Not every reader today might remember iconic cartoonist RK Laxman’s equally iconic character, dubbed the Common Man, who for decades was an astute yet silent spectator of India’s political, bureaucratic and societal failures. For close to 50 years, he appeared in the single-frame political cartoon series titled 'You Said It' in The Times of India daily newspaper, never speaking, only listening as Laxman’s witty and sarcastic one-liners completed the story.
When Laxman stopped drawing, owing to ill health, his followers were left adrift. He passed away in 2015, marking the end of an era. Only his books – collections of You Said It, remained.
Today, a company called Common Man Works is trying to bring him back to our screens in animated form, and if all goes well, he will hit our screens sometime in 2019.
Assemblage Entertainment has partnered with RK IPR Management, a company led by Laxman’s friends and family, to form the joint venture, Common Man Works. It was launched on Monday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with the launch of Laxman’s previously unpublished works, Timeless Laxman.
Arjun Madhavan, Director of Assemblage Entertainment and Common Man Works, told YourStory that in 2017, Laxman’s daughter-in-law approached them about turning the Common Man into an animation series. “My father had met RK Laxman back in the day so they were already acquainted,” he says, adding, “As we started exploring the idea, we realised we should do this together and set up a new company.”
Not many know that Laxman always wanted to turn his iconic property into an animation because that was the only way the iconic character could go on to stay alive in people's memories.
Dressed in a checked jacket, with rimmed glasses and tufts of hair on the side of his bald heat, the Common Man was somebody that the average citizen related to.
“The Common Man's ordinary appearance and extraordinary wit have been endearing to the public. His comic style and vintage charm have always struck a chord with the country,” says Arjun.
The project promises to bring Laxman’s iconic cartoon character to life, in animated form and across different platforms for the new generation with time-relevant storylines. And to do so, preparations are in full swing with aid of a dedicated team of artists and craftsmen.
“As we re-contextualize and re-imagine the Common Man in today’s India, a younger more digital India, the character adapts to and adopts the country’s very latest dynamic. From Aadhaar Card to digital payments, from financial inclusion to social acceptance, the Common Man is symbolic of the multitude and diversity that this country offers,” Arjun explains.
Common Man Works will soon be shopping their animated content to broadcasters and various OTT platforms. And if all goes as planned, comics lovers would have the Common Man on their screens as soon as 2019.
“No other character in comic form would have a wider mass appeal than the common man itself – and we aspire to make this IP (Intellectual Property) in its renewed avatar as India’s contribution to the world of characters and content. We'd do this through various platforms, including networks and TV, OTT/SVOD plays, digital platforms and other forms of distributing the content,” says Arjun.
There may still be a few days to go before we step into the new year. But with such exciting news in store, who can blame us for being eager about 2019 already.