A look at Mario Miranda's best works

He made Miss Fonseca and Miss Nimbupani household names, as his sketches captured the charm and essence of good ole’ Mumbai. On the occasion of Mario Miranda’s birth anniversary, we celebrate the late cartoonist’s most compelling works

Today, Mario Miranda continues to live on in the city through his work. While the wall painting at Café Mondegar in Colaba, that showcases city life, is as iconic as the café itself, there are a few outlets that also sell Miranda’s prints in different formats.

Jazz Yatra at Rang Bhavan, one of Mario Miranda’s iconic prints that highlighted yesteryear Mumbai. Pic Courtesy/Storyltd
Jazz Yatra at Rang Bhavan, one of Mario Miranda’s iconic prints that highlighted yesteryear Mumbai. Pic Courtesy/Storyltd

One of them is that sells the legendary cartoonist’s collections including originals, limited editions and open editions. The art portal is part of Saffron Art, a platform for fine art and collectibles. “The original drawings, and limited-edition and open-edition prints were acquired from a variety of consignors.

Temple in Kyoto. Limited EditionTemple in Kyoto. Limited Edition

The sales for this collection have been excellent. Mario Miranda is so widely known and accomplished, as a cartoonist and as an artist, that the works market themselves,” says Nish Bhutani, chief operating officer, Saffronart.

“Yatra...and all that Jazz...”  Zakir Hussain
“Yatra...and all that Jazz...”  Zakir Hussain

Mario’s Yatra...
StoryLTD currently has a collection of works called ‘Yatra...and all that Jazz...’, a series of original sketches and portraits of the Jazz Yatra Festivals held in Mumbai at the Rang Bhavan from 1980 to 2004.

The Weather Bureau Original
The Weather Bureau Original

“These are hidden gems addressing a relatively unknown subculture of music at a nascent stage in India, and each of his sketches tell a story. This collection, and the many others we have on sale, bear testament to the wonderfully observant artist — a historical documentarian even— that Mario Miranda was,” Bhutani points out.

New Government Original
New Government Original

According to Bhutani, some of Miranda’s other popular works include his art on Goan culture and its beautiful landscape. “He captures the spirit of this place perfectly, and through Miranda’s works, this tiny state’s hybrid character — a mix of Portuguese colonisation and the innate Konkani nature of laid-back ease — really comes forth in a burst of bustling motion and witty caricatures.

Boat Chugging Past the World Trade Centre. Limited Edition. Pics courtesy/storyltd
Boat Chugging Past the World Trade Centre. Limited Edition. Pics courtesy/storyltd

Besides his Goan works, his incisive political cartoons are also universally known. In many ways, Miranda has been an integral part of the Indian national consciousness, as a political commentator and artist. His works, steeped in wit and hilarity, were instrumental in shining light upon the genre of political cartoons,” says Bhutani.

One can also opt for some of Miranda’s lesser-known works like his travel sketches of cities like New York, Paris, Berlin, London, Kyoto, Singapore, among others.

Miranda on mugs
If you wish to add some Mumbai nostalgia to your décor or are keen to pick up an unusual gift, head to Mario Gallery, a six-month old kiosk located at Bandra. The store houses myriads of Mario Miranda prints that are presented on postcards, wall hangings, tiles, plates and bowls, salt and pepper cellars, mugs, T-shirts, bags, magnets as well as books.

These works on Parsis and dentists are in demand at the Mario Gallery
These works on Parsis and dentists are in demand at the Mario Gallery

The gallery is also going to start selling key chains as well as mobile and tablet covers. “We source all the prints and merchandise from Mario Gallery Goa who hold copyrights for over 10,000 artworks by him in the legal custody of Gerard da Cunha (curator of the gallery),” says Shabana Chawla, owner of the store.

Dinner A La Carte
Dinner A La Carte

With merchandise ranging from `10 (for postcards) to `4,000 (for coloured ceramic tiles), the gallery has received a warm response from city patrons since the time it has opened. “The Map of South Bombay and the print of local train are hot favourites. Most visitors are familiar with the works, and usually come back for more.

A rainy day in Bombay. Pics Courtesy/Mario GalleryA rainy day in Bombay. Pics Courtesy/Mario Gallery

Even customers unfamiliar with the cartoonist are drawn by his humour and are very interested in learning more about him. We are planning another similar kiosk in South Mumbai in a few months,” signs off Chawla.

Pic/Sameer Markande

Available at: Mario Gallery, beside Shoppers Stop, Suburbia Mall, Linking Road, Bandra (W).
Time: 11.30 am to 9.30 pm, daily
Call: 7506824406
Note: Check gallery to buy images on this page

‘This is a city of Mario’s imagining’
Jerry Pinto Author, poet & translator
Mario was an incredibly gifted cartoonist. His sense of line was magnificent and his ability to conjure up the madness of Mumbai’s crowds was much imitated but completely unparalleled. Look now into one of those scenes and you will see faces with confusion, faces with amusement, faces with bemusement, but whenever anger shows up, it is caused by something silly, something avoidable.

Jerry Pinto Author, poet & translator

This is the city of his imagining, where we lived together: the man in the fez and the man in the dhotar, the man who wore a cross and the man who wore a kirpan, and we all acknowledged that it was an unlivable city but it was never an unlovable one. Mario also worked in a time when the work of cartoonists was treated with something near contempt.

I picked hundreds of Mario cartoons, original drawings, off the floors of The Times of India. Unlike RK Laxman who guarded his cartoons like a hawk, Mario could not be bothered with retrieving the originals. Over the years, I gifted these to my friends and family. Not many of them kept them.

I hope they’re as sorry as I am that I ever let them go as Diwali gifts and Christmas cards. I know Shashi Baliga, when she was the editor of Filmfare, also kept some of the originals and gave them to her friends. I hope by then they had the sense to preserve what they were given.

‘He has been a huge inspiration’
Savio Mascarenhas Art Director for children’s publishing, ACK Media
As an artist, Mario Miranda has been a huge inspiration for me and I have been following his work dedicatedly since my childhood when I first came across his illustrations in the Bal Bharati textbook in the first standard. In the 1990s, Mario Miranda ruled Mumbai with his illustrations and caricatures.

Savio Mascarenhas Art Director for children’s publishing, ACK Media

I would look forward to his pocket cartoons that would appear in Afternoon DC, waiting eagerly to see his take on the current state of affairs. His humour was sharp and witty and he brought out the essence of Mumbai through the lifestyles of different characters ranging from common men to socialites to politicians.

The contribution of Miranda’s works to the city has been immense. Even today, I often visit Café Mondegar only to observe his illustrations on the wall.

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