CHENNAI: Ever seen a caricature sketched in under 10 minutes? The mood at a special tribute to cartoonist R K Laxman was anything but sombre on Sunday, as contemporaries in the field took turns at the drawing board, amid much pomp and cheer. Laxman, who passed away last year on January 26, was celebrated with an open workshop for cartoonists and enthusiasts in the city that was helmed by popular illustrators and cartoonists including 94-year-old Sankar of Chandamama fame.
The event that was held at the Tamil Nadu Foundation Gallery in Kilpauk was attended by everyone including students from various schools and colleges, and also by a rather impassioned retired bank officer. “There’s never been a forum like this before to interact with illustrators, caricature artists and cartoonists all in one place,” says Ramki, a cartoonist and one of the organisers of the event.
Fellow organiser M R Rajamaran adds, “We expected about 30 people to show up, so we were overwhelmed when 70 people across age groups made it to the workshop.”
The event was promoted only on social media. To honour R K Laxman, a hero for most men on the dais, there was a ceremonious flowering of his portrait. This was followed by a few words about him from his nephew, S Venkatraman, who said: “My uncle was also a big techno geek. Back in the 60s and 70s, he would take a toaster or a model electronic train apart — and then we would both try to put it together again to create something new.”
Between live demos of caricatures drawn both by hand and digitally, among much cheering from the audience, there was also a Q&A session. This covered everything from the kind of tools required for the profession to finding the right target audience for one’s work.
One youngster asked candidly, “No one wants to give their daughter in marriage to a cartoonist. Did you face similar problems back when you started?” After a few chuckles from the audience, Shyam, one of the panelists responded, “Don’t worry about that; girls love men who draw. You just focus on your passion and everything else will follow.”
The half-a-day workshop had generated quite a bit of excitement for amateur artists and cartoonists. “It’s going to be a monthly affair,” said Ramki. “The next event we’re planning will be exclusively for women.”