The political life of Nehru, captivatingly captured by Shankar Pillai in his acerbic cartoons, are on exhibit at the Indian Cartoon Gallery

Amidst the current turbulent and disturbing political landscape in the country, who remembers the “controversial” cartoon featuring Nehru, Ambedkar and a snail?

This particular cartoon, among others, by cartoonist Shankar Pillai, of the famous Shankar’s Weekly,is on display at the Indian Cartoon Gallery. The exhibition features a large collection of Shankar’s much-loved cartoons of Jawaharlu Nehru.

The series traces the Prime Ministerial career of Nehru, capturing his ideas, decisions and moves, his position among his peers in a straightforward light-heartedness.

This is seen in cartoons such as the one where Nehru is depicted as a cook surrounded by the many boiling broths labelled as different Indian states, the UN, and countries like Tibet and Congo. The cartoon dated December 11, 1960 is titled “Too Many Broths Spoil The Cook”.

In another cartoon, Nehru is seen in the cockpit of a plane that is hitched to a bullock cart being ridden by the then Congress President Purushottam Das Tandon with Nehru’s quote in his report to the All-India Congress Committee at the bottom: “To move slowly is dangerous…To move fast might lead to conflicts.”

Another significant cartoon on display, the penultimate cartoon before Nehru’s death in 1964, shows an emaciated, exhausted Nehru running a lap holding a torch.

Trailing behind him are Lal Bahadur Shastri, Guzari Lal Nanda, Indira Gandhi, Krishna Menon and Morarji Desai.

The exhibition showcases Nehru’s role in the political and economic landscape in India, like his take on nuclear weapons, his election campaign, his role in the linguistic division of states, in the Panchsheel agreement, and in the cold war.

“I worked at the weekly for two years before it was closed in 1975. Both Nehru and Shankar were fond of each other. Shankar was the father of Indian cartooning and through his weekly, he created some of the most talented cartoonists in India. His cartoons were sarcastic, straightforward and picturesque and they say everything about the political developments,” says V.G. Narendra, Managing Trustee of the Indian Cartoon Gallery.

Shankar’s cartoons will be on display until January 12 at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, No.1, Midford House, Midford Garden, off M.G. Road, near Big Kids Kemp, Trinity Circle.

For details, call 41758540.