‘Common man’ cartoonist Laxman dies at 93
Times of India cartoonist R K Laxman has died of multiple organ failure at the age of 93, after being ill for two weeks.
His bald and bespectacled Common Man was a silent spectator in daily single-panel cartoons that regaled millions of readers of The Times of India newspaper, helping Laxman to comment on a variety of issues plaguing post-independence India, from corrupt politicians to street potholes.
“India will miss you, RK Laxman. We are grateful to you for adding the much-needed humour in our lives and always bringing smiles on our faces,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an English-language statement.
Born in Mysore in 1921, Laxman was the youngest of six brothers who included R K Narayan, one of India’s most renowned writers. Laxman had no formal training in cartooning. He began by drawing for local papers, and illustrated many of the stories of his while still at college.
After stints at various publications and even a film studio after his graduation, he went to Mumbai in the 1940s. After a brief spell at the Free Press Journal, he joined the Times of India group in 1947 and stayed for the rest of his career.
Laxman’s Common Man character, often described as holding up a mirror to India’s democracy, spawned a television sitcom, was the mascot for an airline and featured on a postage stamp.
Laxman’s fan base ran into millions. He never let them down, drawing two cartoons a day. His Common Man, created in 1957, was the symbol of India’s ordinary people, their trials and tribulations, their little joys and sorrows, and the mess they found themselves in thanks to the political class and bureaucracy.
He received numerous awards, among them India’s second-highest civilian honour the Padma Vibhushan, and the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Laxman is survived by wife Kamala, a writer, son Srinivas, a retired journalist, and daughter-in-law Usha.
A state funeral was accorded to Laxman by Maharashtra state in Pune.