Intro: Eminent Cartoonist RK Laxman, the creator of the ‘Common Man’ who made us laugh since decades has left us in tears. It is more than truth that no other Indian cartoonist has ever appreciated India and its masses as much as Laxman did.
On January 26, 2015, late in the day though, the celebrations died out as India mourned the loss of Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman popularly known as RK Laxman, the notable cartoonist, who had given much joy to generations across decades. He was 94.
The ‘Common Man’ creatively wove the significance of the hopes, aspirations, difficulties and may be even foibles of the average Indian, through a daily comic strip, “You Said It”, his daily cartoon had appeared on the front page of The Times of India for more than 50 years. The comic was started in 1951. Laxman, brother of late novelist RK Narayan was India’s best-loved cartoonist. For over half a century, we have been waking up to the ‘Common Man’ his immortal creation. One of the incredible characters amongst the cartoonist Journalists the world has ever seen, Laxman had a long journey through the four decades bringing the common man of India to the face of millions of Indians who opened The Times of India.
Each cartoon was an extremely alive issue of the country—be it the political issue, public figures, social factors or scientific administration. We have come across his sheer brilliance giving us amazing perspective to the ordinary events we all witness day in and day out. No other Indian cartoonist or journalist has ever appreciated India and its masses as much as Laxman did, it is more than truth. On account of this he had a wide space to cover from the lives of millions of common Indians. Laxman’s cartoons reflected such thespian as well as dramatic moment of an event which had something before and something after. Laxman, the creator of ubiquitous mute spectator presented such critical spot where we can get the whole ambience. The works had lots of reflections of laxman's genius.
A creative genius, Laxman always had a rather distinctive way of looking at things. His Common Man cartoons had lampooned just about every feature of political and social life over the past five decades. At long last, the legendary cartoonist determined to write the story of his life called The Tunnel of Time: An Autobiography, the anecdote was instilled with the same acerbic wit and quizzical insights we are so accustomed to, while the tone was that of a relaxed after-dinner conversation. There are narratives here that can rival the most eerie adventures of the ‘Common Man’.
Laxman was besieged by gamblers who were convinced they could see lucky numbers obscured in his cartoons, mistaken for a Mexican and excluded from attending an invitation dinner on Park Avenue as he was carrying a raincoat, and charged with importing obscene literature into the country because a friend had sent him a copy of Playboy. These images were peppered with captivating thumbnail sketches of luminaries ranging from Graham Greene to VK Krishna Menon.
Constantly hunting for the contradictions that make life erratic and reveling in absurd juxtapositions, Laxman adorned his canvas with a keen sense of humour and the satirist’s aptitude to take a whimsical, cock-eyed look at just about anything under the sun. He was a gifted storyteller who pulled the reader along on an enchanting, comical journey down the corridors of time.
Mithun Dey (The writer is a columnist)