Lit for Life

Manjula Padmanabhan described the evolution of Suki in her illustrated talk

Manjula Padmanabhan is not just an award-winning playwright and novelist, she is also an artist and illustrator. And a cartoonist. At her illustrated talk titled ‘Suki Speaks: A Cartoon Character Shares her Journey’, held on the first day of The Hindu Lit for Life, she reminisced about the evolution of her character Suki, who stars in the weekly strip, ‘Sukiyaki’, published in The Hindu Business Line.

Suki started out in the pages of The Pioneer: the whimsical daily strip earned the paper both love and hate mails, in which both Padmanabhan and the paper’s editor, Vinod Mehta, revelled. Having the space of a daily strip was a tremendous luxury, she said. Suki originally was a kind of alter ego, and people Padmanabhan knew would appear in the strip too, albeit under different names. Once, both Padmanabhan and her character went on vacation, and even when the creator came back, Suki continued to holiday. People she knew expressed surprise at her being in town; it was at this point that Padmanabhan realised that Suki was becoming her own person. Over time, she developed “her own life and friends, her own views and opinions.” But she has stayed the same age, in her 20s.

Padmanabhan expanded on the process of creation, describing both the tools she uses (photocopy paper, pencil, pen, then a scanner and a computer), and the way she creates (often thinking of words much ahead of the drawing, the whole taking sometimes five hours, with most of that spent composing the text). “There is a great difference between words like sketch, illustration, drawing, cartoon strip,” she said. “The text is very much part of the cartoon. Without that, it’s just a drawing.”

Where did Suki get her name? “At the time I created her, I knew I wanted a short name, a pet name, not the name of someone I knew, no identifiable communal background.” And why is the current strip, which brought the character back after many years of “chilling,” called Sukiyaki? She grinned. “Sukiyaki has Suki in it. It is the name of a dish, which we know, and it has yak in it, which she likes to do. A really bad pun.”

peter.griffin@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 9:37:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/lit-for-life/manjula-padmanabhan-described-the-evolution-of-suki-in-her-illustrated-talk/article26048831.ece

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