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Manjula's Latest Escape

Manjula Padmanabhan’s name reminds one of good writing and cartoons. She is the woman behind the comic strip Suki and futuristic play Harvest, which was also made into a film of the same name by Govind Nihalani Sunanda Pati met up with this award winning playwright who was in town to promote her new book 'Escape' that gloomily describes a world bereft of women.

Was there a call from within when you start working on a book or a cartoon strip?
Yes, but there must also be "a call from outside", what I mean is that there must be an editor or a publisher who is interested in the writer/cartoonist's work. Many people seem to forget that writers, cartoonists and others like them depend on the publishing industry to make a living. They must have the active and friendly support of publishers in order to make the work available to readers. I am always asked why I don't continue my strip and I always say it's because there are no newspapers or magazines that are interested in carrying it.

How different is writing for adults from writing for children in terms of approach?
 It's really quite different. Most of my work is not suitable for children, but I've written two novels for young readers. The main difference is of course trying to avoid the darkness that is such an integral part of my writing, even when I'm being funny, there's a subversive edge. That subversive edge is visible in the two children's books I've written called Mouse Attack and Mouse Invaders, but it's less obvious. I try to keep the language more direct and the descriptions aimed at a child's range of perceptions. For instance, if I write about food, it'll be the kind of food I liked as a child. In fact, that's probably the main point: when I write something for children, I aim the story at me-as-a-child. I have extremely clear memories of my childhood, of my own likes and dislikes, of my taste in reading.

Could there be a story where Suki and Meiji, the protagonist of escape meet? If yes, how would their interaction be?
Unlikely! But that's a cute question, thank you for asking it. They belong to very different worlds. Suki is part of my world, whereas Meiji belongs to a time and place in which none of us today would be able to exist. In Escape, we only get a very limited impression of what sort of person Meiji might grow up to be. She would probably be very troubled and not much fun to spend time with.

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Tags: Manjula Padmanabhan, Govind Nihalani, Cartoons, Meiji

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