It was close to 5 pm on a hot summer evening in La La Land. The sun was on its way down after having worked tirelessly through the day, scorching everything in its wake.
Now the rugged landscape seemed to be breathing a little easy as the sun’s setting rays cast a soft orange hued glow across it.
It was here that deer, wild boar and sometimes the occasional bear came to quench their thirst, before they set out into the deeper jungles to graze.
The air today was hot and completely still.
..thought Sizzler Shikari.
For while hunting there is always a possibility of your scent being carried across the jungle. Any good hunter would tell you that this could spoil your hunt.
And Shikari was too much of an expert to expose his position to the wild.
For this, he had his own 3S mantra which he followed when hunting!
He had to stay invisible, silent and still.
The hair bristled on the nape of his neck. Sizzler Shikari lowered his head and without any perceptible show of movement, slowly turned his head right to look behind.
What he saw made him catch his breath!
Both man and animal froze, stunned by their unexpected meeting. With his senses in overdrive mode, Shikari realized he could still fire a shot at the prey even with his back to it.
In his mind he had already made a rough calculation of the distance between them. It would be no more than a 22 yard cricket pitch.
At that range he could get a shot!
Continuing to sit in his position, Shikari slowly turned the rifle towards his prey. From the corner of his eye he could register the spot between the stag’s neck and upper torso which he would target.
The shot rang through the still air shattering the silence of the jungle.
To be continued..
Just as the famed duo of comic book artist -Albert Udorzo and editor/writer- René Goscinny bought us the awesome Asterix and Obelix comics, this is a humble attempt from Yours Truly and Kishor Mistry to bring you a fun, wholesome entertainer named La La Land.
All illustrations have been done by Kishor. He is a budding artist from NIFT, Bhubaneswar. He is based in his hometown in West Bengal and creates wonderful art under his Instagram account kishormistry_
Look forward to your comments below on Shikari's hunting expedition!
It’s been a while since I first posted the Background and Introductory chapter of La La Land (1st August 2020 to be precise.)
The delay has primarily been in searching for an able digital artist who could do comic illustrations as well. This is because since beginning, I have visualized La La Land to be a blend of text and images which will help create a strong visual impact on the reader’s mind.
I am happy to mention that I finally found a match in young talented artist and an exponent of the digital medium – Mr. Kishor Mistry.
Kishor is excellent at drawing figures, bringing out the true essence of people in their day to day surroundings. You will soon find this out yourself from the below images which have all been inspired from real life people.
So, in a sense he has drawn hyper realistic portraits 🙂
(You can follow his Instagram page kishormistry_ to enjoy some wonderful art!)
So, I come to you today with a brief introduction of 5 characters in this wonderful, mythical land located in Odisha.
This is the first set of characters and I will introduce more to you as we go along.
Happy reading and hope you like them!
Character 1 – Khiladi Kaka
I am the Sarpanch of La La Land,
Gentle and wise; my decisions given by fair hand.
Resolving villagers' issues is my topmost priority,
Khiladi Kaka is my name and I am sharp and witty!
He is the head of the 5 wise men who form the village panchayat. He is fun loving, friendly and always with a twinkle in his eye. In his younger days he struggled from scratch to set up his business of selling water pipes and made it a success. His son now runs the show.
Khiladi however has one problem – he keeps forgetting things and mixes up people’s names leading to hilarious situations. This is accentuated especially when he pronounces the panchayat’s verdict on any case!
Character 2 – Sizzler Shikari
Quick in my thoughts, even quicker in action,
A master of geography, I can beat GPS to the nearest fraction!
Disciplined by Time, Nature my soul's chingari*,
My best friend isthe rifle; and I am Sizzler Shikari!
*chingari – a spark
He is Khiladi’s younger brother and one among 4 siblings. Shikari is a retired cop and and a self-confessed nature lover. He is aggressive, can get angry very quickly (and cools down equally fast!) and a stickler for time.
Yet outside his tough exterior he carries a heart which softens at the slightest hint of love and affection received, especially from children.
He came to be known by this moniker when he hunted down a man-eating tiger single-handedly (by keeping himself as a bait) on a full moon night!
Character 3 – Sadabahar Shami
My hair jet black, my teeth pearly white,
I may be a senior citizen, but still youthful alright!
Adaptable and easy going; I am born under the Gemini star,
Always evergreen and smiling, I am Sadabahar!
She is the only sister amongst the 4 siblings and the youngest too! As such she has been indulged and spoilt for love by her 3 brothers and parents.
Sadabahar derives her name from the flower Periwinkle which is an evergreen blossom! Like the flowering plant, Sadabahar too looks ageless.
More importantly, just like the Periwinkle plant has a host of medicinal properties and can cure multiple illnesses with its’ rich ayurvedic legacy, Sadabahar Shami too with her love, affection and a young heart can melt all your problems away in matter of minutes!
