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'Thackeray promised to visit my home again'

As I can’t move due to my health, Balasaheb had assured me that he would visit my house again when he visited my residence last year. I pray that God gives him the strength to fight his battle for life.” Earlier this week, veteran cartoonist R K Laxman expressed this sentiment after hearing about his former colleague’s health.

Bal Thackeray and RK Laxman
Bal Thackeray and RK Laxman in November 2011. File Photo

Laxman’s wife Kamala interpreted his mutterings, as he is not in a position to speak due to his health. “Since they are former colleagues from their days at the English daily Free Press Journal, they have been friends for six decades,” said Kamala.

She added, “Last week, Thackeray had called RK and enquired about his health. Earlier, he (Balasaheb) had also recommended the name of a homeopathic expert to check on my husband.”

Ninety-two-year-old Laxman described Thackeray as an excellent person, a very good human being and a great artist. “We were like brothers and had very good family relations. My daughter had met him at Matoshree when he fell sick. He loved the idlis my wife Kamala would make.”

Laxman had also expressed his desire to greet him on his next visit to Pune. “I pray to God to make my brother well soon,” said Laxman. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

‘Affectionate’
Other cartoonists from the city had echoed similar sentiments, praying for his recovery. Mangesh Tendulkar, a senior cartoonist from the city, said, “Thackeray admitted that his style was inspired from great artists like David Lee and Dinanath Dalal. He gradually stopped sketching when he established his own political party.”

Describing Thackeray, Tendulkar said, “I had the opportunity to work with him at his weekly magazine Marmik. My initial career was at the magazine under Balasaheb, who inspired me when I was nobody. I will never forget his humility, affection and sense of humour. Thackeray also inaugurated my cartoon exhibition at Savarkar Bhavan in Dadar, which helped boost my morale.”

Vikas Sabnis, a resident of Baner, who had worked under Thackeray for 12 years as a cartoonist in Marmik said, “Thackeray never interfered with my work or imposed his views on me. He treated me and my wife Bharati like a part of his own family, and gave us all affection like his own children.”

Cartoon meet postponed
Meanwhile, the All India Cartoon meet, scheduled for November 19 and 20 at the Balgandharv Rangmandir at JM Road, where Balasaheb Thackeray was expected to be the chief guest has been pushed to February 2013, after being postponed indefinitely last week, said Kailas Bhingare, organiser of the event.

Earlier, Bhingare had made a video CD on Balasaheb as a cartoonist. “He spoke on the art of sketching cartoons in this video. The 35 minute long CD is probably the only available audio-visual documentation of Balasaheb’s views. The CD was officially released a year ago on November 25, 2011, in the presence of RK Laxman and Thackeray himself. That was a memorable moment,” said Bhingare. 

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