The 'creative genius': Facts you need to know about RK Laxman

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Mumbai, Jan 27: Iconic cartoonist RK Laxman, whose work ruled the pages of newspapers and the hearts of countrymen, was on Tuesday accorded a state funeral in Mumbai, as a teary-eyed nation joined in paying tribute to the man whose brush strokes put smile on everyman's face.

The legendary cartoonist, creator of the ubiquitous mute spectator 'Common Man' died on Monday evening, aged 94 after suffering multi-organ failure.

File photo

Some facts about the legendary cartoonist

  • RK Laxman, son of a school teacher --- Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman- was born in Mysore on October 24, 1921.
  • He was one of the seven siblings that included his elder brother eminent novelist RK Narayan. 
  • With a penchant for drawing since his school days, Laxman was engrossed by the illustrations in magazines such as "Punch", " Tit-Bits", " Strand" and " Bystander" and came under an early influence of world renowned British cartoonist Sir David Low.
  • The young Laxman completed high school education and sought admission to Mumbai's J J School of Arts. Ironically his application was rejected by the dean who remarked that his drawings "lacked the kind of talent required to qualify for enrolment in our institution as a student". 
  • Laxman subsequently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University of Mysore even as he continued with freelancing and contributed cartoons to " Blitz", " Swarajya" and an animated film based on the mythological character of "Narada".
  • While at the Maharaja's College of Mysore, Laxman started illustrating R K Narayan's short stories in 'The Hindu' and also drawing political cartoons for local newspapers and a Kannada magazine.
  • He took up his first full time job as a political cartoonist at Mumbai's Free Press Journal.
  • Laxman's legendary spell on the Indian newspaper reader was cast after joining the Times Of India (TOI). The comic strip "You said it" started in 1951, unleashing his iconic "common man", a silent witness to the shenanigans of politicians who were supposed to realise his dreams, hopes and aspirations but betrayed him on most occasions. 
Laxman's cartoon
  • Laxman has also written novels - Hotel Riviera and the Messenger--- published by Penguin and contributed distinctive illustrations to many works including the "Malgudi Days" stories penned by his brother R.K.Narayan. 
  • He created Asian Paints mascot 'Gattu'.
  • Television show, RK Laxman Ki Duniya, was based on Laxman's cartoons.
  • RK Laxman was the inspiration behind RK Narayan's stories Dodu the money maker and The Regal Cricket Club.
  • His autobiography in English "The Tunnel of Time' is translated into Marathi under title "Laxmanrekha". 
  • In 1985, Laxman became the first Indian cartoonist to exhibit in London, where he also had the opportunity to meet the idols of his childhood, David Low and Illingworth. 

Among the honours bestowed on the cartoonist are B.D.Goenka award-Indian Express, Durga Ratan Gold medal - Hindustan Times, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Magsaysay award in 1984 for Journalism, Literature and creative communication arts.

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