Monday, 30th October 2017

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Our city through his eyes

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 9.01.15

Tignous, one of the journalists killed in the terror attack on the office of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly, in Paris on Wednesday, was a guest at the Calcutta Book Fair in 2005. During his stay, Tignous drew several cartoons on the city and the fair for journals brought out by Alliance Francaise du Calcutta. Metro presents a few of them with interpretations by Debasish Deb, illustrator and designer.

Translation  The band has finished its day… longer honk honk!
Tignous decoded  Excellent observation of the band players who have had their day playing their horn, the 
honking will carry on…. The typical railings complete the atmosphere. I especially like the vacant, glum expressions.

Tignous decoded  The people pulling the cart seem to be the riders who always hire others to do this hard job. Tignous must have observed the way a car is hauled away after breaking down in Calcutta. He might have been making a mockery of a car going back in time.

Tignous decoded  Tignous captures the mood and atmosphere of a crowded Calcutta street. ‘NO HORN’ reads the signage but the cackle of people all around turns the sign into a farce on a street filled by people, leaving no space for cars. The people look distorted and comical, bordering on the bizarre. The Frenchman was clearly struck by the cacophony of Calcutta.

Translation  No. 1 “Toupee” is a head-dress that is a symbol of Indian servitude. Toque de Nehru, symbol of revolt against English. This cohabitation, is this due to chance?
Tignous decoded  These are the interiors of the iconic Coffee House on College Street. He is basically hinting at the irony of Indians and their struggle for freedom from the British symbolised by two kinds of signature headgear: the turban and the Nehru cap. The man in close-up is reminiscent of Satyajit Ray.… Perhaps he was told about the filmmaker and his regular addas there. He captures the interiors quite well with the detailing.

Translation  Mother Teresa had just two hands. Oh the poor wretch. 
Tignous decoded  Difficult to figure why he links Ganesha with Mother Teresa. Perhaps because he thinks the poor, and not the business community, benefit from Ganesha. He seemed to have enjoyed sketching the facial expression of the god. 

This cartoon is from the personal collection of Neela Majumdar, the president of Alliance Francaise du Calcutta during Tignous’s visit.

Last word: Tignous’s style was positive and his treatment bordered on the bizarre. Crude more than funny, he successfully portrays Calcutta in a non-linear style though he had little time to explore the city during his stay — Debasish Deb