It was rightly called Uthradapaachil. It was on the eve of Onam, Uthradam day, the ‘paachil' part is because Sajjive Balakrishnan was aiming at a marathon spot caricature session, from morning to evening, to enter the record books. (He completed 651 caricatures in 12 hours flat, caricaturing continuously) Thirdly, Sajjive speaks so fast that you have to be super alert to fathom what he means, part of the speed movement, perhaps. The Kerala Cartoon Academy, of which he is a member, organised this event.
On the Thrikkakara temple premises, where the event was on, the fun element was infectious. Here was a policeman, in full uniform, waving a caricature of himself and an elderly woman, waiting patiently for her turn, as Sajjive sat, marker pen in hand, following every turn of the face and every feature that could be highlighted. “I was blessed that day, as nothing went wrong. One wrong line and I would have had it. The whole caricature would have had to be redone, but everything went as planned,” said the caricaturist who has christened himself, Fatoonist, considering his girth and weight. (Keep guessing!)
The free caricaturing, done on first-come-first-served basis, was on thick matt finish cards, with the messages of the Income Tax Department, where Sajjive works, and information on the online presence of the Kerala Cartoon Academy. The materials were sponsored by the Income Tax Department. The oldest was apparently an 85-year-old woman and the youngest, a two month old infant, grandchild of cartoonist Yesudas.
Movie folks like Janardhanan, Ponnamma Babu, politicians like Babu MLA, and fellow cartoonists had their caricatures done, at the end of which Sajjive had used 25 marker pens (I gave some to kids, he clarifies) for the 651 caricatures. The first was of his son Siddharth's and the last, of his wife Lekha R.Nair's, a singer, who patiently waited the whole day beside him. All the while he did not eat, drank just three bottles of coconut water and no, he never visited the loo! Each caricature took just 66.35 seconds. He scored high marks in the resemblance factor too, according to onlookers, who should know best.
While 60 per cent of the subjects were men, 25 were women and 15 kids. “It is very tough to draw women, for they feel they don't look like their caricatures,” laughs Sajjive. Caricatures are great ego bashers, he adds, if hung in your home!
Imbibing the character of a person in the caricature is the hardest part, Sajjive feels. And that brings life to a caricature. He drew the whole body, not only the face of all 651 subjects. Doodling helped Sajjive hone his skills as a child, and his parents were most supportive. He won a few prizes at the Calicut University Youth Festival for cartooning and also the first John Abraham Award in cartooning (1988).
As the PRO in the IT Department at Kochi, the retirement mementos always have his digital caricatures. The native of Chalakkudy blogs at www.fatcartoonist.blogspot.com .