Delhi Through A Different Lens

Adrija Ghosh is a literature graduate from Calcutta who is passionate about illustration. She has been freelancing on illustration and design projects related to book covers, children’s books and graphic narratives. She loves to travel and work with children when she is not illustrating.

Here, she talks to us about her work on the book Letters to Ammi.


1. Letters to Ammi isn’t like most other picture books, it has a combination of photographs and illustrations. Did you face any particular challenges while working on this book?

I am not a professional photographer, but I enjoy dabbling with photography from time to time, and this particular book gave me the space to experiment. I was also dealing with photographic compositions for the first time in a children’s book. Mingling photography, text, and illustrations was the main challenge. Travelling alone in Delhi was not, surprisingly.

2. This book is part of the City Series and is a journey through many of Delhi’s historical monuments and locations. Were you already familiar with the city of Delhi before you travelled there for this project?

My maternal grandmother and uncle live in Delhi, so I keep travelling to the city every year. I knew most of the popular monuments like Qutub Minar, but the rest of the places I had only heard of and seen from a distance. Entering Jama Masjid, and finding Ghalib Ki Haveli and Rajon ki Baoli were adventures in themselves! Also, getting a taste of the chole bhature at Bengali Sweet House was the icing on the metaphorical cake!

3. You took most of the photographs in Letters to Ammi. Do you have a background in photography? And how many days did it take in Delhi for you to take all the pictures you needed to?

I think I could call myself a photography enthusiast, but this book definitely brought me closer to the medium. I spent around three days travelling across Delhi to the various spots the book mentions. Even though it was quite a short period, the amount of exposure to the cityscape was gigantic!

4. Could you give us an example of a time where you built on the story and added your own elements that aren’t mentioned in text?

Even though the text doesn’t mention it, the idea for the book became a revisit into an old scrapbook of a now grown-up girl that belonged to her younger self. Just like the old city of Delhi which has layers of memories waiting to be peeled, the design of the book was inspired by the same city where you could get a sense of timelessness but also a sense of the fact that so much time has gone by as well.

5. What medium do you prefer working with while illustrating?

I mostly work in a digital medium but my inspiration is derived from ink drawings and watercolour illustrations.

6. And finally, do you have a favourite picture book (or artist) whose illustrations you admire?

My all-time favourite picture books are David Weisner’s Tuesday, Marianne Dubuc’s The Lion and The Bird, and Beatrice Alemagna’s The Lion in Paris.

Letters to Ammi is being launched on 20th July at 5pm in Starmark Bookstore, Phoenix Marketcity, Chennai. The author, Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, will be in conversation with playwright and novelist Timeri N. Murari on the book and his connections to Delhi.