Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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The R K Laxman I knew; Some pleasant memories recalled

Sriram koramangala

With the passing away of R K Laxman on the evening of Republic Day 2015 – an era has ended.
An icon and legend that he was, who created another icon – that he presented to the world – viz the ‘Common Man’. He was in fact a great iconoclast, in that he exposed the hollowness, sheer arrogance and lack of intellectual honesty that one sees around us even now – By pricking the balloon of their ego – through his cartoons which became the last word in humour and with satirical bite. But all without malice.
In 1945-46 I was a student of the Intermediate College in Mysuru, later called Yuvaraja’s College – standing next to the famed Maharaja’s College. Laxman was in Senior BA. But since we shared some values and perhaps had common wave lengths, I joined an informal group setup called Yakoobs. We met, organised lectures, one act plays and so on.
Laxman played an important role. Basically a simple soul, he was a great human being. Maharaja’s College had both very earnest students, and a glittering galaxy of faculty. The atmosphere was congenial and intellectual in every sense.
R K Laxman’s talent as an ace cartoonist, first came to the front through the pages of a Kannada magazine ‘Koravanji’, devoted to humour. It was started by Dr M Shivaram and had the benefit of the great writers like N Kasturi, who though a Prof of English wrote in Kannada.
This was long before Laxman joined the Times of India in 1949 – then owned by the British company Bennet Coleman & Co.
It was war time with the 2nd World War still on and there was shortage of everything. Severe rationing of items like sugar, petrol and  food grains. So there was a flourishing black market. ‘Koravanji’ with Laxman’s cartoons exposed some of these.
R K Laxman married the reputed dancer Kamala (also his niece) and she became Kamala Laxman.
In those early days, Laxman had a colleague in TOI, the Late Bala Saheb Thackery, who later founded the Shiv Sena.
While on the subject of cartoons and Laxman, we need to remember another icon ‘Shankar’ who ran the Shankar’s Weekly in Delhi – and to whom Nehru said, ‘’Don’t spare me Shankar’.
Also, nearer home is ‘Murthy’ whose cartoons graced the pages of Deccan Herald and ‘Mario Miranda’ also in Times group Illustrated Weekly of India.
Ashok Kheny of NICE Road fame, has set up Cartoon Gallery on the cross road near Trinity Circle MG Road where one can visit.
Even if R K Laxman is not with us sadly his spirit will be immortal – as a great creator and a lovable icon who made us all smile.
Sriram koramangala-R Sriram
former Member Technical KEB &
resident of Koramangala

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