Character 4 – Jumping Janab
With full enthusiasm I jump into each case,
Putting criminals behind bars, brings a smile to my face!Honest to my job, I wear the police uniform with pride,
Jumping Janab is my name and call of duty my bride!!
The current Thanedar** of the village police station and Shikari’s son-in-law.
He is an enthusiastic cop and cannot stay away from action! He is honest, hard working and is accompanied on most adventures with his trusted subordinate – Halla Havaldar.
Janab is intensely respected by the villagers for his ever helping nature and for keeping the doors of the police station open for them to walk-in with their problems anytime.
** thanedar – Inspector In Charge of a police station.
Character 5 – Sundari Soapia
Born with a talent to act and emote
Give me any dialogue and I will have it by rote!
To be the voice of the village women - is my aim,
Beautiful to look at, Sundari Soapia is my name!
Daughter of a late tribal folk singer, Sundari has made her name in drama and the stage. Like her father she is immensely talented and is a star participant in all the village plays and jatra.
But other than acting, she nurses one secret ambition – to be elected leader of the women folk with the greater aim of making their voices heard in all matters concerning the tribe.
“Once upon a time there lived…”well this story is of present times and not so long ago- however since interesting stories begin like this, I thought of starting mine too with the famous opening line!
Before I start telling you the story, it would be prudent to let me briefly describe what the term La La Land means.
Collins Dictionary describes the term to mean an imaginary place, a place that is remote from reality.
The Urban Dictionary defines it, “A mental state of being high or actually being high where one envisions happy images” while Oxford says it is “A fanciful state or dreamworld.”
What we do know is the term La La Land started being used in the late 1970’s and early 80’s as a nickname for Los Angeles, California, specifically to refer to Hollywood. It puns on the city’s common abbreviation as LA and comments on the cinematic illusions made by its film industry— mostly dreamlike sequences detached from the harsher realities of life.
However I personally heard it the first time when I saw the 2016 Hollywood blockbuster musical La La Land. Oh! the romance and those dance sequences between the lead characters – Sebastian and Mia portrayed by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone respectively, set my pulse soaring!
Since then the images have struck a chord in my heart and when this story idea developed in my head, I thought the term as its title was very apt for it 🙂
So, this story is based in a fantasy land named ଲା ଲା (La La) Land located in a remote corner of Odisha. In it dwelled a few indigenous tribes. Our story focuses on a small tribe of about 50 families who resided here too. They were named the Nature Lovers of Odisha or in short The NLOO tribe.
Our state of Odisha is home to approx 60 tribes spread across various districts. Unlike in towns and cities, where rapid advances in modern living has caused irreversible changes in some of our traditions, many of the tribal population have somehow managed to keep their ethos and entire culture intact.
They still worship nature (hills and streams), follow peculiar customs in various aspects of life ranging from agriculture to marriage and have an infinite passion for music and dance.
Some of the tribes still believe in sorcery and for some using bows and arrows to kill and defend, is still the preferred mode of weaponry.
Some of them have existed since centuries in Odisha and even find their names mentioned in The Mahabharata and Ramayana!
So dear readers with this rich backdrop forming the crux of the story of La La Land let me give you a snippet of things to come!
A narrow mud path wound its way upwards towards the house. Clumps of shrubs bordered it on both sides. Even when it rained the roots of these shrubs would never let go of the soil, holding them together as much as possible against the water inundating the hills.
The dark hued saffron colour of the soil mixed freely with the green foliage. In nature, both the colours seemed to co-exist in harmony.
The path itself had forked to the right from the main road which curved and continued further into La La Land. This area was on a hillock and if you had a chance to visit it, you would definitely take a moment to pause here and admire the beauty of the place.
(Art by Reshmi. My dear cousin and creator of wonderful oil paintings)
From this vantage position you could see the young folds of the Elephant Mountain in the distance. At one point it seemed to touch the sky and then at another it seemed to stoop to kiss the cool waters of the river Behta Pani – the main source of water for the various tribes of this Land.
A slight mist hovered above these waters; as if an old lady was trying to pull a shawl around herself to protect her body from the winter chill.
Somewhere up in the trees, myriad birds warbled and formed a soothing lyrical background. At this morning hour the sun had yet to reach the top of the trees and thus part of the scenery was still in the shade. If you drew in a lungful of the crisp chilly hilly air it would make you feel alive!
However this morning was different than the rest. Troops of villagers were busy making their way up this path. They were in small groups and their excited chatter filled the air.
A very unusual event had happened the evening before warranting the panchayat to call for an assembly. Hence things more important than admiring nature were on their minds today!
A sole Palash tree stood on the right of this path, with its roots exposed and it seemed to be greeting the villagers like a doorman in front of a landmark house.
This was apt, for you see the path sloped slightly upwards and ended at the door of the most important person of La La Land – it’s Sarpanch.
To be continued…
(This is completely a work of fiction. It will be told through several chapters. Hence it occupies its’ own pride of place in my blog’s menu bar :))