13. Exploring Media Options

After brainstorming for possible media options, I narrowed done to doing a visual news story that would be published in a newspaper or a magazine. The list of newspapers and magazines was exhaustive, but I wanted one with a specific focus on Mumbai. Doing a story for a national would impose on me to show a broader picture, maybe a story on major rivers of India, not just from Mumbai, and that would become more general and lose focus. While most national dailies had a seperate Mumbai edition, I could not shortlist on any magazine that covered Mumbai specifically or would be willing to do a 3-4 page cover story on Mithi alone. For the newspaper, I thought Mumbai Mirror was a more appropriate option than others after having a discussion with Shobha, a friend who is a journalist and Mr Samir More, from the NID CMR team. I have to still figure out what would be ideal time of the week to publish the story- a weekday or a weekend…what would ensure more readability. Simultaneously, I started working on the text for the article that I could later illustrate. While this project is hypothetical, I till had nagging doubts about my media, it it were to be real, would I really get space in a paper, how much size will I be granted etc. This space issue also led to a heated discussion during my jury. But later, talking to Tarun, one of our GD faculty, gave me some clarity on the issue.

Meanwhile, I discovered that Mint had a section devoted exactly for such stories, and that too visual stories. Every wednesday, the second last page of the paper was for visual stories presented by Manta ray. They called it the Small Picture…big issues in small panels. It was perfect. it officially gave me an entire page, even if hypothetically, to rant about Mithi. And a few days back, they posted on Facebook that they are invited guest pitches for a special edition of the Small picture. If your topic got selected, you could work out it. And there was a deadline! enough motivation to stop talking and start working. So I did a quick rough thumbnail comic to pitch my subject and send it to them. Here’s the rough draft that I mailed along with the concept note:

The comic illustrates the state of the River Mithi in Mumbai. Besides the 
known fact that it is very polluted, encroachment has been a major reason for its deterioration. I wish to highlight two things: one, the development projects that has been sabotaging the river and two, the ignorance and indifference of an average Mumbaikar.

I also shared it with my guide and a few friends. So far, this is the feedback I have received.

My guide, Ms Tridha Gajjar: While working on the composition of the frames, Visual flow, i.e. proper navigation through the comic is very important. presently, the placement of the text is too unorganized. Also, the black bands for the text are too strong and distracting to the eye. The composition on the whole should be balanced. Even while working in grey scale, visual variety and contrast could be achieved by use of textures, variation in line thickness, zooming and zooming out of some frames etc

Gargee Thakkur:  The city planners need to be more serious looking. Mumbaikars will be able to relate to the conversations in the comic more if you used bilingual phrases (hinglish). Working on issues like this is never foolproof. Issues like this may not lead to direct action, cynics may continue to remain cynic, but more u glorify the issue,  more people get talking about it, and it may lead to something.

Anushree Bhatt:  The sarcasm in the text could be more subtle than direct. Like, spoof empathy. you could show the city planners in bad light by actually making them sound grand and pompous and very concerned. galm them up. I could quote some of them directly, the way they sell ideas to the common man. include newspaper cuttings, tourism ads etc.at  use of colloqiual terms will bring more flavour. Restating something in another context is a technique I could work on.

Abhisek Behera: The first frame should be much more bigger than its current size. It could be more scenic. When the audience see how the river was earlier, the contrast with its present state would be much more stronger. The text needs more rework. presently the narrative  is too linear and boring.

 Sai Malage:  The composition could be much more organic and fluid since we are talking about a river. Presently the frames are a little rigid. What if there is a way that the composition as a whole depicts the degradation of the river, when someone first looks at with, before proceeding to read the text.

Aarti Lad:  The frame with the city planners look more like a family at the dinner table. The character of the authorities is not coming across…the younger guy looks like a kid and the visuals by themselves do not establish the location. its only when u read that u realize its Mumbai.

Rahul Laishram: There are issues with navigation that needs to be worked upon. non parallel lines tend to lead the eye out of the frame. the frames are little congested. the gutter space is not enough.The first frame should be glorifying, could be panaromic. or the panaromic frame could be slit. the language could be more subtle.  The line- lets rob the rver of its floodplains is too direct. the scenes in most frames right now are mundane and boring…the actions could be more alive- exaggerated and animated. Maybe the gutter space or the background behind the frames could be the actual flood scene. The frames with similar scenes such as the one with city planners could be clubbed together, similar in size…and some frames could get more emphasis such as the map of altered course of river, the activists questioning.

Sabika Muzaffar:  The people you are talking to are urban cynics. they are bombarded with info on social causes and talking about rivers is a topic done to death. why will this comic attract their attention? why will they give a damn about the river anyway? The comic is too linear and detached, subversive approaches need to be considered. emphasis on why the people are a stakeholder…how does it affect them….why should they bother. the comic does cover important points from the research…but the point of view or perspective could be more personalized then like an overview.

Raghavendra Kamath: some of the text is flowing out of the bubble…need to be placed properly. too much text…needs to be reduced. eye flow navigation needs to be worked on. also there is lot of leading in text. reduce that. the caption and dailogue box are two different entities. they should have same person or subject speaking at the same time. like if you are telling the main story through caption the dailogue box should be supporting it should intervene…jaise amitabh bacchan ka voiceover and dialogue of particular scene are different. particularly fourth row first and second panel you have written about schoool kids in first pannel and then scene shifts and activists are shown the speech looks like it is continuation of the black caption box in previous panel.

Priyankar Gupta:  The visuals are good..but i guess it is TOO text heavy.. will you do justice to the context with a comic strip to begin with? Just think about it. Secondly the approach is direct. Can you make it metaphorical ?



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