Charbak Dipta is a lot of things rolled into one; an illustrator, an actor, a trained musician, a writer of screenplays and a graduate with an MA in Philosophy. In conversation with him, we tried to understand this multi-disciplined artist as he takes us through his journey of expressing himself through various mediums, with the ultimate destination, his illustrations.
Charbak’s series, ‘Indian Aliens’ is a breath of fresh air and a departure from convention.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am a day dreamer who is in constant search of mediums to express his thoughts and experiences in various ways.
Talk to us about your creative process – How long does it take from ideation to your finished product?
I keep storing ideas in the faculties of my mind. Like, if I have thought of idea ‘B’, then I improvise on it and add layers to the existing idea while working on idea ‘A’, on paper that I have thought of, before. Then after a week or two I have idea ‘B’ ready and it struggles to come out on paper. Then I can’t help, but to put it out.
Do you have any recurring themes that you live by in your artwork?
No. I like to play with different themes. I find repeating themes pointless. It is boring.
“PHILOSOPHY HAS INFLUENCED EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE. I DIDN’T TAKE THE SUBJECT ONLY TO GET A JOB, BUT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT LIFE AND THE WORLD WAS ABOUT; AND THIS HAS HELPED ME TAKE DECISIONS MORE LOGICALLY. “
You have worked across various field of creative ingenuity. What are you devoting your time presently to?
I primarily freelance illustrative work from all over the world to establish my signature drawing style. Presently, I am working on a graphic novel and a few screenplays.
You hold an MA in Philosophy from Jadavpur University. How did that happen and did it leave an influence on your work?
It happened accidentally. I had a curiosity for the subject since I got my name from a hedonist school of Indian philosophy and loved it while studying. I have also studied Cinema in university as an extra departmental course.
Philosophy has influenced everything in my life. Though I was supposed to be a lecturer in a college after completing my M.A., I chose a different field. I did not take the subject only to get a job. I took it to understand what life and the world was about, and this has helped me to take decisions more logically. Infact, the seed of my artwork series INDIAN ALIENS is inspired by the theory of Plato, the Greek philosopher.
Coming to your ‘Indian Alien’ series of work. How did all start?
I was searching for ideas and an identity as an artist. And once when I was travelling on train from Delhi to my hometown Kolkata, I made my 1st artwork, called Alien Durga Puja. I stayed in Chittaranjan Park in Delhi to experience Durga puja. I visualized the Delhi based Bengalis as aliens in the North Indian dominated culture of Delhi, as if the puja was happening in a different planet. That’s how the series started. Initially I did not plan to make it into a series. But when I posted it on my blog and the positive feedbacks that I received, made me think – why not make this into a series? And then it all started.
“USUALLY IN TEXT NARRATIVES, THE TEXT STEALS THE SHOW WHILE THE ILLUSTRATIONS MERELY ACCOMPANIES IT. IN REALITY, NONE CARE ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATIONS. I WANT TO DO JUST THE OPPOSITE – GIVE THE ILLUSTRATIONS ALL THE IMPORTANCE, WHILE MAKING SURE THE TEXT DOESN’T GRAB ALL THE LIMELIGHT AND STILL RECEIVES ITS DUE ATTENTION.”
So what has the journey been like? And what plans do you have going forward.
I am happy with my journey so far. I thank my parents for that. First I started with music, then tried my hand in acting; I have acted in a few theatres and short films. Then I discovered art, through which I could express my thoughts more efficiently. Since then there has been no looking back. Especially narrative art (comics), which to me is a form of poor man’s cinema.
To make a film you need lots of money, a good team, and toiling hard to reach a level. Whereas for making a graphic story or an illustration which narrates a story, you just need a piece of paper and a pencil. And then everything is under your control.
In future, I would want to make films in the fantasy genre. Currently I am working on some original screenplays.
Also, I want to establish my illustrations as an independent art form. Usually in text narratives, the text steals the show while the illustration merely accompanies it. In reality, none care about the illustrations. I want to do just the opposite – give the illustration all the importance, while making sure the text doesn’t grab all the limelight and still receives its due attention.
You are a professional trained Singer/Musician as well. How did you get associated with music?
My mother is a Hindustani Music and Rabindra Sangeet exponent and who is also my first guru. Later, I took lessons in Hindustani vocal classical music from Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan and Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty from ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Calcutta for over 10 years. I also took lessons in guitar and western classical piano from Calcutta School of Music under the Royal School of Music Board, London.
I have performed all over India, formed my own band, and composed music for short films. I am still making music and plan to make my own album someday.
According to you, what is your greatest work so far?
Well, it is yet to come. I am never satisfied with my work and feel there is a long way to go.
Who are the top three artists alive that you draw inspiration from?
My inspirations are Herge, Satyajit Ray and Osamu Tezuka who are not alive. I also like the works of Ben Heine, Chraig Thompson and Marjane Satrapi among contemporary artists.
If you could wish for one, and only one superpower; what superpower would you choose?
I love to travel and visit new places. So, I wish to disappear and appear anywhere, anytime I want, like Dr.Manhattan from The Watchmen.
Have you ever been contacted by Aliens?
In dreams! May be they should contact Stephen Hawkins instead of me!
If you could give one piece of advice to the community, what would it be
I am no one to give advice but if I still have to, then I would say to my fellow artists to be original in their work.
Visit Charbak on Cupick to check out more of his work.