Bal Narendra is a deeply dull comic book that I cannot imagine any child voluntarily reading

28 April 2014
Courtesy Rannade Prakashan
Courtesy Rannade Prakashan

Writing any sort of review of Bal Narendra: Childhood Stories of Narendra Modi is an act that seems unfair on many levels.

This comic book account of Modi’s childhood heroics was not written by Modi himself (it is to be hoped), and so any judgement about the man based on it would be wrong. It is a book for very young children, which means that any serious analysis would lead to conclusions being drawn that say more about the reviewer than the book. It does not claim to be completely true, or to be anything other than a hymn to Modi by Modi devotees and an attempt to inspire young people to be like him. Perhaps most importantly, it does not name its creators, so perhaps it is not even meant to be a book, more like a How To Be Like Young Modi leaflet. If not for the national obsession with the man and the need to feed trolls on the internet, it would probably have been completely ignored by any serious publication.

All that said, Bal Narendra is a deeply dull comic book that I cannot imagine any child voluntarily reading. Perhaps I know the wrong children, but this is the twenty-first century, and anything so slow, preachy and conflict-free is likely to tire out a child after the first few pages. I vaguely remember a birthday in the early 1980s when some well-intentioned relative had given me a similar book extolling the virtues of Young Indira Gandhi. YIG seemed nice and all that, but I really hated being told how good other children were, and the book was sadly lacking in treasure, monsters and fight scenes (though I suppose I could probably find them hidden inside the pages now if I were to re-read that book as an adult). It just didn’t work for me. And this was several decades before our current attention-deficit-disorder times.

Samit Basu writes books, comics and films and lives on the web at @samitbasu.

Keywords: The Caravan Collection #07 Narendra Modi