Life, illustrated

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Chatline Junuka Deshpande’s illustrations, documentaries and writing come straight out of her life experiences. That is the only way to be, she tells Pankaja Srinivasan

When Junuka Deshpande was 12, she posted an inland letter to Marathi writer Prakash Narayan Sant telling him how much she enjoyed his novel, Vanvaas . To her utter delight he responded, thanking her. She wrote him another letter. This time, she put it into a proper envelope and made little drawings on it before posting it. Sant was so impressed with the young girl’s drawings that he asked her to illustrate one of his stories. “The first two stories I illustrated were Aag-gadichya Rulanvar (On the rail road) and Sharda Sangeet . I was fortunate that I got to read the work that directly came from his heart. It was a silent conversation I had with the author as I read and drew. I was not very far from the age of the protagonist Lampan when I drew his world. I made simple black ball pen drawings. That work is still very, very dear to me. I also illustrated Sant’s next book Pankha (Fan) when I was 14.”

Junuka, who teaches at the DJ Academy of Design, Coimbatore, went to a Marathi medium school. “It was called Dahisar Vidya Mandir. I had a rare and wonderful drawing teacher, Ms. Swati Indulkar. She would come into class, hoist herself up on the table and say, ‘now draw me’. I remember spending an inordinate amount of time drawing just the border of her sari. She let us draw the way we wished. She would have a good word for every drawing. I will never forget how she wrote ‘ati sundar’ in one of my drawings,” she smiles. Swati was perhaps the catalyst for drawing becoming a part and parcel of Junuka’s life.

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