19 September, 2020

A Menagerie Feels The Fire

This racy graphic tale of Partition scoops out reality and allegorises the state of the nation

A Menagerie Feels The Fire
outlookindia.com
2020-02-28T12:26:37+05:30

Before we get into the paratha and potatoes of this story, let’s be clear that this is not another Partition tale rising from the tomes—non-fiction and pulp alike—that we have swallowed, ruminated and digested. Countless depictions of those horrific days, since the Radcliffe Line was drawn and millions were uprooted from their hearths, have made most of these tales a stale topic; almost cartoonish at times. In a way, we have become desensitised to those horrors. Then again, Chhotu is a Partition story—“a parable of the past that is not removed from the present”. Part novel, part art and equal parts tender love and boundless suffering, this coming-of-age story is a commentary on something more pervasive and endemic if you scratch beneath the surface. It is a commentary on the violence and oppression that persist to this day.

On the face of it, Chhotu is about Chhotu, the orphan—a slap-happy schoolboy growing up in the lanes of Chandni Chowk, with best friend Pandey and love interest Heer, the new girl in the...

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