Tuesday, January 27, 2015

R.K.Laxman as I knew him

The legendary cartoonist R.K.Laxman is no more. My mind  races back in time to 1978 when I had the privilege of spending three memorable days with him in Chennai.

I was the  Secretary of  the Tamilnadu Chapter of Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) in 1977-78.
Using my connection with his family I was instrumental in  organizing  a lecture-cum-demonstration by Laxman   at the Connemara Hotel. It was a joint meeting between PRSI and ISTD (Indian
Society for Training & Development)held in the third week of August,1978. In his typical tongue-in-cheek
style, Lakshman gave a talk and also demonstrated on a drawing board how he visualizes politicians.

In his mind, every politician is symbolized by an object which he draws out first and then converts it  into a cartoon, adding a few strokes from his creative pen. To draw the cartoon of Morarji Desai,
he first drew a flower pot and within a few seconds transformed it into a
cartoon of Morarjibhai. A water jug became Indira Gandhi. It was amazing and looked so simple.

During this visit he also participated in other meetings and media interviews all of which
I had co-ordinated. He was also kind enough to visit my humble home one evening for dinner. During the informal get-together I found him  very conscious of his celebrity status and was as sarcastic and humorous in person as he is in his cartoons. He also talked about the difference between being funny and humorous. He asserted that his cartoons were not funny but tried to be humorous.

At the airport, where I had gone to see him off, he asked me to look at him
and framed my figure  within  his four fingers. I was puzzled and wondered why he did that. A week later,  I had the answer in the form of a birthday gift I received by registered post - just two days before my 36th birthday on 30th August. It was a caricature of me with  amazing resemblance to his ever popular common man.. Though I was not as plumpy then, R.K. Laxman visualized what I would be like in future.. The cartoon showed me dressed in my favourite striped safari suit.  It  also captured the small line on my forehead, a reminder of an accident I had when I was six years old. Truly
a genius with fantastic memory and powers of observation.

It was a great honour to have a received a priceless gift from an all- time great cartoonist  The cartoon not only occupies a pride of place in my drawing room but also adorns the cover of my autobiography titled ` Courage My Companion`  described   as an `uncommon autobiography of a common man`.
Laxman`s common man?

May his soul rest in peace!

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  2. I have seen this R.K. Laxman portrayal of you in your place. I always used to stare at it and wonder how accurately it had captured you both in appearance and your personality the way I used to imagine you, the busy guy in a Safari suit! But didn't know the interesting story behind it. Thanks for sharing!