‘THE CONTRACTOR & THE ENGINEER’ –It is a narrative set around the character of an Indian engineer in his mid-twenties living and working in Manhattan, New York. He takes three weeks’ leave from his job to travel to his native city in India, Vizag–and finds himself–unpremeditated–returning The States a married man.
Anand, the protagonist, the “Engineer,” was requested by the potential wife prior to the marriage to sign a prenuptial contract as a condition for marriage –stating that either his new spouse–hence the “Contractor” could annul the marriage with no further questions.
While Roopa remains in India awaiting her travel papers to join Anand–Anand gets involved romantically with his bisexual friend Prinny Alavi, who prior to his marriage, occupied the adjacent apartment in the same building as Anand.
Roopa eventually arrives in Manhattan to join Anand. On the last leg of her journey from Vizag on an Air India flight into New York’s JFK–she befriends a young Kuchipudi dancer and Ph.D. candidate at Hyderabad’s Central University, Protima Narayan–who will give a one-month workshop at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts. In the one month, Protima is in Manhattan–just a 10-minute walk from Anand and Roopa’s apartment in the West Village–Protima senses a sort of unsatisfied ennui in Roopa’s marriage–given Anand finds himself in the office most of the day and is too tired to interact upon his return to the apartment. It is through Protima–not Anand–that Roopa “discovers” both the standard sights and hidden charms of Manhattan through daily excursions in the city and once on a chilly walk through Central Park, culminating in a brunch at the famous landmark Tavern on the Green.
After Protima’s departure back to Hyderabad–Roopa enrolls in the MFA photography program at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn that she had been accepted into while still in Vizag. . She falls precariously in a romantic relationship with a fellow student, Sunil Ghanshani, an undergrad from Bombay’s JJ College of Arts three years her junior, in the program.
A year and a half after their wedding in Vizag -Anand & Roopa’s marriage hit on the rocks–but there is a glimmer of hope from the most unexpected source … Protima in the end–despite her inappropriate incursions into Roopa’s marital affairs–has a heart and intentions that are revealed to be of gold…
The outcome is predictable, and the premise has been done in countless permutations and combinations in other narratives presented in books, films, and media.
So “Paradigm Shift”: in which context would the term apply to Rao’s latest work?
Rao claims the writing and artwork–unlike his prior graphic novel work–has been given detailed consideration as to quality issues–specifically in the effective translation of Rao’s vision through the 3D Application Daz Studio and GIMP software (both of which are available for free on the web)–into the individual panels and resulting page layouts delivering the narrative Rao intends to deliver. No compromises have been made because of limitations of the software–and consider the fact that Rao has no freehand illustration or painting skills: everything is done using a standard mouse and keyboard.
Rao also claims he intends to present the first narrative in comic book format, addressing issues of marriage and relations from a unique cross-cultural perspective. Rao’s own student day memories in New York and during summer holidays in India are the source of the observations from which he constructed the narrative for THE CONTRACTOR & THE ENGINEER.
Rao will launch THE CONTRACTOR & THE ENGINEER in English and Telugu at the next forthcoming Hyderabad Comic Con held bi-annually at HITEC City.