Friday, December 28, 2007

Cartoonist Laxman's common man turns fifty

Although cartoonist R.K. Laxman describes his "Indian Common Man" as timeless and immortal, it was in 1958 that he created the simple yet thoughtful cartoon character, who continues to enthral generations of readers.
Wednesday evening, when his common man turned fifty, saw Laxman with former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam commemorate the eight-feet-tall statue that adorns the Symbiosis Vishwabhawan Auditorium here.
The statue of the common man, was unveiled by then president K.R. Narayanan on Dec 19, 2001.
On the 50th birthday the cartoonist, who is recovering from paralysis, chose to express his sentiments through his pen.
Laxman held the audience spellbound as he demonstrated his usual flair, when he drew a caricature of the common man praying to Lord Ganesha.
His wife Kamla and Abdul Kalam were at his side.
Speaking to media, Laxman said creating the common man was a tough job.
A Punjabi is different from a south Indian. A Bengali is different from a Bihari. The only common feature among different "common men" in India was their muteness despite being in the majority, Laxman said.
The common man that he created received enormous love and respect. It became a brand at airports, aeroplanes and drawing rooms. It flowed out of his hands smoothly but not easily, he said.
Initially, he caricatured different types of Indian men and the "common man" was born out of a long process of elimination. He will never cease to be. The indestructibility of the common man is in itself a great Indian value, Laxman pointed out.