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FUNNY MAN Mario Miranda
FUNNY MAN Mario Miranda

“Mario de Miranda” is proof of one man’s genius

His fine strokes have immortalised his ‘absurd vision’. His full frames shout with the life of Goa, Bombay, Paris and Tokyo. Meet cartoonist Mario Miranda. Age has not weathered his face but it has hobbled his walk. In fact, the youth in his eyes is startling — humour has indeed kept him refreshed. This 1926-born artist is now out with his latest book, Mario de Miranda, published by Art India (Architecture Autonomous).

The book is an exhaustive archive of around 8000 scanned drawings. Collected over a period of three years it provides a chronology of Miranda’s work. It illustrates the changes from his early diary sketches to his vast murals. But it also provides testimonies by intellectuals like Ranjit Hoskote and Nissim Ezekiel, transforming the biography into a quasi tribute. Ezekiel writes, “His cartoons don’t denounce or analyse. To his intensely individual vision, life is funny that is all.”

Vinod Mehta, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook Group, recently released the book. The gathering might have been small but the admiration for the cartoonist was undiluted, with Mehta anointing this Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri recipient a “national treasure”. The compliment is testimony to the rich detailing and discreet secrets of his works. The more closely you look at his paintings, the more worlds slowly reveal themselves.

Miranda said “Give up cartooning. And take up another profession. Good humour is dead.” Why the cynicism? “I’m not being cynical. It’s a fact. Real humour used to exist. It’s never going to come back. There is just a colossal decadence.” While believing that a cartoonist requires an acute power of observation, a sense of humour, patience and the time to read, Miranda doesn’t see himself as a cartoonist.

NANDINI NAIR

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