Shisir Basumatari explores character of litterateur MuninBarkotoki in new graphic novel

Shisir Basumatari explores character of litterateur MuninBarkotoki in new graphic novel Guwahati, Nov 10 (PTI) A character based on afamous litterateur of Assam, Munin Barkotoki, serves as thebackground of a mystery graphic novel, 'The Real MrBarkotokoi', released at the ongoing Northeast Book Fair.

Assamese artist-writer Shisir Basumatari said thatafter dabbling with the idea of making a movie and then abiography, eventually he felt that a graphic novel would be anappropriate medium to tell a complex story.

'Munin Barkotoki had a terrible handwriting and it wasthe scattered information, which I could decipher from hishandwritten diaries that got me hooked into the project,'Basumatari, who also works with body painting and photography,said.

He hoped the book finds acceptance despite its unusualyet entertaining form.

The book published by 'Speaking Tiger' is a projectundertaken with Munin Barkotoki Memorial Trust.

Meenaxi Barkotoki, managing trustee, Munin BarkotokiMemorial Trust, said that she hoped that this 'very specialbook' will get the attention of the readers.

'My father would have been very proud of thisbeautiful book and especially thrilled that his terriblehandwriting was what got the ball rolling,' she said.

Eminent writer Arup Kumar Dutta, who released thebook, said it is ironic that he has spent a lifetime rantingand raving against any kind of work that devalues the writtenword but 'I accepted to release the book as I am impressed bythe hard work of ten years put in by the writer.

'As a writer and power of words, I think while wordstend to stimulate our creative imagination, visuals tend tostultify that creative imagination. As far as this book isconcerned, the most striking aspect of the book is that it isalso a work of art and I forgive you for giving so few wordsand giving so many images.' He said the book belongs to the noir genre (and) ifone looks at the novel, it is totally dark and the atmospherethus created through his art is of a surreal kind.

'It is less of a graphic novel and more of an art andthere is an unseen almost latent whimsicality and humour inthe way he has drawn the figures. The draftsmanship isexcellent,' he said.

The book is about a young man who is troubled byrecurring dreams of visiting the mysterious Munin Barkotoki,a God-fearing man.

Later, at a scrap dealers shop, when he accidentallyunearths a book by the very same person, he is shocked andintrigued as the man of his dreams happens to be very real,albeit deceased, and a famous Assamese writer and critic.

Determined to get to the bottom of this mystery, theyoung man teams up with his friend, Capt D and Dr Das, apsychologist, to piece together the identity of thisreclusive, enigmatic figure.

Through his hypnosis sessions with Dr. Das, andrifling through Barkotokis diaries and speeches, he attemptsto decipher one of the 'brightest lights' of Assameseliterature.

He uncovers inspiring details from the youngBarkotokis formative years, such as his fearless literaryactivism during British rule.

Basumatari also discovers Barkotokis quirks, like hisfamous walk to the District Library in Guwahati at exactly thesame time every day, and his bad handwriting, which editorsand readers had a hard time in deciphering.

And yet, each step that the young man takes, leads toa dead end, leaving him with no choice but to undertake ajourney across time and space, with ghostly magistrates andflying cars. PTI DGMM MM