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Monday, 21 March 2016

Munnu

Title: Munnu
Author: Malik Sajad
Publisher: Harper Collins
A compelling graphic novel, Munnu is a glimpse at the history of Indian-administered Kashmir, specifically pivoting around Srinagar. The book comprises the author’s own story – told in the form of his protagonist, which is modeled after himself. From the first frame to the last, the graphic novel has you hooked. Munnu and his story are compelling. The likening the Kashmiri to the Hangul, or the Kashmiri stag is a slap in the face – what with the species slowly becoming endangered.
Talking about life as he knew it, growing up in the little spaces that militarisation and resistance offered to being a human. Art and drawing comics remains the source of pleasure for the young lad, who grows into living a life in an occupation-ridden Kashmir – one that he knows is not going to change. He sketches the photos of the unrecognised and disfigured faces he sees in the newspapers – and it remains a sordid reminder of the truth that gets repackaged for distant public consumption in the form of statistics. 
Munnu mentions Joe Sacco – and yet, it is on par, if not better, than Sacco’s works. Becoming the first official graphic novel to chronicle an Indian conflict, and the Kashmiri conflict no less, Munnu brings a catena of historical events alive in his narrative, and the images with their powerful strokes – even if only in black and white, find a way to remain locked inside your eyelids long after you close the book.
It explores the little world that Munnu has created for himself – one that he uses to communicate with the world outside. In effortless authenticity, Munnu portrays the global apathy that the issue has often been met with, much less the arrogance, privilege and sense of entitlement characteristic of some that profess a sense of intellectual styling in their approach towards the Kashmir issue.  The end leaves you smarting, as it examines the uncontained continuation of a brazen sense of injustice. And no one questions, no one asks.
Munnu is easily a peace read – not only for the truths it brings to fore, but also because of the beautiful use of art to communicate, to re-present a truth that has seldom been given importance in print in the way  that it should be told.