At first glance, one isn’t quite sure if this is a graphic novel, a comic book or a bit of both. The storyboard within too reflects varied styles that are a mix of photography, illustrations, paintbrush and other stylised treatments to real-time images. The end result is a potpourri of visuals that take away from the content. The over-the-top dramatic visualisation (at times) adds to the distracted reading especially when we realise that none other than Pandit Ravi Shankar has written the narrative.
Such experimentation by Neelabh, whether for effect or to drive the story forward could have been toned down. The content by itself is honest and arresting. This, in our view, is the soul and should have been allowed to take centrestage. Of particular interest are his early years that provide terrific insight into his emergence as a sitar legend. His insecurities, strife, turbulent relationship with his beloved guru Ustad Allauddin Khan, his trips to Maihar, Kolkata (then Calcutta), Mumbai (then Bombay) and his brush with the film world make for engaging sections in this book.
Info geeks, edgy art and design lovers and younger readers will lap up this autobiography while purists might cry foul that radical art has taken precedence over fact. Each page has a different style, and the unpredictability at times, as we found out, can be off-putting. Purely for its novelty and the content, we’d still suggest you give it a dekko.