A book of illustrations by Upal Sengupta was launched at the Italian pavilion by the consul general of Italy in Kolkata, Gianluca Rubagotti at International Kolkata Book Fair on Sunday.
The book follows the adventures of little girl Puchki and her constant companion Cookie, the dog, in Italy. In this third book of the series, Cookie travels to Naples. Upal, who is better known as a singer from the popular Bengali band Chandrabindoo, also is an able hand at illustrations. And the association with the consulate started when he first met with the consul general of Italy in Kolkata in 2000.
Talking about Cookies adventures in Naples Upal said: “I had to depict the monuments, the culture of ‘suspended coffee’ in Naples and also talk about Toto, the famous comedian from that part of Italy, which all form part of my story this time.”
Suspended coffee is a system, where after having coffee at a shop one pays for the coffee of the person visiting after. And the singer-illustrator had to sift through many photos to get the particular angle he was looking for. “I’m looking for the right composition… Also I had to study the pictures of the monuments minutely to get the right depiction and then simplify the castles for the readers,” he added.
And he has woven in a lot of Italian words, which are close to English and can be easily understood by the readers. This, he said, is an effort to popularise the language here. Upal, who is also an origami expert, said he is more excited about his work and is still exploring his drawing.
Talking of the origin of Puchki and Cookie, Upal said, “The characters came into being out of our love for dogs. I had drawn a little girl with a dog long before this character was born and I had a dog named Cookie. All this came in handy when I started the adventure story.”
But it was a challenge for him to restrict the sketches in 12 frames since he also had to draw them for a calendar, which required deft editing.
For Upal, he drew inspiration from Tintin, the comic series. Consul general Gianluca Rubagotti said: “This is something we chose to promote knowledge of Italy in Kolkata. This is the third year and with each year the demand for our calendars is increasing. Every year, we try to guide the reader to the discovery of a city of Italy with the aspects which represent the city, be it literature, nature, food or the monuments.”