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7 mars 2010 7 07 /03 /mars /2010 05:12

Nous avons vu Hemnant à son retour de La Rochelle et de Paris. Il est revenu enchanté de son premier séjour en France. Nous lui avons posé quelques questions... Nous en profitons pour remercier tous ceux qui lui ont consacré du temps à La Rochelle et à Paris.

Hemant, you discovered first La Rochelle. What do you think of this city ?

It's a lovely city that is really pretty. a visual delight, from its three towers and the beautiful boats in the marina to its little shops and cafes and the small streets and the markets all made an impression on me. a great city that has all the good qualities of a good town- by that I mean , most things are within walking distance, people are friendlier, there is a intimacy to the place that is missing in a big city. the city is indeed beautiful, but more beautiful for me were the people who went out of their way to invite me, take me around and be helpful in whatever way they could.  i really enjoyed myself in La Rochelle. it was a memorable stay that will be with me for a lifetime.


Let's speak about the exhibition with Wolinski. How was it ? Is it true that the organizers of the exhibition didn't know in advance the drawings that you showed ? Did you draw in the days before the exhibition ?

No doubt it was an honour to be exhibited along with one of France's legendary cartoonist. He is a house hold name in France and a path breaker in the world of cartoons. 

To begin with, there was some degree of apprehension about the whole exhibition - you may understand this when I tell you that the exhibition was to be created while I was in France.

It would be difficult for any creative artist to forsee that what he does in the next two weeks would be of a quality good enough to be exhibited. There is always an uncertainty about the whole creative process- you may have a good day and you may have a bad day- some days you don’t feel like drawing- that all has to be kept in mind. also the fact that I was drawing for a french audience, and I had never visited France before. that said, I brushed all these hesitances aside when i landed in La Rochelle- take each day as it comes and it will be ok I told myself. Be yourself and observe things- I reminded myself- afterall people are not too different, deep down we are very similar- and humour is about tapping the essentially human traits.

So with that attitude I forged ahead.

Yes the organizers did not know about what I would draw in advance. Isn’t that very courageous of them? Also, which society/country/ civilization would invite a humourist/cartoonist to their own place asking him to extract humour from their own life? The answer is: a very confident and self-assured one. Can you imagine this happening in USA? or Iran? It’s a mark of an evolved civilization I would like to think. And also a fair society- as Wolinski was in India drawing on Mumbai, I got a chance to 'even the score' by drawing on La Rochelle.

I drew in two-three weeks all the contents that made up the exhibition. it was a challenge but I don’t think I let it overwhelm me. I was the same Morparia drawing the same cartoon daily on the same human race, except in a different geographic location.



What were the reactions of the French people to your drawings ?

Generally very positive and good-of course they may be just being kind to me when they said that. I think that there is a universal quality to humour that does not excessively depend on language, much like music.

I could not have any 'language-based' cartoons, so I tried using visuals and imagery for humour. I think it worked- though to get the absolutely correct answer you have to ask the 'French people' themselves.

How your inspiration is coming ? Is it only by observing people ? Or do you connect things and ideas ? How come France and French inspired you ?

hemant morpariaInspiration comes from many sources- keep all your windows and doors open and wait patiently. The creative mind works in many ways and I can’t think of any thing that would not inspire me. observing, hearing, over-hearing, walking, noticing, shutting  your eyes and keeping them open, being with people being away from people, meeting someone, being in a crowd, at an art exhibition or a music concert- all human experiences are raw material for inspiration. The brain absorbs information that it quietly processes in a subconscious way. Half-baked thought then pop up into consicousness. my job is to nurture these half-baked thoughts into something concrete, by executing them through the craft of writing and drawing a cartoon, so that the person who sees it responds to it and connects with this 'new thought' there is first an internal connection of disparate ideas and then there is an external connection between my idea and the reader's mind. 

The French people are a people of the mind - they love culture and art, music and performance, literature and philosophy. They are not a 'black or white' dichotomous thinking people- I think they appreciate subtlities of ideas and views. the view of life is nuanced and very fine. there is a sophistication to the way they approach life. Also the value for human beings and his rights rank very very high in their order of things. They inspire me not just creatively, but also as to what is a possible way to live. 


We know that you spent one day at the BD Festival of Angoulème ? How was it ?

Madness! Sheer madness! I have never seen so many comic books or fans in my whole life. After a while my head began to spin. I must add that 98% of all books there were in french,  a language I don’t understand. So that added to my diziness. But i whole heartedly admired the skills and the evolution of the BD form - it has reached a new high point and Angoulême is the Mount Everest of that process.


You met several french politicians including Ségolène Royal. Did they pay attention to your drawings ? What was you first impression of Ségolène Royal ?

A classy lady, very well dressed and turned out. Perhaps vain and proud too. She had come for an interview to Sud-Ouest and I was asked to join in the room where it was being held. I was introduced to her and while sitting opposite, I did sketch her, but without her knowing. I was not too sure how it would be taken. So I kept quiet. I don’t think she saw my cartoons while she was there. 


And what about the french food ?

Well, it grew on me after a while- particularly sea food for which La Rochelle is well known. but I did miss the masala and spice of my native country. The initial impression was it was bland and too heavily dependent on bread and cheese. But I enjoyed cooking food for me- one of the things I learnt on this trip- cooking! food is largely a matter of habit and custom- so it took some time to appreciate it. But the pastries and the wine were indeed very lovely from day one. 


After La Rochelle you spent 6 days in Paris. And this was your first stay in Paris. What have you seen and what have you liked ?

It’s a living breathing museum- a fantastic city that offers you something on every street and turn. It throbs with life and art and bustles with energy and passion. I loved it. But missed the intimacy of La Rochelle. All cities are like that- impersonal and alienating- Paris can be too. 


Apparently you met several of our relatives ? Any message for them ?

I cannot thank you enough for your contacts- they made me not miss home at all. my deep appreciation and gratitude to all of them. They went out of their way  to make me feel at home and take me around. I can only hope that I get a chance to reciprocate their kindness in India. They were all uniformly warm and welcoming and opened their homes and kitchens to me!

My thanks once again to them. 

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