Confessions of storytelling

It's no longer blogs or journals Chennaiites are changing the way autobiographies are told, seen and read.

The story starts out with a diary named after a yea; a mother's gift in which a pen scratched out descriptions of fights, secret crushes, fears and dreams — hidden under a blanket and torchlight. After that Blogspot, Wordpress and others took the place of tangible pages, where we painstakingly chose themes over two days and thought for longer about what to publish.

And the subject? Intimate and emotional narrations for the world to see, and that’s the beauty of it. Yet, Chennai has been a city dominated by a conservative mindset, therefore we have an excess of blogs on fashion, beauty, travel, culture, food, current affairs and other topics — not autobiographical ones. There have been ripples of change however, signs that Chennaiiyin audiences are indeed opening up to graphic novels, cartoons, vlogging and even music with a very personal touch.

Nivea Vivek, a design student, recently completed Blue Lemons, a heartwarming, graphic memoir for her college project. Two months and 48 pages later, with illustrations and storyline by her, Nivea got the courage to speak about being on her own in a new city, and her shy, introverted nature. “I wanted the graphic novel to be entirely mine — for me, by me. Entering college was one the biggest turning points in my life, and my target audience was young people,” the Chennaiite says.

Wasn’t she nervous about project? “It was the biggest step I had to take! But it is important to make yourself vulnerable in the book. Adding individuality is what elevates it from a generic graphic novel.” She goes on to add that the response was unexpected — she received messages from close friends, family and even strangers, appreciating the book’s complete honesty.

Anusha Swamy also believes the city is opening up about personal narrations in a public space. The dance choreographer, who also has a YouTube channel, spoke about cancer awareness when she shaved her head after her grandmother passed away from the disease. In the vlogs, she talks about her own experiences, albeit with her well-known humour and smile. “Negative comments happen everywhere, but I tend to look at them in a positive light. After those videos, I have even been called an attention-seeker, but in time people always change. The personal touch is very important and you should make the audience relate better to you,” she explains.

For city-based musician Kaber Vasuki, life is a huge source of inspiration for many of his lyrical compositions. “While I may not have gone through a major catharsis, I do put everything I feel into a song. Any person making a narrative inevitably includes a bit of himself or herself in the song,” he says. Then, there are also people like cartoonist Lakshman Balaji — he turns incidents from his life into humourous illustrations. “We’re all egomaniacs. We like to leave pieces of ourselves in our art. The very act of drawing things that are annoying, peculiar or depressing, is cathartic. I don’t feel vulnerable at all and it has to be taken in a light vein,” he sums up.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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