Category Archives: Art

How Palghat gave birth to cartooning gharana

palghat

Palghat, or Palakkad, in Kerala is famous, as the former chief election commissioner T.N. Seshan once said, for “cooks, crooks, civil servants”.

And Carnatic musicians.

And cartoonists.

The landlocked town with exactly two landmarks has produced four top-class political cartoonists for New Delhi’s newspapers: P.K.S. Kutty, O.V. Vijayan, Ravi Shankar, and E.P. Unny.

In the Indian Express magazine supplement Eye, Unny writes about the common muse for cartoonists from the “Palghat gharana“:

“Warmer than the rest of Kerala, the beach-less Palakkad isn’t visibly touristy. Nature, however, made up by putting us in the big gap in the Western Ghats — a land port that facilitated much movement, including full-scale invasions.

“First, by the Sultans of Mysore and close on their heels, the British. Hyder Ali’s engineer built a fort here and the Brits a college. Between the two landmarks (there isn’t a third), the municipal town lay neatly bracketed.

“Our world was a low-rise sprawl in parenthesis. No scenic backwaters and stuff. True, we didn’t have to look far for paddy fields but the stretch never seemed quite as green as it turned out in photographs. We have a river as well, nudging the Tamil Brahmin settlement in Kalpathy but the poets have the first lien on it.

“Under such visually-deprived circumstances, you couldn’t doodle your way to a finer art than cartooning. Even as cartoonists go, the Palakkad gharana tended to be sparse. Kutty trained with Shankar, a master who crafted at length, but quickly switched to a workaday functional style.

“Vijayan betrayed no sense of place. His characters floated in a political space that turned increasingly sombre — against a broad dark backdrop, he created with a khadi cloth dipped in Indian ink. Acerbic wit delivered with a Gandhian flourish. Ravi Shankar, Vijayan’s nephew, has an eye for the minutiae, as yet unexplored.”

Image: courtesy CD and LP

Read the full article: The homecoming cartoonist

MUST READ: Shankar’s Weekly final editorial

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‘Hindu family’ chucks out ‘professional’ redesign

hindu

Four days after The Hindu board summarily decided to pause its ongoing “professionalisation” process, the Mount Road Mahavishnu has reverted to its previous design, as promised by chairman N. Ram in a tweet (below).

On the left (top) is the October 21 issue, the last with Varadarajan at the helm, and on the right is the October 24 issue with editor-in-chief N. Ravi back in the editorial saddle.

Very little of Deepak Harichandan‘s “chic new design” is left in the new “old” paper, which was designed by India’s favourite Spanish designer, Mario Garcia after Ram’s return as editor.

The banner-panels are gone; the story slugs are gone; the “Short Takes” on the left have shifted to the right as “Briefly”; the font of the lead story is back to the past; the emblematic blue colour for story jumps gives way to beige, etc.

Only the tagline “India’s National Newspaper since 1878” remains, although its colour too has changed from blue to red.

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deepak Like all redesigns, Harichandan’s visualisation for The Hindu—a “pastiche‘ of The Times of India and The New Indian Express, where he had worked—had its fans and foes, amongst journalists within The Hindu and, more importantly, readers.

While the younger lot said it was the way to go if it had to catch up with the times, the “old school” squirmed at design taking precedence over text, while older readers complained of how difficult it was to navigate through the paper and virtually impossible to read the graphics.

Photograph: courtesy newspaper design

Also read: The great grandmother of all newspaper battles

Another boiler-plate redesign from Mario Garcia

Good heavens, another Mario Garcia redesign

Yet another paper redesigned by Mario Garcia

How come Mario Garcia didn’t redesign this one?

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

When an editor draws a cartoon, it’s news

MJ

Indian print editors have done book reviews (Sham Lal, Times of India), film reviews (Vinod Mehta, Debonair), food reviews (Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times), music reviews (Chandan Mitra, TOI, Pioneer, The Sunday Observer; Sanjoy Narayan, Hindustan Times), elephant polo reviews (Suman Dubey, India Today) etc, but few have done cartoons.

When The Telegraph, Calcutta, was launched Pritish Nandy (who later became the editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India) would do a daily, front-page pocket cartoon, with Mukul Sharma (who later became the editor of Science Today) writing the caption, and vice-versa.

