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Grafity's Wall h/c

Grafity's Wall h/c back

Ram V & Anand Radhakrishnan


Page 45 Review by Publisher Blurb

"Don't dream so much, it's painful to watch."Well, this is a little bit beautiful on every level; but it's brutal too, as the thwarting of aspirations does tend to be.Dreams can be thwarted by circumstance, happenstance or intention by individuals, and these specific streets of Mumbai - although teeming with life, energy and colour - are far from conducive to seeing them come to fruition.They're impoverished and crowded with elements of corruption, but the local police inspector is not the worst worry. That would be Mario, the local drugs baron, who is flash, charming when he wants to be, seemingly paternalistic but vicious and way too well informed for you to want to cross him. The shanty town designated a slum is under threat of being pulled down without any regard to those who will need re-housing (so won't be), and there is the pressure on the young from older generations to jettison lofty, artistic ambitions which they consider pie in the sky in favour of buckling down to work for a relative pittance.Gradually, in a narrative relay race during which a new baton is passed while the old one's retained and continues to be run with in parallel, we are introduced to four young individuals, Suresh, Jayesh (who prefers "Jay"), Chasma and one other whom I won't reveal, for I want their inclusion as the fourth perspective when they rise from the background to remain a surprise.Each harbours artistic aspirations in different fields - art, music, literature and [redacted] - but only one of them (Chasma) attends college, while working long hours at night at an Indian version of a Chinese restaurant where he's forced to wear a bandana featuring The Rising Sun. Oh ridiculous, I know, but there are plenty of Chinese Takeaways in Britain (in Nottingham indeed) called The Rising Sun!Suresh draws constantly in softcover sketchbooks he carries round with him, then slips into areas more closely patrolled by the police to spray walls with the most elaborate, intricate and gorgeous graffiti they're ever likely to see. Albeit a bit bruised, he's rescued from arrest by Jay, using Mario's drug money to bribe the inspector, who asks why Suresh does it when "half the chawl would love to have you paint something on their walls"."I guess I just like the idea of being somewhere I'm not meant to be. Like sneaking into someone else's world and leaving a mark."Back home, his mother's cooking dinner, greets him tenderly but adds ominously..."And Suresh? Your father's home."It starts of quite well, his father stuffing his smoke in his mouth to inspect his son's sketchbook."Mm-hmm. >snf< These are pretty good. You're getting better, eh?"He tries to pour himself another drink, but the bottle is empty so he tosses it out of the window, into the garbage-bobbing waters below."You know something, son?"Nothing is made here, in this place, not anymore. Everything is manufactured. Everything is bought and sold, you understand?"It's then that he utters the opening quotation, squeezing both Suresh's cheeks together with a single powerful hand. It's then that he does something awful.Suresh's face is a malleable joy. On the third page in, artist Radhakrishnan lends him all the power of deep concentration and creative consideration as he eyes what's on the wall already and contemplates what best to add and how. His deep, dark eyes are smoothly, deliciously hooded as hair falls over and on either side, while his top teeth pull his lower lip up and into his mouth. He's a handsome young lad, and I love his multiple-holster belt, criss-crossed round his waist full of different coloured spray cans.Jay, meanwhile, bursts blithely into the inspector's office with greasy hair curling from under his backwards-on baseball cap, three pale plasters comically covering bits of his swarthy, unshaven face. They won't seem so funny soon.As to those streets, they're exquisitely realised with an astonishing sense of thr