Humanity shone through his wry sketches: Alyque Padamsee

Legendary cartoonist R.K. Laxman expressed deep shock at the demise of fellow cartoonist and friend Mario Miranda. “Mario was one of our oldest friends and acquaintances in Mumbai. He was a great artist and his work will be remembered for long. He was able to recapture and recreate the mood and atmosphere of various places, be it Goa [where he lived] or a village in Karnataka. His drawings had a special quality, which is unmatched and inimitable. It is unbelievable that he is no more,” Mr. Laxman's son Srinivas Laxman quoted his father as saying.

The Laxmans expressed their “deep sympathies to Mr. Miranda's wife Habiba and his children.” One of Mr. Miranda's memorable murals is at Mumbai's well-known pub Cafe Mondegar at Colaba. Done in the 1990s, it captures life in Mumbai in vivid detail.

“He [Mario] wanted to depict Mumbai, tourists taking pictures, the Rajabai Tower, everything on one wall,” Hoshang Yazdegardi, managing partner of Cafe Mondegar told The Hindu over phone. His father Rusi Yazdegardi recalled his association with the artist, reminiscing how he created the artwork on the wall, but refused to sign his name. “I met Mario through the late Behram Contractor of [the tabloid] Afternoon. My architect wanted something on the walls and suggested Mario's name. Mario wanted to sketch in black and white, but I told him to put some colour. He listened to me, took interest. Boys and girls from the J.J School of Arts would come and do some work. Later, when it was completed in about six months, Mario would get his friends down to the cafe to show them his artwork. He charged me only half a lakh for it. I told him, ‘Why don't you sign it? Ek corner me Mario likh ke chale jao [Write Mario in a corner and be done with it].' But he did not sign,” recalled the senior Yazdegardi.

Having worked with Mr. Miranda in the field of advertising, theatre person and former ad man Alyque Padamsee spoke of the human factor in the cartoonist's work that shone through his wry sketches. “Mario was a dear friend of mine. We had worked on some ad projects in the 80s. Besides being an artist, Mario was a man of tremendous sincerity and joy and it showed in his work. His cartoons were funny, but there was a human side to them. He once did a cartoon of me. At first I thought he was making fun of me, but there were these little touches. He made funny things very human. His cartoons were not cruel. He was a genius. We shall miss him very dearly. I don't see cartoonists like him anymore,” he said.

“He was an artist who captured Mumbai with little touches. He was the equivalent of Behram Contractor of Afternoon, who was known as Busybee. Busybee and Mario were two sides of the same coin. They were remarkable men; funny yet sympathetic to the problems of life. Some artists are temperamental, but Mario was very easy to work with. And oh yes! Mario's parties! They were full of singing!” Mr. Padamsee said.

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