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RK Laxman - A legend who immortalised 'the common man'

Updated: Jan 28, 2015, 18:45 PM IST

The mighty pen and its power surely backed one of the most esteemed cartoonists that the country will remember in times to come, such was the personality of the genius called—RK Laxman.

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman was born in 1921, Mysore, India. The famed cartoonist who left us teary eyed on January 26, 2015 will be fondly remembered for glorifying the common man. He will be cherished forever as he brought out even the minute details of an ordinary man living his life to the forefront.

For decades together, the master of art could be identified from the cartoons that he drew for a leading daily reflecting society the way it was. Through his satirical lens, he showed us chronicles of Indian life and politics in the form of his sketches.

Popularly known for his ‘Common Man’ evocative and realistic cartoons, Laxman was respected by all and sundry.

RK was impressed by the illustrations in magazines such as The Strand Magazine, Punch, Bystander, Wide World and Tit­Bits.

The artistic streak in him as a child pushed him towards expressing through art and he began sketching his own drawings on the floors, walls and doors of his house and also made caricatures of his teachers. Well, the artist was in the making.

Being a self ­taught person, he was someone who was guided by his intuition and it flowed in the form of graphics. He discovered many things on his own, in an atmosphere away from the rules and shackles of society.

A child who lived a life full of fancies and doing whatever pleased him, eventually became a stalwart of the country. He believed that even the dull and monotonous things in life can be pepped up through the mind of an artist.

Post becoming a name revered worldwide as a famous cartoonist, traveling to many countries, meeting writers and artists of international stature did not make him any different person. He was humble and full of life.

Known as the creator of daily comic strip 'You Said It', Laxman notes in his autobiography, The Tunnel of Time: 'I drew objects that caught my eye outside the window of my room – the dry twigs, leaves and lizard­ like creatures crawling about, the servant chopping firewood and, of course, and number of crows in various postures on the rooftops of the buildings opposite'.

Laxman was initially married to a dancer and film actress Kumari Kamala Laxman, who began her film career as a child actress named 'Baby Kamala'. However, the couple got divorced and RK later married a woman whose first name was again Kamala.

The genius, also painted a cartoon of his wife Kamala Laxman, with the title 'The star I only met!' in a popular magazine.

Developing an affinity for drawing at an early age, RK illustrated his elder brother’s stories in a newspaper which eventually transformed into political cartoons. He also worked for `The Free Press Journal` in Mumbai with Bal Thackeray who was also a cartoonist before he found the Shiv Sena.

The man who was much appreciated for his outlook, was extremely witty and sarcastic, but never meant any harm to anyone or was spiteful. With an awakened sense of understanding, he became connected to the ordinary human life.

Talking about his achievements and the bar of success would do injustice to his extensive body of work. Apart from excelling in drawing caricature, animations in different arenas, RK is also known for his extraordinary illustrations in several books. Not to miss the famous 'Malgudi Days' that was written by his elder brother RK Narayan.

People will also remember him as the creator of the popular mascot of Asian Paints called 'Gattu'. Also, He published numerous short stories, essays, and travel articles, some of which were collected in ‘The Distorted Mirror’ (2003). His novels include, 'The Hotel Riviera' and 'The Messenger', the short­ story collection 'Servants of India', and an autobiography, 'The Tunnel of Time'.

Awarding such a dedicated man would be any person's honour. The cartoonist was felicitated with some of the most prestigious awards like the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan, and many more from the world of journalism.

His contribution to the world of journalism and illustration cannot be replaced ever and his loss is irreparable. Ripe with experience and art, RK is one of those souls who have gone beyond demise.

His pen made millions smile. RK Laxman is not dead, he can be found in his cartoons and works forever!