Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Simplicity refined, R.K.Laxman...

Today morning as I was following the news, just saw this on the idiot box, famous cartoonist and humorist R.K.Laxman being conferred the CNN-IBN Lifetime Achievement Award at a function in New Delhi.

Though I saw this snippet for less than two minutes, it touched me greatly. A simple man, R.K.Laxman bursting out in tears on the stage speaks about his simplicity and illustriousness. This man along with his brother, R.K.Narayan had created an epoch with the all time chef-d'oeuvre that is read and followed by both young and old across all age groups, Malgudi Days. I am a big big fan of R.K.Narayan's books and this silent brother of his who is best recognized as the creator of the Common Man, occupies an inescapable part in our lives. The Common Man, who represents the mute millions, speaks to us through the master strokes of R.K.Laxman for more than five decades now. Inadvertently many of us are connected to this maestro both in the papers and in our lives.

When I see this video, in a very child like manner, this wizard, R.K.Laxman, tells that his journey of making cartoons started since he was 5 years old.

Just think, how the simplicity of the Common Man, who never speaks has become the first thing to look for in our daily dosage of newspaper reading. Here is a character dressed in a patched kurta, holding a hapless umbrella, with round glasses appearing perpetually confused yet has conveyed to us each and every snippet of social, political, economics and for that matter every fabric of life. His Common Man, is a speechless chap who never speaks in the cartoons, but has managed to this day to raise important issues affecting the country with aplomb, all with a generous dose of humor.

Definitely R.K.Laxman, is a genius who has covered each and every color and flavor of life through his Common Man. What is marvelous in this whole affair is the endurance of the Common Man who has survived to this day despite his commonness, not as a straw man but as a Must Check attribute in our lives in the mornings. I stress on the word 'commonness' as this is rare trait that one can find easily in people these days. Laxman's cartoons bring to light on a softer note, the political hypocrisy and equivocation with wit, insight and irony.

This old man was once denied admission to the JJ School of Arts of Mumbai in his youth and heydays. The lack of talent was cited as the reason for not granting him admission to one of the best Fine Arts institution in India. Time passed and things fell in place and this humble soul later became the creator of few icons that adorn the print and the visual media even today. The famous Gattu of the Asian Paints ad which I have been watching since my childhood is Laxman's conception. With an idea to brand his airline, Air Deccan as the common man's airline, Gopinath has even used The Common Man as the logo of his airline.

It was indeed a great pleasure to see this man, R. K. Laxman on the stage, sans the regular ones such as the Murthys, Premjis, Birlas, Ambanis, and Tatas who invariably share the stage in most of these sorts of functions.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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