#EDExclusive: Priti Paul’s desi alphabet book is for kids and art lovers too

JAN 16, 2017 | By Aditi Sharma Maheshwari
The cover of ABC Desi, designed by Tania Singh Khosla of TSK Design features a painting of author Priti Paul’s son dressed as Krishna. All letters reflect objects with an Indian context. For instance the letter C showcases an Ambassador car, a cow and a crow. The letter L shows a typical Indian lock, and a lemon tied to a thread, used to ward off evil.
Photographs courtesy TSK Design
Indian parents and grandparents will be mighty pleased to finally find a way to familiarise their children with the Indian culture and symbols at the onset of their education….
ABC Desi by Priti Paul of Oxford Bookstores couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. Considering that most alphabet books today are offered by international publications, Priti decided that she wanted to teach her three children ABC, but in a desi manner. The idea stemmed a few years back, and she eventually got in touch with Tania Singh Khosla of TSK Design since they had worked together before. Thus began the artistic project that has not only presented audiences with a brand new way of teaching kids the alphabet, but also a masterpiece for art lovers to add to their collections.
Priti got in touch with a poster artist in New Delhi called Abbas and got him to start working on certain ideas on the canvas, which would be rendered later. “Priti asked me to visualise and give form to the book. When I saw the paintings that were already done I thought they were beautiful but too literal. This was my take on it – when you see a poster art, they pretty much tell you the whole story in one canvas. Like a narrative, you tend to get a glimpse of the entire movie. My idea was to have a book that would showcase a traditional art form, like that of poster paintings, but make it really contemporary. Since the audience is essentially children, it was important that we worked with isolated objects and not scenery, otherwise how would they know what to focus on?,” shares Tania.
Tania also roped in a Bengaluru based poster artist, Jeeva, whose father, Sampath had worked with her in the past, while doing the MTV office in the city. Eventually, Jeeva and Abbas both got on board to create art for the book. “The idea was to keep it very clean and bold. While the artform was traditional, we used contemporary and graphic techniques to lay it out on the book, so you will see a lot of gold foil stamping, embossing so as to give a little sensory experience, but not to make it look gimmicky. Also, each page had more than one object that is relevant to India – for example, the F for fan shows a Khaitan fan, the C for cars shows an Ambassador car and G for Gandhi is the only page that has only one object due to his larger than life stature in India. The size of the book was another aspect to give it a magnanimous presence – most of the paintings were done on a canvas; on smaller pages the brush strokes and detailing could be lost,” she shares.
The book is available in two versions: A large and a smaller, more affordable one so it can reach a wider audience. There are also some interesting hidden features in the book – the cover page actually features a painting of one of Priti’s sons dressed as Krishna, the page that shows a boy batting is a painting of her other son. “The book was essentially for her children, so Priti wanted to use the sketches of her own kids in it!” avers Tania.
The book was launched on January 15, at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival 2017. It can now be purchased at any Oxford Bookstores or on Amazon.
ABC Desi is available on and
Also read: Divya Thakur’s curatorial show is a throwback to our roots