Well-known cartoonist Satish Acharya has just published a book of his work on the 2014 elections. Perhaps the only effort of its kind, it also the first book for the cartoonist with a cult following---his Facebook page alone has close to 7,000 followers.
Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal, figure prominently in the book, inspiring the title Mein, Hum and Aap.
Satish told City Express: “This book is accidental. I had been thinking of a book of cartoons, but hadn’t planned anything.” The campaign styles of leaders like Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal inspired him to draw fresh cartoons. City Express presents a preview from the book (priced at `200 and available directly from the author), and an interview with the MBA who gave up a career in advertising to become a cartoonist.
Why did you give up your marketing and cricket career?
I did my MBA for the job prospects. Though cartooning was always my passion, I was afraid it wouldn’t feed me. Only after going to Mumbai did I realise cartooning could get me a job. In the early ‘90s, making a career in cricket was tough, especially for someone from a small town.
I was fascinated by the language of films and wanted to make films. Now I direct my own stories through cartoons.
That’s a question I have asked myself a hundred times. I don’t have a convincing answer. A couple of publishers could have taken the book. But since I live in Kundapura (coastal Karnataka), it was difficult to meet and co-ordinate with them. I wanted to release the book before the elections because of the focus of the book. So I thought doing it myself was the quickest way.
Which cartoonists, humorists and writers inspire you?
My Dronacharyas are R K Laxman and Mario Miranda. I love Laxman’s cartoons for his perfect drawing skills and Mario’s cartoons for the stylization. But I have also learnt a lot from the cartoons of Ajit Ninan, Keshav, Sudhir Tailang, Panju Ganguli, P Muhamad, Prakash Shetty and others. In the real world, I admire people who take the less-travelled road, people who could have made loads of money but chose to become journalists, writers, musicians, and social workers. They inspire me every day.
Tell us about your career.
I started as a client-servicing executive in an advertising agency in Mumbai in 1994, but spent more time in the art department. While doing 9 to 5 jobs, I continued cartooning as a freelancer. I also tried to get a cartoon column in a newspaper. It took me ten years before I got a break at Mid Day in Mumbai. I now I contribute to ESPN Cricinfo, Sify, Sports Illustrated, Metro India, City Today, Lokmat, and Bollywood Hungama.
What subjects do you enjoy most?
I have always been a great fan of cricket. Finding a cartoon idea in cricket is tough. I also like doing cartoons on movies and actors. I admit politics gives me the best opportunities to draw funny cartoons.
What are the challenges a cartoonist faces? What challenges have you faced, in particular? How do famous people react to your cartoons?
Professionally, staying unbiased is a huge challenge especially now when people try to influence and manipulate you. Another challenge is social media: it floods us with jokes.
It’s always a challenge not to repeat someone else’s joke or idea. Subjects hardly react to cartoons. There are some who get offended, mostly chamchas of political leaders. People like Raj Thackeray make it a point to call me when they have something to share about a cartoon or caricature. Some cricketers and film stars don’t hesitate to retweet a cartoon about them.
You are teaching youngsters by conducting camps. What advice would you give them?
It’s not easy to become a professional cartoonist and break into a newspaper. But cartoonists can look at opportunities that websites provide. Social media can help in showcasing talent and hunting for clients.
Where can readers buy your book?
I haven’t tied up with any book distribution network, so I’m selling it online through Facebook, Twitter and my blog.
(To reach Satish Acharya mail email@example.com)