The artist, who died on November 18 at the age of 89, was a noted illustrator, successful entrepreneur and a nationalist

Changing careers when on a high seemed to have come naturally to the noted artist FA Razack, who died on November 18, aged 89.

He had excelled in line-drawing and there was a great demand for his work, but he abruptly chose to quit the profession and plunge into screen printing, which in 1970 was a fledgling technology in India and made a success of it too.

But he didn’t stop there, he ventured into photo lamination, again with gratifying results. In fact, he could be said to have pioneered the technology in the country. The flourishing Chennai-based United Lamination and Packaging Company is a monument to his innovative enterprise.

He, however, will always be remembered as an illustrator par excellence for those much cherished stories depicting the life and times of freedom fighters by S.A. Rahim, himself a noted participant in the struggle. “Razack followed a unique style of his own and his line drawings are amazing. The drawings invariably focussed on a subject from a long shot, avoiding close-up shots. Still they were etched in minute detail,” said artist Maniam Selvan, son of late Maniam, a contemporary of Razack in ‘Kalki’ magazine.

“Normally, an artist may not like to draw a long shot picture as it requires a lot of effort. But Razack would draw many such effortlessly,” said Selvan.

A famed illustrated children’s magazine Kannan showcased Razack’s talents. Mr. Selvan said Razack used to familiarise himself with the latest trends abroad by poring over foreign magazines like Life and his drawings were indeed the better for such relentless quest.

He had little time for conventions too. “At a time when many artists were reluctant to work for ‘Murasoli,’ the official organ of the DMK, he agreed to draw for the Pongal issue of the paper once,” recalled his son R.H. Kabir. He took up screen printing when he was the most sought after artist working for popular Tamil magazines such as ‘Kalaimagal,’ ‘Kumudham,’ ‘Swedesamitran,’ ‘Dinamani Kathir.’ He even wrote a book on screen printing and conducted classes for beginners.

For all the commercial successes he is remembered more for his nationalist angst.  “Indeed, the term nationalist Muslim is apt more in the case of Rahim-Razack combination than for any other person.  Rahim strongly believed that patriotism and commitment to development could be inculcated in the minds of children through stories of freedom fighters and great men. Razack complemented his efforts through his drawings,” said A. Gopanna, spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC).

“They wanted their books to be included in the curriculum, but it never happened in their lifetime.”

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