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"Indian cartoons are more subtle than American ones"

1. Tell us about your new book, Excuse Me--Can We Have Our Country Back.
This book is a compilation of cartoons that speaks on the current socio-political scenario of our country. The common man struggles everyday against issues like corruption, governmental dysfunction and others. I have tried to show the status of the common man through tongue-in-cheek cartoons, illustrations and write-ups in this book.


Cartoonist Suraj Sriram with his latest book that succeeds his last Indira Gandhi--The Final Chapter.

Though Indian politics is targetted, no particular individual is pointed out. It’s for the people to guess. While there are a few promising leaders entering politics, people have bitter feelings about the entire issue and their fear is stopping them from expressing their anger. The cartoons are an attempt of expressing all these moods. It is my reaction to these diverse dilemmas.

2. You have been a member of the National Cartoonists Society of America. Is the situation different from India?
They are a privileged country; they accord high esteem to artists over there. They have freedom of speech and expression. Apparently, the quality of work is very high in that country. They can even stamp on their flag if they feel like it but on the other hand, they are very patriotic. This is the benefit of the liberty given to artists. They have cartoonists’ societies on regional levels going up to the national level. Here we don’t have such a thing. The Indian depiction of cartoons is more subtle; Americans are more in-your-face portrayers.


An illustration from the book

3. How do you approach your work? What aspects are needful for a cartoonist to come up with his best work?
I look everywhere for inspiration. Just drawing funny images is not enough, you need to think and correctly interpret what you have seen. While sketching something on paper, try to match the image with your databank that might veer from history and mythology to science. A cartoonist needs to be well-learned about the things happening around the globe.

This way, he can come up with a right match and an exact visual to portray his thoughts. Sometimes, such visuals can come in a flash, or it might take time. But making a perfect caricature is fun and challenging.

-Swapnal Tilekar

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