The book can be accessed on the Sarai Project website link below
Author: Bhagwati Prasad
Illustrator: Amitabh Kumar
Published: 2009 by The Sarai Programme
No. of Pages: 92
Genre: Social awareness
Subthemes: Water conservation
The graphic novel, Tinker. Solder. Tap, by Bhagwati Prasad and Amitabh Kumar is a well-illustrated novel, written in a lucid language. It transports the reader to the mid-80s, steadily and gradually outlining the rapid strides in technology. The novel consists of multiple protagonists, starting with Kallu who returns to the city of Delhi after 6 years and is astonished to see the metamorphosis in the city. Delhi is a changed city, with the advent of technology, which has made its place, permanently in the lives and homes of the city dwellers.
There is a flurry of activity at every street. Shopkeepers have given up their old businesses and are now engaged in the selling, buying, repairing, soldering or remodeling of VCRs, Cassette and CD players, Television sets and other electronic gadgets that are making their way into the market. This is indeed a very lucrative business and has enabled so many people to improve their fortunes in a very short span of time. The streets are bustling with excited customers, children, coolies, shopkeepers, juice sellers among many others. Earlier factory workers had to spend boring nights in the workshops, but now they can watch pirated movies for hours on end. Watching movies has become so easy that anyone can watch their favorite heroes in the latest blockbusters and heap praises on them.
The illustrations are in sync with the storyline. They are primarily black and white illustrations with shades of yellow and red interspersed at times to dissolve the monotony of monochrome and at other times, it marks a subtle transition from one narrative to another. The yellow also highlights certain important segments of the novel. There are sections in the novel where there is very little writing but the images of gadgets and film posters succinctly convey the message to the reader. Moreover, there is a wilful usage of recurrent imagery of VCRs, Televisions, cassette reels and cables to emphasise that it was the introduction of these machines in the 1980s that changed the scenario of the city.
Despite multiple narratives being present in the novel, the concluding part reintroduces the first protagonist of the plot, who is trying to come to terms with as well as welcome the changes he observes around him. Probably, it also serves as a message to the reader that change is indeed constant, and as we become comfortable with what exists, another transformation seems to be in the offing.
The transformation brought about by technology in the average Indian’s life has been effortlessly woven through a tightly packed narrative. The traditional modes of recreation and leisure faded because of this transition and an increased dependence on technology. The illustrations of intertwined cables, reels, cluttered stacks of CDs, crowded streets, seem to suggest that amidst all the change, a sense of chaos and disorder crept into the lives of people. When one is exposed to a plethora of choices, it is natural to be bewildered, and, that is the exact reaction Indians had when they saw a different world in the mid-1980s.