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A LAUGH Riot with RK Laxman's Cartoons

R.K. Laxman

In collaboration with The Times of India, the Indian Institute of Cartoonists organized an exhibition of works of India's finest cartoonist, the living legend, Sri R.K. Laxman at the Cartoon Gallery on Friday.
The cartoons featured are the best from the Master's works. Though old age has slowed him down physically, his mental faculties continue to amaze his fans and readers across the world.
Sri R.K. Laxman, was born in Mysore and graduated from Maharaja College. For nearly five decades, he has been the unofficial mascot of the Times of India and tickling the bones of readers. His first cartoon was published in 'Koravanji', a Kannada Monthly published by late humourist Dr. Rashi (Dr.R. Shivaram).
NICE Chairman Ashok Kheny said RK Laxman is India and India is RK Laxman, after a look at the cartoons. "Calling him the Shakespeare of Indian cartooning, wouldn't be overstating it. A one-man institution of political humour, a national resource of satire is what he has been universally acknowledged as. The face of Indian cartooning to the world. Someone who, for about 54 years now, has every morning shown politicians what windbags they are," said Kheny.
R.K. LaxmanChildhood, for R.K. Laxman, was a happy series of doodles in a large family, and he practised with chalk on the floors of his house. When he learnt to wield a pen and pencil comfortably, he began to generously supply beards, moustaches and shaggy eyebrows to photographs or sketches which appeared in books and magazines. He got so good at this that one occasion, it is said, he upset a family acquaintance who felt that a picture of a goat that the young Laxman had embellished, looked just like him.
At a time when there were so few openings for cartoonists, Laxman was obstinate that no other profession appealed to him. A chance meeting with Walter Langhammer, art director of The Times Of India proved lucky. And a legend was born.
However, the Common Man, Laxman's signature as it were, took a while to evolve.
Apart from his daily cartoons, another passion with Laxman is to observe and sketch crows. Why crows? Because they are immensely intelligent birds, and are unfairly dismissed by fretting people as a nuisance.
Sri. Laxman is a recipient of Ramon Magaysays Award, Durga Ratandas Award, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, B.D. Goenka Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from IIC, Lifetime Achievement Award from CNN, IBN.  He has penned many novels including Hotel Riviera, The Messenger, Servants of India, The Tunnel of Time (Autobiography) and several collections of cartoons have been published. 

For over 54 years, he arrived at the Times of India office on the dot at 8.30 am, and set to work, blind and deaf to the bustle around him. Lately, however, he has been working from home, after his left side was incapacitated by a stroke. But Laxman's age and illness have not wizened his Common Man one whit. Perhaps because it is a most uncommon man who is drawing him.
The exhibition is on at Indian Cartoon Gallery No.1, Midford House, Midford Garden, Off M.G.Road, near Big Kids Kemp, B'lore, till Feb 21. Worth a repeat visit!

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