[Photo Sparks] Republic Day tributes: the early works of cartoonist R.K. Laxman


PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In this photo essay, we showcase the early works of the late great Indian cartoonist, R.K. Laxman, who passed away on January 26, 2015.

In the earlier 75 posts, we brought you a wide range of creative photographs from an art fair, world music festival, painting fair, telecom expo, art museum, mobile showcase, math museum, social hackathon, bookstore, co-working space, sensorium, international design week, flower show, outdoor ads, startup roadshow, computer museum, startup T-shirts, business cards, art therapy, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, Vesak, jazz festival, modern art gallery, ecopreneurs, painter-poets, health activists, eNGOs and digital innovators.

Exactly one year ago, on Republic Day of 2015, one of the greatest cartoonists of the world, R.K. Laxman, passed away. He was regarded as the ‘keeper of the conscience’ in India for over five decades, and his iconic character of ‘The Common Man’ was a benchmark of insights and humour in the messy and intolerant world of Indian politics. (See my earlier compilation: ‘My sketch pen is not a sword, it’s my friend’ – 25 quotes from the late great cartoonist R.K. Laxman’).

Winner of accolades ranging from Padma Vibhushan to the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Laxman’s work lives on through his books and exhibitions – one of which is running in Bengaluru this week at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC). To commemorate his first death anniversary, IIC in collaboration with the Koravanji-Aparanji Trust has organised an exhibition titled ‘Startup R.K. Laxman,’ a fitting title for this day and age.

The cartoons in the exhibition were drawn by Laxman for ‘Koravanji’ magazine way back in the 1940s, a Kannada humour monthly published by Dr. M. Shivram. Laxman created the cartoons along with another great humorist, N. Kasturi. The managing trustee of IIC, V.G. Narendra, fielded questions from a range of media at the gallery, which was packed with aspiring cartoonists, fans, business professionals, techies, banking leaders, academics and students. (See also my earlier coverage of the exhibited cartoons of Vladimir Kazanevski at IIC, and interview with this award-winning Ukrainian cartoonist.)

As the great Laxman shows in this collection, cartoons are a creative blend of art, satire, caricature, political messaging and humour. The exhibition featured around 60 cartoons, some of which are showcased in this photo essay (with English translations from the original Kannada text). On the occasion of Republic Day, YourStory salutes the creative work of India’s beloved patriot and cartoonist, and wishes all its readers a journey of commitment, success and pride.

‘He now works for the Rice Rationing Office!’

‘Leave it as it is. My boss always taunts me, saying ‘You have grown horns!’’

Slim as a scarecrow, but can carry the weight of an elephant!

‘Will you take me to the market?’ ‘Which market, sir?’ ‘The black market!’

Doctor and patient: ‘Did you leave the windows open, as I advised?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Did your headache vanish as I said it would?’ ‘Yes – and so did my specs, wristwatch and purse!’

‘He owes me Rs 20!’

How the same drug can be sold in multiple ways! [Left] ‘Take this medicine for one month, you will be thin as a stick!’ [Right] ‘Take this medicine for one month, you will be like a wrestler!’

‘How shall I cut your hair, sir?’ ‘With your mouth shut!’

‘Who can predict what is likely to happen these days?’ (note the banana peel on the ground!)

‘This toothpowder is really very effective, sir. It can be used to kill any insect!’

‘Don’t blame your neighbours. They called the doctor to tell him you were coughing all night!’

Myself: in my imagination; in a photo; my true self!

‘Watch out! He is the kid of the ration officer!’

Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.


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