R K Laxman's doodles during family conversations remain unpublished

Kolkata: Although his cartoons are well known, many of legendary R K Laxman's doodles that revealed a more personal aspect of the creative genius are still lying unpublished in his family's collection.

When the 'Shakespeare of Indian cartooning' came on holidays to Mysore and Bangalore during 1975-1991, he sketched hundreds of doodles, some of which were an extension of his conversations with his late brother R K Srinivasan.

This personal collection is now in the possession of Laxman's nephew R S Krishnaswamy. "They were sketched at home during conversations with us."

"He drew whatever thought occurred to him at that time. The figures are not any recognisable persons," he told PTI over the phone from Bengaluru. Unpublished so far, these doodles were sketched on paper using a blue ink ballpen.

R K Laxman
Legendary cartoonist R K Laxman

Many of such doodles are now lost due to lack of proper upkeep of the pieces of paper. The Indian Institute of Cartoonists have digitally restored around 101 of them. V G Narendra, managing trustee of the institute, said these doodles were getting destroyed and so they decided to preserve them with plastic coatings and digitally scan them.

"We now have the digital print outs of those doodles and we will exhibit it in our gallery in Bengaluru on this Saturday for his fans," he said. Laxman's family members recall that due to his relentless habit of sketching doodles any time of the day, he was
nicknamed 'Doodu' in the house.

Laxman passed away yesterday in Pune at the age of 94. Doodles are sketches drawn absentmindedly. As a child, Laxman used to doodle 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.

The cartoonist's nephew said his uncle was so fond of creating meaningless doodles during holidays that his father had brought him a big scrap book where he could sketch on that day's specific chat with him. Some of the topics of conversation were poverty,
politics, and similarities between all religions of India. A "winter whiskey session" between the brothers was also reflected in some of the doodles, Krishnaswamy said.

In 1991, Laxman drew an essence of his chat with his brother on the evolution of the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. A Padma Vibhushan, Laxman is inarguably the face of Indian cartooning to the world and is best known for his creation 'The Common Man', which became his signature style.

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