Wow, it feels good to be back here.
I think it’s been two years since I’d last written something here. I’ve been writing a lot along my photographs on my Instagram account (follow @watchherworld) (shameless plug, nametag to scan at the end), but that has mainly been random thoughts and short stories.
But I’ve been meaning to get back to these pages and I’m planning to develop it further. I might finally buy a domain for myself. Let me know in the comments if WatchHerWorld still sounds cool to you or should I look for some other name?
And now, to the book review.
Author: Atul Sethi
Illustrator: Vikas Upadhyay
Publisher : Puffin Books, Penguin Random House
Verdict : 6/10
The Magical Mussoorie.
‘Magic in Mussoorie.’
It’s catchy no?
Anyone who’s been here, stayed here, roamed it’s hilly streets, had the midnight icecream or Lovely’s omelette or thukpa from Kalsang; anyone who has frolicked in it’s snow, looked at the sky change colours, the winter line, the morning sun; anyone who has enjoyed a ride down the ‘Queen of Hills’, would immediately gravitate towards this super interesting looking comic book just for its name.
The cover page catches you as well. It has all the major elements of the story on it. You pick up the book and you look at an old book, two guys caught in the tornado, some kind of downward spiralling clock, a mystical monastery with people in Tibetan masks. Oh, and ofcourse, there’s Ruskin bond himself!
There’s a tiger, the two young boys playing cricket with a royal looking guy over the hills of Mussoorie on the back cover.
You immediately start wondering how the hell are all these things coming together? Every element is a little out of the ordinary, a little magical. The summary on the back cover introduces us to all the major plot points and promises a thrilling adventure ahead.
Nakul and Kuku, the two lead characters of the story are the typical protagonists. Nakul, a sincere, intelligent, curious, brave and a thin chap with glasses. Kuku, his foil. Round and short in appearance, always hungry, afraid of thunder, and a source of humour. Nothing very fresh here, to be honest.
But the charm of the story is not in its protagonists. This isn’t about them. This story is actually about Musoorie, and it’s place in history. It’s about the hidden stories and lesser known facts. It’s about adventure and exploration. And for someone who has been in Mussorie and has called it home, it is like visiting your everyday spots with a new lens on, witnessing the eventful past it holds.
“Nakul Sahej and his friend Kuku stumble upon an antique book while on holiday in Mussoorie. The book turns out to be a magical one that transports the two back in time to the
Mussoorie of over a century ago. Meeting historical personalities of that time-like Sir George Everest, who lives in a sprawling estate
on the outskirts of Mussoorie, as well as the young maharaja of Punjab, Duleep Singh, who has been exiled by the British and is spending a summer in the hill station-Nakul and Kuku get
involved in an intriguing adventure that sets off a series of events which can change the course of history!
Action-packed and unputdownable, this thrilling adventure is the first in a series of comic books set in the Garhwal Himalayas.”
The art brings back fond memories of the Amar Chitra Katha. It’s beautiful and detailed and what I liked is that each scene is covered from many different perspectives and angles. Wides, Mids, Closeups; as a filmmaker, I could readily identify that language. Vikas, who’s a Shimla based artist, has done a brilliant job on this one. (Vikas Upadhyay | Behance)
The language is pretty contemporary English with a few hindi lingos to go along with. Easy to read and enjoy.
I did find the end quite abrupt though. It left a lot of open plot points and seemed like a compromise to be honest. I understand that creating a comic book takes a lot of time. Each page, each frame of that page takes time and consequently money, to develop and the writer probably had reasons to close it at the 60 pages that is it at right now. Personally, however, I would’ve liked to know what happened to the characters from the past and what changed in the present, considering quite a lot would’ve been disrupted in the time-space continuum. And also, I did not see how the characters were affected by what all they went through. What changed within them, what did they learn? I think that is something that could be been worked on.
But then again, I might be judging a children’s book too harshly. All in all, Magic in Mussorie is a fun, brisk walk through the mystery and the history of the hilltop I call home. I would definitely recommend people, especially children to go through this and learn to look at their surroundings with eyes full of curiosity and wonder and search for their answers in every new corner, every new person, and every new sunset they see.
About the author
A journalist with over two decades of experience, most of which has been with the Times of India, Atul Sethi is currently chief of the newspaper’s bureaus in Uttarakhand. A keen lover of the mountains, he stays in the Himalayan foothills on the outskirts of Dehradun with his wife, twin children, four cats and a dog. This is his first comic book, which has been inspired by a love for all things historic and mystic as well as a passion for the ligne claire style of comic book storytelling developed by European artists of the 20th century, like Herge, the creator of Tintin.
Atul Sethi has answered a lot of questions related to the book and his journey at the book lauch organised by The Booknerds, a community of book readers and promotors whose goal is to help authors sell books. Check them out, they’ve been doing some good work for the literary souls. You can follow them on Instagram (@dbooknerds) and Facebook (The Booknerds | Facebook)
So, that was what I had to say about Magic in Mussorie. Let me know what you liked about it, what would you have liked me to explore more, how could I improve, and anything else that you’d like to tell me. Comment please!
And if you’d like to watch my world through my photographs and random stories , hit me up on Instagram. Thank-you for giving me this time, hope to see you back here soon. 😊