Meet Annushka Hardikar, The Nari Behind ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’
- IWB Post
- September 13, 2017
“I remember, as a child, I used to wake up and describe my dreams to my mother, and not in words alone, I would draw them on paper. She still has them treasured in a portfolio.”
All of 22, Annushka Hardikar is an Illustrator and Visual Communication Artist, who finds her roots in Pune, and acknowledges her design school for broadening the horizon and helping her spread her wings.
Recently graduated from Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology, Bengaluru, Annushka speaks, eats, and breathes art. “The time I spend drawing and illustrating is the best time for me. I want to work hard and keep developing as an artist. Though yes, the workaholic me does annoy my family at times.” (She Laughs)
Annushka currently works in Mumbai, and when IWB ringed her she was on her way back from The Pune International Literary Festival (PILF), where her recent project ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari‘ was featured, and goes without saying, the zine was very well received.
To find out more about this young artist, and the said growing intriguing project of hers, read on…
Tell us about your experiments with art as a child?
My connection with art surfaced when I was around 4 years old, and while that time it was mostly in the form of colouring and craft activities, it grew to attain different shapes. The inspiration of which came from my mother and sister, who are artists themselves. More than I, it was my sister who was inclined towards arts, and I always looked up to her. I remember going to the same art class as her, and it was there that my strokes began to develop and evolve. I owe it to my teacher there, too. For her belief in allowing students to take their own way, in hindsight, majorly strengthened my base as an artist.
Another memory that I fondly remember is of drawing birthday cards for friends and family, inscribing ‘Annu Arts‘ on the back, which with time became an inseparable ritual – I still enjoy making birthday cards! Oh and, I loved reading Enid Blyton, and Dr. Seuss’ books. Their picture stories are what I’ll always carry in my memory.
That sounds interesting! So how did the journey from ‘Annu Arts’ to ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’ unfurl?
Well, as a child, I was interested in arts, but alongside I showed inclination towards many other activities, too. I took piano classes, tennis coaching, and various others, and until high-school I wanted to become a pilot. Travelling is my other love, and as a naïve teenager, I long dwelled on the idea of becoming a pilot, thinking it’ll help me cater to my dreams of visiting far off places (She laughs). But to cut short the story, the love for art won over all other, and when it was time to narrow down options for graduation courses, I compiled together my work and applied to design colleges, and eventually landed at Srishti Design School, which is where my journey took a new turn.
Wow! How and when did you conceive the idea of the ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’ zine?
It was during the final semester at the grad school, when groups of students from different courses were brought together to work on an umbrella thesis project. The topic I was to explore was “Unburdening Mythology”, and it was largely about I looking at Indian Mythology from a perspective that was never touched upon. For various reasons I found my way to the epic tale of ‘Mahabharata’. Its stories that we have grown up listening, in my opinion, are perhaps going to be of little relevance when it’ll be time for us to narrate them to our children. Add to that, the fact that the women characters of Mahabharata, were far more capable than as they were portrayed – weak, submissive, and dependent. And ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!’ is my attempt at addressing the need of accurate representation of the women in the epic.
It took me long to coin the name, and as it happens, it just happened to pop up one random day. I also have a thing for rhyming phrases, she adds. The idea was to get people attracted to the graphics to make them open the zine, and then captivate them in the text to serve the very purpose.
Would you help us open the pages of the zine for our readers?
Sure, I’d love to! Oh Nari (as she refers to the zine), is a satirical take on stories of the three prominent women characters in the Mahabharata – Kunti, Gandhari, and Draupadi. Through the zine, I have tried to shed light on their stories in a context that is relevant to the millennial generation, by drawing parallels between their situations then, and the challenges and stereotypes that are faced by the women of our society today. What you’ll find in the zine are my own hand-drawn illustrations and self-composed texts, through which I have weaved stories that address, and at the same time, question the position and role of women.
You spoke about addressing the issues faced by Indian women then and now. Have you ever been stereotyped for this “women-oriented” project of yours, any experience that you’d like to share?
Ah, I did. And to say the least, I wasn’t surprised. There were people who came up to me saying “Oh, so is this some women bashing men and society project?”, and many similar interpretations. While in my head I thanked them for judging the zine before even reading it, but I decided to give things a little time, and was happy to see that people who actually read the zine, did understand the context and found relevance to my content. Interestingly, a certain distributor at PILF after having mocked the zine and me initially was later found encouraging people to give it a read. So, it is your work that reflects your capability, and only that can change the perception. As for those who have chosen to live with their minds shut, for them, women-oriented projects will always and only be about women hating men or discussing their vagina, etc. Which speaks a lot about their own perspective; I feel sorry for them.