Even today, former Statesman and Indian Express editor S. Nihal Singh is a happy doodler.

In the latest issue of Open magazine, its editor Manu Joseph (who has set crossword puzzles at his previous port of calling, Outlook) puts his signature on a cartoon. Let the record show that “Pope” Joseph‘s handwriting bears a close similarity with Dr Hemant Morporia, the radiologist who draws cartoons.

Also read: If The Economist looks at Tamil News, it’s news

When a stringer beats up a reporter, it’s news

When the gang of four meets at IIC, it’s news

When a politician weds a journalist, it’s news

When a magazine editor marries a starlet, it’s news

When dog bites dog, it’s news—I

When dog bites dog, it’s news—II

How seven cartoonists drew one TOI cartoon

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As part of its dodransbicentennial celebrations, The Times of India has published “a cavalcade of cartoons over 175 years”. Titled “Jest in Time“, it is put together by Ajit Ninan, Neelabh Banerjee and Jug Suraiya.

At its launch in New Delhi on Monday, seven well-known cartoonists—Sudhir Tailang from Deccan Chronicle, Manjul from Daily News and Analysis, Keshav from The Hindu, Jayanto from Hindustan Times and R. Prasad from Mail Today—joined hands to produce a cartoon (in picture, above) on the spot.

Saira Kurup reports on the jugal bandi:

“Keshav set the tone by drawing the new common man forced to tighten his belt in difficult times. Tailang followed with an illustration showing P.V. Narasimha Rao giving his ‘student’ PM Manmohan Singh a poor report card. Manjul’s version of the common man was one who doesn’t speak but tweets instead!

“Jayanta then drew the laughs by drawing a neta with a loudspeaker as his head “because netas are not doing what they are supposed to; they just keep shouting!” To audience applause, Ninan put the artwork in context by sketching Parliament, and Banerjee gave the final touch by showing the common man holding up the House on his shoulders.”

Image: courtesy The Times of India

How journalism helped a cartoonist as author

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Author and playwright Manjula Padmanabhan, who created Suki, a female cartoon character for the now-defunct Sunday Observer, has a new book out, Three Virgins and Other Stories.

In an interview in Mint, she is asked:

What effect has your life as a journalist had on your fiction?

My early training to be a journalist powerfully shaped the way I look at reality and then bend it towards an idea I want to follow. I know what it’s like to write a news story—presenting facts in a coherent and readable manner—but I far prefer to open up existing boxes of facts to speculations about their contents. Does that make sense? Being a journalist gave me the tools with which to write fiction more effectively (or so I imagine) than I felt I could write non-fiction.

Among the stories in Padmanabhan’s book is on a TV journalist “Basra Dott” who vows to fight for her cause before matters take a deadly turn.

Read the full interview:

A national newspaper goes ‘local’ in Bangalore

NEWHINDU

The Hindu has unveiled a new hyper-local look in Bangalore with the tagline “Bringing Bangalore Back to You”.

Writes the paper’s editor Siddharth Varadarajan in a front-page note:

“Why you might ask. After all, Bangalore has known The Hindu for its credible, fearless and unfettered reportage. For never dumbing down. For vanguard journalism that brings the world to your doorstep. But Bangalore has evolved, and so have we. So we bring Bangalore back to you….

“We bring the city to you in a chic new design with a fresh clutch of content: sharp investigative stories and new columns in the main edition, and a crosses and mains neighbourhood view of your locality in Bangalore Local, our weekend special.”

For the record, The Times of India leads the Bangalore market, with Deccan Herald a distant number 2, followed by Bangalore Mirror. The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle and DNA are all jostling for the fourth to seventh places in India’s most crowded English newspaper market.

How Praja Vani reporters tracked Karnataka poll

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On the day politicians count their seats in the Karnataka assembly elections, the 65-year-old Kannada daily newspaper Praja Vani, from the Deccan Herald group, has a page one, colour-coded graphic that chronicles the journeys undertaken by its reporters to bring the poll to its readers.

The final score: over 27 days, 10 reporters (including three women) travelled 15,000 kilometres to bring 66 spot reports.

Dinesh Amin Mattoo, Praja Vani‘s well-regarded former Delhi bureau chief,  now an assistant editor based in Bangalore (represented in red), alone travelled 4,150 km across 14 of the State’s 30 districts.

Image: courtesy Praja Vani