Tag Archives: E.P. Unny

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

Absolute Annarchy, and what’s more it is online

An online exhibition of cartoons by E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express has gone live. Curated by Sundara Ramanathaiyer of the Centre for Comic Arts (CCA), the cartoons examine the Anna Hazare campaign through the eyes of India’s foremost political linesman.

Visit the exhibition: E.P. Unny

Did R.K. Laxman subtly stifle Mario’s growth?

MARIO, BY KESHAV

The passing away of  the legendary Illustrated Weekly of India, Economic Times and Femina cartoonist and illustrator Mario Miranda in Goa on Sunday, has prompted plenty of warm reminiscences from friends, colleagues and co-linesmen, along with a vicious doosra.

Bachi Karkaria recalls her colleague from the third floor of The Times of India building in Bombay:

What can I say about Mario? That he was one of India’s most distinctive cartoonists? That he was arguably an even better serious artist in the detail and spirit with which he captured the places he lived in and visited? That he, along with Frank Simoes, gave Goa to the world?

That he was to the magazines of The Times of India what R.K. Laxman was to the daily paper? And, dare I say it, that Laxman was the Lata Mangeshkar who subtly ensured that the pedestal was not for sharing?

***

Pritish Nandy in the Economic Times:

Mario had a room on the same floor where I sat. And when I moved into the editor’s corner room at The Illustrated Weekly of India, a few months later, his room was next to mine. But that didn’t mean anything because Mario rarely came to office.

He worked on his cartoon strips mostly at home in Colaba and was awful with deadlines. This was largely because every afternoon, or almost, he would go for lunch or a long walk and would end up in a movie hall, all by himself.  There was no movie he didn’t see. It was the idea of slipping into a dark theatre and watching the moving picture that excited him.

***

MARIO, BY UNNY

E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express, has a page one anchor:

To call Mario a cartoonist would be like seeing no more than the elegant living room he entertained you from, through a long warm Goan evening. “Take a break and be my guest,” he said. “Come and sketch the whole of this house. Should take a week or so if I keep a close eye on you to make sure you don’t run off to do the day’s cartoon.”

***

Ditto the cartoonist Manjul in DNA:

“Mario was the one and only ‘celebrity’ Indian cartoonist. He endorsed a reputed clothing brand in TV & print commercials in the 1980s. In 1979, Basu Chatterjee, director of the Hindi film Baaton Baaton Mein, based the looks of the hero, a reel-life cartoonist played by Amol Palekar, on Mario.

One can see his house in Shyam Benegal’s film Trikaal. Benegal shot the film in and around Mario’s house in Goa, a heritage building known for its Portuguese past and architecture. And no one can forget the iconic visual of a Sardarji sitting inside a bulb with books, which has graced Khushwant Singh’s column in almost every Indian newspaper for many years.

***

Ajit Ninan in The Times of India:

“We grew up in a time when all things worthy of awe or admiration came in pairs – Tata-Birla, Ambassador-Fiat, Coke-Pepsi, and so on. In the world of cartooning, Laxman-Mario was such a pair. All my lines I have learnt from studying the two titans of those times.

“Just as Bollywood brought India to the world, Mario brought Bombay to India. His mastery of architecture and of fashion trends was one of the keys to this. Mario’s ornate illustrations of the colonial structures of Mumbai wouldn’t have been possible for anyone with a weaker grasp of architecture.”

***

The cartoonist Jayanto Banerjee pays an illustrated tribute in the Hindustan Times:

As does the cartoonist Jayachandran Nanu in Mint:

***

Deccan Herald has an editorial:

With Mario Miranda’s death, the country has lost an eye that looked at it with understanding, compassion and irony for many decades and saw what was most often unseen and lost to most of us…. Everything was grist to his mocking eye and subtle lines—politics, society, business, attitudes, fashions and all that was part of life. His world was peopled with things and characters everyone recognised and lived with. The world he created out of them became the obverse one familiar to us and helped us to look at our own world with greater comprehension.

***

Austin Coutinho in Mid-Day:

Back in the ’60s, for me, Mario Miranda was ‘God’! I would lie in bed, incapacitated by asthma – wondering where my next breath would come from – and live in the make believe world of Mario’s cartoons. There was this little book titled ‘Goa with Love’ in which he had drawn cartoons of village life in Goa. The book would be by my bedside and it was as if I knew each of those characters on a first name basis…. My greatest regret in life will be not having ever met the ‘God’ of my schooldays. May his noble soul rest in peace!

Cartoons: courtesyThe Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Mint

Also read: Has R.K. Laxman drawn his last cartoon?

Making all of us smile can make one of us cry

Look who inspired R.K. Laxman‘s common man!

EXCLUSIVE: The unpublished doodles of R.K. Laxman

The 25-paise mag where R.K. Laxman began

The grass is always greener on the other side

Former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown:

“Young journalists [should] go work in India. There are so many great newspapers in India. I go quite a lot, actually. It has a very vibrant newspaper and magazine culture. There’s a lot of energy in Delhi, a lot of newsmagazines. It’s a very literary culture, it’s great.”

Illustration: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Read the full article: Young journalists should go work in India

Also read: ‘Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark

‘I would redesign the New Yorker

If a report isn’t ‘wrong’, surely it must be ‘right’?

unny

The threat of war between India and China has still not receded but the battle between unnamed home ministry sources continues relentlessly.

Caught in the crossfire: journalists.

First, The Hindu reported, quoting unnamed home ministry sources, that the government was contemplating filing a first information report against two journalists of The Times of India for a “wrong” report on two Indian soldiers being injured in firing by the Chinese in Sikkim.

Then, The Indian Express gleefully repeated the claim, again quoting unnamed home ministry sources.

Now, Press Trust of India reports, quoting unnamed home ministry sources, that “top officials” of the government has decided to “let it go”.

Questions: Has the Indian government seen the writing on the wall and climbed down? Or, was there no such attempt to file a complaint in the first place? If the FIR against the “wrong” report is not being filed, are we to conclude that the report was “right”?

Which means, were Indian soldiers injured in Chinese firing?

Which means, is the situation on “the longest disputed border in the world” far from normal?

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Also read: Censorship in the name of the ‘national interest’?

Because your TV cannot devote a full 23 minutes

Lifetime awards for a lifetime of funny lines

KPN photo

Seven veteran Indian cartoonists were honoured with lifetime achievement awards by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists in Bangalore on Monday.

In the front row are the cartoonists (from left): E.P. Unny (The Indian Express), Vasant Sarvate (Lalit), Madhan (Ananda Vikatan and Junior Vikatan), Kaak (Hindustan), Thomas alias Toms (Malayala Manorama), Prabhakar Raobail and T. Venkat Rao.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News