Author speak: Satadru Mukherjee on his debut picture book, “Good Morning India”

Satadru Mukherjee is a photographer, a multi-media whizz and a talented marketing professional, currently working in the corporate sector. Good Morning India is his first picture book. It has been published by Scholastic India.

Good Morning India is a simply told tale of a little girl waking up early in the morning looking forward to her day at school. The unnamed girl is chirpy, her happiness is infectious, as she greets everyone on her way to school. She describes the journey narrating how Abdul Chacha and Pandit Ji are off to their mosque and temple for the day. It is a happy time as she looks forward to spending the day with her friends the super smart Kasheef, the ever joyful Christina and prankster Aman as they board the school bus:

As we play together

Beneath a sky so blue,

We promise to live our lives 

Bound by friendship so true. 

It is a beautiful book filled with light and joy as emphasised by the bright colours used. It also conveys the message of peace with the symbolic presence of a white dove in every frame of the story. What is truly remarkable about this book is that there is nothing out of the ordinary in the description. The slice of India portrayed in Good Morning India is present all around us. It is not confined to a particular region or locality. There are many ways of seeing but we just have to see India for what it is and not with a prejudiced mind. Good Morning India is heartwarming little picture book which will be appreciated by young and old readers, alike!

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Satadru Mukherjee agreed very kindly to write a short note on why and how this book came to be written. Here it is:

I grew up in Kolkata at the turn of the century, waking up to the sound of the Azaan every morning. (I still do!  Now I stay in Delhi with a mosque quite close by my home.)

I would go to school (the 140+ years old Calcutta Boys’ School) each day and sing hymns, and start off the day with The Lord’s Prayer. Some of my best friends in school (we played football together) were from different religions. We went out pandal hopping during Durga Puja and stayed over at each other’s places. We were all invited for a Biryani feast during Eid celebrations at our Muslim friends’ homes. We are still the closest of friends. 

I was best friends with a gang of boys from the basti (jhuggis as they call them in Delhi) behind out house till the time I was in North Kolkata (till I was 9), and in fact got embroiled in a fist fight with boys from another basti group, till my dad arrived at the scene, caught hold of my ear and dragged me back home. 

During my college I used to save five rupees every day of my pocket money as our weekly treat was at a Muslim eatery called Qayum’s deep in the heart of central Calcutta, where you could get a plate of biryani for fifteen rupees!

Throughout my life, in spite of being brought up in a somewhat orthodox Brahmin family, my brothers and I always saw people and not what religion they belonged to.

When discussing this book with my publisher, we both agreed, given the current political scenario of aggressive polarization in the country Good Morning India should be a book that talks to young children about how all of us, irrespective of religion, can peacefully coexist. While writing this book, and working closely with the illustrators — my brothers Saswata and Susruta, — we really wanted to depict this sense of peaceful coexistence and equality that is the defining trait of India, to the young reader.

Good Morning India is scheduled to be released in mid-February 2019.

21 January 2019 

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