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Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Laxman or R K Laxman, The Common Man, was born on this day – the 24th October, 1921. He was born in the Mysuru city of Karnataka and he died on 26 January 2015. This is his first birthday with only his memories left with us.
And this post is a tribute to, not him, but his brilliant creation – The Common Man!
R K Laxman, was a great Cartoonist and Illustrator. He was most known for his creation of The Common Man character and the daily sketch that published in The Times of India – ‘You Said It’. Though he had started his career as a freelance cartoonist, also did some part time work with The Hindu.
A cartoonist enjoys not a great man but a ridiculous man ~ R K Laxman
R K Laxman was a true Common Man in the sense that he did not have a great early age and had to go through a few hiccups. He lost his father quite early, but being the youngest among 6 brothers, he didn’t have to bear much the responsibilities of running the family. He was studying in school at that time.
Laxman’s talent was not hidden for long. He used to draw illustrations of common things which he used to see around himself, outside his window, etc. He was even praised by his teachers and that made him think of himself as an artist-in-making.
After his studies, R K Laxman had applied for JJ School of Arts in Mumbai but was rejected. The reason given for his rejection was – “the kind of talent to qualify for enrollment in our institution as a student“. Finally he did his graduation in Arts from University of Mysore.
The most known creation by R K Laxman is The Common Man – a character which was a true representation of the real common man. When I look back, I can recall how eagerly I used to wait for the newspaper to read his view on the latest in India – and I, sort of, could see the whole story from his eyes! It was that real.
Frankly, our politics is so sad that if I had not been a cartoonist, I would have committed suicide. ~ R K Laxman
Most of his famous work was around political illustrations. Laxman had created caricatures of almost all the politicians and I don’t remember if ever I heard about any politician getting offended by Laxman’s work on them. He was that welcome.
Do yo remember Gattu? Ok, if you don’t remember, let me help you refresh your memories. Watch this image:
Does this image reminds you of anything? Yes, you guessed it right. This is the famous mascot used by Asian Paints that company used in the early 90s. This mascot was designed by R K Laxman for Asian Paints. Even the tele-serial ‘Malgudi Days‘ had adopted certain characters from Laxman’s work. Malgudi Days was written by R K Narayan, elder brother of Laxman’s.
Every one of my drawings is my favorite ~ R K Laxman
The greatest reward Laxman earned for his work was his popularity, the acceptance that used to get from the same people he used to depict in his cartoons, the connection that he could make with the common man with his work. Additionally, he was also felicitated by awarded:
- Padma Bhushan (1973)
- Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts (1984)
- Honorary Doctorate from the University of Mysore (2004)
- Padma Vibhushan (2005)
- Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism – CNN IBN TV18 (2008)
- Pune Pandit Award (Scholar of Pune Award) by the Art & Music Foundation for excellence in ‘Creative Communication’ (2012)
R K Laxman’s health started deteriorating from 2003, when he suffered a stroke. This left paralyzed from his left body. Then second phase of ill-health came in 2010 and then in 2015, he was hospitalized with Infection in Urinal Tract. He could not survive this and died, co-incidentally, on 26th January, 2015.
PS: Most pieces of information in this article have been picked up from Wikipedia.
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