Google Doodle pays tribute to R.K. Laxman on his 94th birth anniversary

Oct 24, 2015, 06:29 IST | A Correspondent

Legendary cartoonist and creator of 'The Common Man' R.K. Laxman was honoured with a special Google Doodle on the occasion of his 94th birth anniversary

Legendary cartoonist and creator of 'The Common Man' R.K. Laxman was honoured with a special Google Doodle on his 94th birth anniversary.

The doodle depicts seated on a chair drawing a portrait of his immortal creation, 'The Common Man' standing besides it.

R.K. Laxman Google Doodle
Pic Courtesy/

The Google Doodle also features an illustrator's table to Laxman's left and a stool with a stack of picture frames placed on it and two frames leaning against the stool.

Born Oct 24, 1921, in Mysore, Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman and his brother R.K. Narayan, who later became a leading Indian English writer - besides four other brothers - had an ordinary childhood, as evidenced from Narayan's books, "The Malgudi Days".

At an early age, he lost his father, a school headmaster, his elder brothers took up the responsibility for managing the house while Laxman completed schooling.

He applied to Mumbai’s famed Sir J.J. School of Arts, but was rejected - his drawings failed the high expectations of the renowned institution.

Disappointed but not disheartened, Laxman joined Maharaja College, Mysore, and earned his B.A. degree from the University of Mysore, and came to Mumbai for a living.

Alongside academics, he pursued drawing, first with freelance contributions to local publications, ‘Swarajya’, ‘Swatantra’, and later sketched cartoons for brother R.K. Narayan's stories published in major news publications.

His earliest works with Mumbai media were a stint with the defunct Blitz, and then to the leading newspaper of that era, The Free Press Journal, as a staff cartoonist.

At that time, Laxman’s colleague was one soft-spoken gent, Bal Thackeray - who later became a commanding political force in Maharashtra - and they remained dear friends till Thackeray’s death Nov 17, 2012.

Laxman had an uncanny knack of caricaturing all humans - politicians, film stars, celebs or criminals - highlighting some or the other of their features and characteristics, which bestowed upon them an instant identity.

The antics of all his powerful subjects - who became equal under Laxman’s brutal pen and brush - were reduced to ordinary jokes or public buffoonery.

It was the bald head of the late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, who was rarely seen without the Gandhi cap, while it was the long pointed nose and narrow eyes for his daughter, Indira Gandhi.

Rajiv Gandhi was depicted as a confused, cherubic baby-faced youth, while younger brother Sanjay Gandhi was the naughty, enfant terrible of Indian politics, and Morarji Desai was one tall thin, grim man, standing ramrod, both in Laxman’s creations and in real life.

Who can forget the short and roly-poly perpetually grinning image of former deputy prime minister Jagjivan Ram or the potbellied S.B. Chavan with a stern, headmaster expression always on.

Once Laxman said at an informal gathering that politicians of every genre used to approach him and begged of him to make their caricatures, that would make them famous and 'noticeable'.

But, he would politely shoo them off, saying ‘when your time comes, I will make you a cartoon...’ - and mercilessly chronicled all the good, sad, grim and ugly historic events during his more than six decades of caricaturing.

Later, his works were compiled into a whopping nine volumes of pocket cartoons and a book of select political cartoons, “The Eloquent Brush” featuring his best commentaries from the Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi eras.

Laxman was invited by various organisations and governments to travel around and write and illustrate his memoirs - in the form of short stories or travelogues - as he did for Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and also Australia.

However, the government mandarins and politicians whom he slaughtered with his pen and brush, proved a forgiving lot when they honoured him with top civilian awards like Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, and on the international stage, he bagged the Magsaysay Award.

Laxman also wrote a few novels, many short stories and directed a movie “Wagle Ki Duniya” for the national television, his autobiography "The Tunnel Of Time" and later, a tele-serial based on his works was also launched.

Doted by his writer wife Kamala, son Srinivas, and daughter-in-law Usha, Laxman preferred to discard his home in the posh Malabar Hill, south Mumbai, to live in the quiet environs of Pune, just a couple of hours' drive away.

After a rich life, the creator of the man with a bushy moustache, tufts of hair on the rim of a balding head and perenially donning a chequered coat with patch-work - The Common Man, immortalised as a statue in front of an educational institute in Pune, died Monday at the age of 94.
With inputs from Agencies 

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