By:Dr. Aribam Ibomcha Sharma, IIS
New Editor and Head
Regional News Unit, AIR, Imphal
Introduction : Press Council of India is observing the National Press Day today, the 16th November, 2015 and is commemorating the day by holding a discussion on “The Impact and Import of Cartooning and Caricature as a Medium of Expression of Opinion”. This day will also be an occasion to remember the two legends in the field of cartoon and caricature of journalism in India – Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Laxan popularly known as RK Laxman and Rajinder Puri. Both of them breathed their lasts in this year. Both are remembered for their creative genius.
Two legends of Indian Cartoon – Laxman and Puri : RK Laxman (24 October, 1921-26 January, 2015) was an Indian cartoonist, illustrator and humorist. He was best known for his creation The Common Man and for his daily cartoon strip “You Said It” in The Times of India, which started in 1951 and continued for five decades. After Shankar (Kesava Shankara Pillai who is considered as the father of political cartooning in India), Laxman became a household name among cartoonists in the country.
In a leader article entitled Uncommon Man : Laxman Speaks For The Ordinary Citizen in the Times of India on 28 March, 2005 Rajinder Puri wrote “Laxman pandered to the common man. Inevitably he created his own Common Man. The character caught the public’s imagination and swept through the length and breadth of India to become a national icon. Laxman’ draughtsmanship was impeccable. His knowledge of anatomy, eye for detail while drawing background and dexterous brushwork rendered his draughtsmanship world-class. He was never a stylist. His work is founded or realism, no fancy abstractions. I suspect he was inspired in part by the legendary David Low. But low used fewer lines and less detail. That painstaking elimination of unnecessary detail gave Low’s work more simplicity and more strength.
It was Laxman’s pocket cartoon that made him and his Common Man national icons. There was a time when all the maddening everyday inconveniences caused by the city administration were caught brilliantly by Laxman to empathise with the ordinary citizen. Bombay learnt to wake up with morning tea and a rueful laugh over the Common Man’s travails. The Common Man became a habit. He is now an addiction. The Times of India can’t do without him”.
Rajinder Puri (20 September, 1934-16 February, 2015) was an Indian cartoonist, veteran columnist and political activist. He has associated with The Hindustan Times and The Statesman as a cartoonist and writer and also with the Outlook magazine. His unique creation was Common Leader.
On his demise , noted political cartoonist Ajit Ninan wrote in the Times of India “The sheer power of a cartoonist’s pen in plain black and white form is scary in the art of simplicity. Junior cartoonists were in awe of the mind and art Rajinder Prui generated. Senior cartoonists joked he wielded a dagger. That was him, the power of his mind, a combo of Vijayan, Abu, Ravi Shankar, RK and Shankar, so beautifully amalgamated into a synchronized punch. Prui’s mind was pure because he had the anti-establishment mindset years before AAP(Aam Aadmi Party), that was the power of his mind.
Cartoon and Caricature : Cartoons and caricature are a powerful means of expression in media. While employing humour, cartoons and caricatures make the readers reflect on issues which are grave and serious; they often convey what words cannot. A cartoon is a form of two-dimensional illustrated visual art. While the specific definition has changed over time, modern usage refers to a typically non-realistic/semi-realistic drawing or painting intended for satire, caricature or humor or to the artistic style of such works.
Generally, cartoons are seen either on the front page of the newspaper or the editorial page. An editorial cartoon is an illustration containing a commentary that usually relates to current events or personalities. Such cartoons typically combine artistic skill, hyperbole and satire in order to question authority and draw attention to corruption and other social problems. Political cartoons can usually be found on the editorial page of many newspapers. A pocket cartoon is a form of editorial cartoon which consists of a topical single-panel single-column drawing. It was introduced by Osbert Lancaster in 1939 at the Daily Express. A 2005 obituary by The Guardian of its pocket cartoonist David Austin said “Newspaper readers instinctively look to the pocket cartoon to reassure them that the disasters and afflictions besetting them each morning are not final. By taking a sideways look at the news and bringing out the absurd in it, the pocket cartoonist provides, if not exactly a silver lining, then at least a ray of hope.”
A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way. Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment. Caricatures of politicians are commonly used in editorial cartoons. (To be contd…..)