sipping their respective oceans of coffee while piling up paper-mountains of sketches and drafts in some cluttered studio somewhere in a big city, it is hard to catch hold of them.

That is why designed an informative series with the best designers and illustrators from India, to make this act of “reaching out for advice” more accessible.


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