Artist Profile: Annushka Hardikar

Ink, wit and colour


News - India & You

October 21, 2017

/ By / Kolkata

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Annushka Hardikar's Oh Nari So Sanskari captured the web for its satire, wit and colourful take on female characters from the Mahabharata

Annushka Hardikar’s Oh Nari So Sanskari captured the web for its satire, wit and colourful take on female characters from the Mahabharata

Annushka Hardikar, whose zine Oh Nari So Sanskari garnered much attention, speaks about her journey and inspiration.

Graphic novels and zines, in India, are evolving slowly through the years. Mythology has been one subject of interest to both forms of storytelling, apart from themes ranging from the political to the personal. Annushka Hardikar, who studied in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, created waves with a university project which has been converted into a zine, titled Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’, dealing with the treatment of women in epics. A workaholic by nature Hardikar shares her inspiration and journey ahead.

Hardikar shares how she began the journey into art at a young age, majorly inspired by her mother and sister, both of whom are artists. “I always enjoyed doodling my dreams, thoughts and weird ideas. I remember one practice that I follow till date is making birthday cards for my family and friends with ‘Annu Arts’ signed at the back! So when it was time to narrow down options for graduation courses, I applied to design colleges, and eventually landed at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru.”

An illustration from Annushka Hardikar's Oh Kari So Sanskari

An illustration from Annushka Hardikar’s Oh Nari So Sanskari

Hardikar’s Oh Nari, So Sanskari, with vivid, vibrant images combined with witty captions, captured the attention of the web, garnering media coverage and social media shares. She recalled the beginning of which evaluates the female characters in a satirical way, that can be found in the story of Mahabharata, “In my final semester at the grad school, students from different specialisations were brought together to work on an umbrella thesis project. Mine was called ‘Unburdening Mythology’, and I was largely looking at Indian Mythology from a perspective that was never touched upon.”

She added, conveying the essence of this zine, parts of which can be explored through her personal site, “I felt that the female characters were grossly underrepresented and were in reality far more capable than as they were portrayed – weak, submissive, and dependent. ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’ is my attempt at addressing the need of accurate representation of the women in the epic so it remains relevant through the future generations.”

Challenges and the road ahead

As is the case with most feminist and female-centric work in India, Hardikar faced a challenge. She shares, “It was slightly challenging because I was treading on a very fine line between content that was humorous and offensive. I had to be very careful because the characters in the epic were so celebrated and well known in one-dimensional portrayals. She added “People who termed it as ‘a feminist type of a book’ before they even read it, put me in a category called ‘feminist artsy types’. The zine met with all kinds of responses, I think the biggest challenge was to put my opinions and views across without sounding preachy or downright dismissive of the stories/portrayals.”

Hardikar shares a picture from her recent works

Hardikar shares a picture from her recent works

However, determined and engrossed in her work ahead, Hardikar shared, that apart from taking up the Inktober challenge (one ink drawing a day, she has several projects lined up. “The past few months I have been working with an animation/digital media studio called Supari Studios. I usually always take on 2-3 freelance projects on the side so I have one project with a children’s picture book, a comic strip, and one exciting project I recently did was 3 masthead illustrations for the Times of India, last month.”

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