Aptly put. Getting to the other aspects of your work, do you do freelance projects as well?
Yes, I do. In fact, I have been taking up projects since the second year of college, and that is something that has helped me a lot as a professional. Doing college work along with my freelance projects, honed my time management skills to a great extent, and now when I have stepped into the professional world, the work pressure doesn’t get to me as easily.
You self-published your zine and are taking care of it at multiple platforms also by yourself. What has been your greatest aid in expanding your audience base?
Well, I have always had my family’s support and have some great friends as an extended support system. But when it comes to reaching out to a larger audience, it is social media that I’d like to thank to, and Instagram, in particular. I tend to overthink things, and there was a time when I used to hesitate to showcase my work publicly. For a long time, I lived under the impression that sharing my art would perhaps come across as me seeking attention. But then with my friends constantly attempting at pushing this idea out of my head, and the acknowledgment that I began to receive from people whom I didn’t know personally, made me not turn back. And I can’t stress enough on the fact that it has not only helped me create an audience but pushed the happiness quotient of the artist in me, too. The messages saying “We love your art / we find it relatable / keep drawing and posting” make my day!
We’re certain about that, your Instagram indeed is beautiful. We took a sneak peek and found a lot more to dig into, beginning with your undying love for dogs! Tell us about it, and this recent post, too?
“Ohhh I just love dogs!!” They’re the cutest creatures, and you might laugh, but I have ‘cousin dogs’ everywhere now. Since childhood, I have felt an immense love for them, and so whoever around me has a dog, I give them names as my cousins. My own dog, which is a 16-year old grandfather of a dog, is at my home in Pune, and when I am visiting, I cannot not spend time with him. This one is here one of my friend’s dog, and yes, a cousin of mine (She grins).
361 Likes, 8 Comments – @annushkahardikar on Instagram: “Dogs > Anything ??❤️ #sisterfromanothermister #cleolove #twinning”
And your ‘On-the-spot Drawing’ posts just amazed us, so many of which we came across. How did you start this practice, we’re curious to know?
Thank you so much for the appreciation. This habit of mine dates back to the third semester of college when I’d gone to France on an exchange program.Where at first I used to be very shy about sharing my illustrations, thinking ‘what will people think of me’, it was while I was there that my doubts gradually washed away. I cut me some slack and saw people around encouraging me. I started exploring the city, and alongside my own art, in ways that I hadn’t done before. And those outings with self, were all about walking around, finding a place to sit and just drawing what I saw, which was a one-off experience. This practice has made me very quick at sketching, and I can see myself getting good at it with every passing day. Not to forget that there always exists scope to get better and learn more.
354 Likes, 1 Comments – @annushkahardikar on Instagram: “Of course I drew the beach ☺️? #365daysofnotsurewhat #day280 #illustration #moleskine”
No doubting that. So, do you have a dream job?
Yes, I do (She blushes). I dream to have my own café’-studio one day, which would (obviously) have lots of dogs. Also, I wish to be commissioned by some country to design their travel journals. I can’t tell you the excitement I feel just imagining that moment, it will be like my two loves on one flight – travelling and art.
Amen. And what would be some lesser-known facts about you?
Aah, I think I’ve talked about almost everything. But if it is the little things you’re pointing to, I also introduce myself as a kaju-katli lover. And among other things, I am very fond of citrusy smells, tin boxes, and yeah, bad breath is a big turn off for me.
We agree with you on the last bit. Lastly, who are those artists that make you feel inspired, and induce that tiny bit of positivity-driven jealousy in you?
Oh, I totally get what you’re hinting at. And I think it is a very important factor, it helps one push themselves to do better and explore their potential. I admire a lot of artists, some of the names I can recall are Alicia Souza, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan, and Sameer Kulavoor. And Sally Nixon, too, her work depicts great detailing, clarity, and preciseness, and I really enjoy her art.
Annushka is currently based out of Mumbai, working as a visual and video illustrator with Supari Studios. And alongside intends to work on exploring ways for expanding the content and reach of ‘Oh Nari, So Sanskari!”. She is open to suggestions, so grab your copy of the zine and approach her via Instagram, or visit her website, the link to which is shared below.