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The Itch You Can’t Scratch – A Re-review

6 Jun

After the Comic Con 2010 ended, we were all on a high. My cousin had won a bundle of free comic as the 2nd prize, and he had left the entire thing at my place for me to consume. For all you foreign readers – It is an age old custom in India that whatever a younger brother wins, he has to share it with his elder brother. For reference, read the wiki about Draupadi. Yes. It is true. That is what we still do in India :P. For the non-American foreign readers, well, it’s just this arrangement between my cousin and I. He is the keeper, so I read and then he takes them, reads them and archives them. I am a mess and nothing stays safe with me.

Anyway, I digress. Among the lot, the first book I started reading The Itch You Can’t Scratch by Sumit Kumar (one of the writers for Savita Bhabhi, which was ONE of the reasons I picked this one up first) and I must say, it turned out to be a pretty interesting read, contrary to all my apprehension.

Main Cover: The itch you can’t scratch

People who claim to have the so-called Indian Values embedded in their spine and those who think sex is a taboo and so is speaking openly about your family and friends… well… You better stay away from this book; it’s definitely not for the likes of you. Seriously! Run away. Hush. Shoo, go watch some lowly reality Television show to satisfy that pervert voyeur within you or something, nothing here to interest you. GO! NOW!



Now that the Cult of Ekta Kapoor has vamoosed the hell out of here, let’s continue with the review.
Inside cover

It is a book / comic / er… graphic … novel (??), if you may, which describes the life of one Sumit Kumar, born in a middle class family, his father working with SBI making him move a lot because of the transferable nature of the job and with him going through various changes in life, getting stuck in unfortunate and sometimes idiotic and totally dumb situations, trying to get a hold of his life, trying to live up to his personal expectations, trying to materialize his dreams of having a “creative career”, getting stung en route, getting wiser, better and finally like any good old Boy Scout Superheroes, He conquers all hurdles to ultimately live his dreams. Well, the dry ones at least. (I am guessing that all the wet ones were utilized for those 3 scripts for Savita Bhabhi)

Personally I loved the content of the book (despite the crappy art, which I kindda liked, but that’s mainly because I can’t draw to safe my life from a homosexual orgy. The real artists might have a different opinion)

The book is shocking, revealing, funny and totally understandable. It is witty, crude, bitching, abusive, gross, revealing, genius, pathetic and crazy in parts. If I have to use only one adjective– It feels Familiar.

It’s one of those books which ANY average North Indian male, born in the 80s can associate with. The life with your typical family, stress on education, especially on becoming an Engineer or a Doctor preparing for IIT, MBBS, IIM, IAS, patronizing attitude of all adults – is all too familiar to me and everyone else who has had the pleasure and torture of growing up in a quintessential Indian Middle Class family.

It’s like those Beatles songs, which every teenager in love thinks was written specifically keeping him in mind. To use an example closer to home, it’s like Pehla Nasha from Jo Jita Wohi Sikander. Every High School kid in love thinks that the love he is feeling now is the one! That’s it. Nothing will ever top it – Until the next love or better still, sex comes along- and that this song was composed totally for him and no one else but him!

You can see the authors’ attempt at some honest humor coupled with the bittersweet symphony of the pain entwined with that humor, his success in achieving it, his honesty, his references, his lousy attempts to hide those references all too clearly in this 178 page bundle of fun.

His-story in the making? Sumit Kumar bares it all… (Click image to view full size)

Once I started it, I could not put it down. It reminded me a little of Douglas Adams and Peter Cook and Monty Python and Eddie Izzard for some reason. It has a very non-indian sense of humor (more towards British Humor) despite being an out and out Indian book, complete with grammatical errors (most of them deliberate), a complete potpourri of Hindi, English and part Rajasthani, with fake edits, numerous errors and all that jazz. The forecomic (sic) part is brilliant.

The characters are full of life, so –so familiar, you can instantly associate with them. A Chacha, who was a bitter drunk, another relation who died poor, a matriarch who holds the reins of the family tightly and firmly, the references are countless!

After Savita Bhabhi, I had very high expectations from Sumit Kumar, and he certainly lived upto them by delivering this gem of a book, which every Middle Class Indian fanboy should own. It is worth the price. I have already read it twice, once in its entirety and the second time – in part – some bits which I liked a little more than the other bits.

To be fair, I didn’t buy the book, I got it as a part of the prize goodie bag for the Cosplay on Day 1 that my cousin (the Wolverine) won, but I’m going to order one for myself too. I would like to keep one copy for myself.

If you like humor, if you want to seriously enjoy 178 pages of brilliance and craziness all rolled into one, go buy The Itch You Can’t Scratch!

Let me finish by saying – He is indeed one of us!

He sure is… Or that’s what we want him to believe…

As our good friends at DCP often say… Like It? Buy it!

‘nuff said!