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Romance, Revolution, and Reclamation: Chandni Chowk through Chhotu’s Eyes

The year is 1947. Alongside the impending departure of the British, Partition also looms large. It is here that we meet Chhotu, a student-cum-cook specializing in paranthas in the famed gullies of Chandni Chowk. The area is a crucial setting for our hero’s coming-of-age story.

A visually engaging graphic novel by Varud Gupta and Ayushi Rastogi, Chhotu invites you to explore the lanes of Chandni Chowk like never before.

We give you a glimpse of your favourite gully in Delhi through Chhotu’s eyes.


Welcome to ‘‘Bapu’s Paranthas’! 

Tucked within the famous ‘gali paranthe wali’ of 1947, Bapu’s Paranthas (since 1938) has the most famous aloo ka paranthas, thanks to Chhotu’s culinary talent.

As Bapu puts it: ‘There’s nothing like a parantha to soothe your soul.’

Step into the Back Lanes for Extra Aloo

In a strange turn of events one day, all of Chandni Chowk runs out of potatoes; neither the local vendors nor any of the wholesale sellers seem to have any. Chhotu then finds his way into the back lanes, where Chumpak and Chameli are the only people who have aloo and have set up a gol gappa stall running a special offer with extra helping of potatoes.

The reader realizes soon that the two have something shady going on with the aloos, which Chhotu gets a sniff of.

Chhotu’s Favourite Place 

Our hero is smitten by the new girl in his class, Heer. As he (finally) works up the nerve to strike a conversation with her – by impressing her with his aloo paranthas, of course – he begins showing her around Chandni Chowk.

Chhotu eventually takes her to his favourite spot in Chandni Chowk – the cinema!

As it often does, the cinema becomes a spot for budding romance and conversation between Chhotu and Heer. As Lionel and Hathi plays on the screen, the two talk about their feelings, anxieties, and deepest fears – becoming closer in the process.

No Longer Home: ‘Chandni Chowk isn’t the place it used to be’ 

As India finally wakes up to its freedom (and Partition), Chhotu and his friends reflect on how things are and will be changing in their country.

Chandni Chowk is home for Chhotu, his best friend Pandey, and Heer. Their anxieties reflect a larger de-stability of the country during the time of the Partition.

Site of Revolution: The Teetar Gang of Chandni Chowk 

When Chhotu is thrown into jail on false charges of theft of potatoes, he befriends his cellmate Bandhu. Bandhu. Bandhu is part of a revolutionary gang called the Teetar Gang, who express dissent over the cost of freedom and fight against the communal divides taking over newly-independent India in the wake of Partition.

Hidden behind door number 1992, Kinari Bazaar in Chandni Chowk, the Chhotu joins the gang in an effort to make his home safe again.

‘No matter how hard it seems, you have to stand back up, we have to keep trying, not for yourself, but for others, for chandni chowk, and for India’, his best friend Pandey tells him.

In Chhotu, Chandni Chowk becomes a site of all the sentiments that defined the Partition period; loss of home, revolution, dissent, and reclamation.

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