Fadnavis announces memorial for R.K. Laxman

Security officers carry the body of acclaimed Indian cartoonist R. K. Laxman past a statue of the Common Man, in Pune, India, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. Laxman, who created the innocuous character the 'Common Man' who held up a mirror to the absurdity and silliness of Indian politicians, died of multiple-organ failure Monday, his doctor said. Laxman's almost daily Common Man cartoon was a commentary on Indian society and politics that ran in the Times of India newspaper for more than five decades. (AP Photo/Nitin Lawate)   | Photo Credit: Nitin Lawate

Mourners converged upon the Symbiosis Institute in Pune to pay their last respects to cartoonist Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Iyer Laxman, known simply to millions as R.K. Laxman, who passed away on Republic Day aged 93.

The two-hour tribute ceremony to the iconic cartoonist was shot through with scenes of overwhelming poignancy as mourners keenly sensed that an epochal closure in Indian journalism had been wrought by Mr. Laxman’s passing.


In a fitting complement to the public mood, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was present on the occasion, announced a memorial for Mr. Laxman in a bid to keep his memory alive.


“His iconic creation  Common Man will live forever. He was much more than a mere caricaturist – a beacon whose cartoons instructed and educated governments,” said Mr. Fadnavis.


Young and old, commoners and notables paid homage to Mr. Laxman, whose body was fittingly kept on the institute premises near the eight-foot-high bronze memorial of the  Common Man which overlooked the proceedings.


Despite a formidable police deployment for enforcement of precision and order, the tide of admiration emanating from the sea of mourners could be stemmed only after it had spent itself out.


“It is a testament to his [Mr. Laxman’s] enduring appeal for 60 years that citizens of varied demographics, especially so many children, have turned up to pay homage,” said senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, a long-time friend of Mr. Laxman’s.


Mr. Padgaonkar reflected on Mr. Laxman’s sketching, remarking on how his cartoons were seasoned with mordant wit and a commoner’s gallows humour, but were balanced with sheer warmth that steered clear of overt controversy.


Novitiate caricaturists, journalists, citizens, schoolchildren were seen reminiscing and debating on Mr. Laxman’s prodigious output of cartoons, whose selection for preparing a ‘Best of Laxman’ volume often presented publishers with a choice nightmare.


Politicians - the great cartoonist’s most caricatured class - from both sides of Maharashtra’s political spectrum were in abundant attendance.


 “Mr. Laxman and my father [the late Bal Thackeray] were titans in the world of Indian cartoonists. An age has come to a close with Mr. Laxman’s passing away,” said Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.


Mr. Uddhav Thackeray’s cousin, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, himself a caricaturist was present on the occasion as well, so was former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan.


Never rigid in views and averse to ceremonial rigor, Mr. Laxman was accorded a State funeral at the Vaikunth crematorium here at 1: 30 in the afternoon where his last rites were performed.


He is survived by his wife, the authoress Kamala Laxman, son Srinivas, a retired journalist and daughter-in-law Usha.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2022 6:09:58 AM |

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