A doom’s day web-comic on a child’s last wish—to eat gulab jamun

Written by Varun Grover, Karejwa is an exceptional comic on apocalypse and food

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The world is ending in half an hour. There is chaos and mayhem on the streets. A family in Varanasi is fulfilling its last wishes. Youngest member, a boy names Pintoo, the protagonist of comic Karejwa, wants the sweetness of a warm, velvety gulab jamun, dissolving in your mouth before his final moments.

Karejwa is a web-comic written by screenwriter and lyricist, Varun Grover. It is a doom’s day story set in Varanasi. A meteor is about to strike the earth in thirty minutes. Pintoo’s last wish gets superseded by Daadi’s, and he must set on his own in pursuit of gulab jamun. The web-comic Karejwa is adopted from Grover’s eponymous short-story that was published in a children’s magazine.

Karejwa, the web-comic, is a textbook example of what good creative collaboration can achieve. Ankit Kapoor, a 20-something illustrator and animator has infused life in the comic with his illustrations in classic, retro style that transports readers to the comics of 80s and 90s.

A frame from Karejwa

Karejwa is published by Bakarmax, a platform founded by Sumit Kumar who is also the editor of the web-comic. Kumar has published graphic novels and comics in the past, the most recent one was a political history of India, Amar Bari Tomar Bari Naxalbari. Karejwa also (not-so-subtly) comments on the political atmosphere of the country.

The web-comic has animations sprinkled here and there—a TV news has a running strip of updates at the bottom. “Antilla leaves earth, Modi-Shah suspected to be on it,” the first one reads. This priceless layer of speculative fiction was not part of the original story (at least the version that we read). Or for that matter, the layer of political commentary, subservience and theatrics of TV channels, and public’s wilful denial of hard facts. Even with a dark theme and world-is-ending pessimism, Karejwa is light-hearted and has you rooting for Pintoo to get his gulab jamun before the inevitable happens.

Karejwa is an apocalypse woven with the writer’s die-hard love for the rare-known sweet delicacies found only in Varanasi, and at its very heart is the pursuit of warm, soft, steamy hot Karejwa— “A special gulab jamun made in Varanasi that’s as tender as a loved one’s broken heart”.

But did Pintoo get to eat Karejwa before the world ended? Read Karejwa to find out.

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