Imagine a story based in and on our city that takes you on a nostalgic ride while providing a commentary on the places and its people. Simon Lamouret, a French illustrator and graphic novelist residing in the city is behind one such project – a graphic novel called Bangalore, something that truly invokes all of the ooru’s sensibilities. Up for a release in France next month with a city release soon after, Simon tells us more about the novel.
“Coming to this city was really a fluke. I came here to join a design college as faculty,” he says. In the three years that he has been here, Simone tells us that Bengaluru has influenced him in a number of ways, while offering him a fresh start. “I didn’t know a single person and that’s something I wanted to experience – to start life from scratch and to get out of my comfort zone,” he says. The graphic novel isn’t your conventional story. “There are 24 short stories because I wanted to cover Bengaluru, not just through its space but also through time. Each story is set at a different time of the day to emphasise the changes that occur in the city,” says Simon.
According to him, you can also catch a glimpse of his personal interpretation of details that you might have missed in bustling Bengaluru – how a rich man overfeeds his Labrador and over-decorates his house, how a chaiwala turns into a ballerina dancer while walking around the people sleeping in a train station or how a man is drawn to paint gods on a wall to prevent passers-by to urinate on it, for instance. “There are also more factual subjects like the police corruption and violence I have witnessed, or like descriptions of the traffic. You’ll also find lighter stories like how a street dentist offered me his services one day,” explains Simon, giving us an insight into his collection of anecdotes etched in Indian ink and soft pencils.
What’s interesting to note is that these are all on-spot illustrations and not based on photographs, and the places he hung out at aren’t your typical social hubs – think busy streets, under flyovers and even the scrap market at Shivajinagar! “There’s something about the rust, dust and mess that carries me away,” he muses. Simon has also made the most of his time in the city – a potpourri of pub crawls, attending good jazz gigs and Hindustani classical recitals and exploring rural areas around Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala by bus or his Bullet. Now, 2017 is packed with him presenting at exhibitions around France and Switzerland and his book’s ‘harvest’, like he calls it. He is also working on his next graphic novel – also based in Bengaluru! “I wouldn’t reveal too much but it’s a fictional story that is set amongst the migrant construction workers that we see at the corner of every street in the city,” he reveals, now spending as much time with them as possible, for a faithful depiction of characters....