The Common Man bids adieu
The Common Man bids adieu

We say goodbye to RK Laxman, the man who became a part of our pop culture

R.K. Laxman, India’s well-loved political cartoonist, died on Monday at 93. Laxman’s daily cartoons in the Times of India were a staple for Indians for over six decades. His most famous cartoon, the Common Man, remains one the most recognised pop culture icons of the century. Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post quotes Ritu Khanduri while talking about Laxman’s worldview. “His cartoons were a snapshot of the most important event of the day. It summarized, without necessarily taking sides, what the burning issue was,” Khanduri says, an academic who has written at length on Laxman’s work. “We the reader also witness democracy in action, how the bureaucracy works, why democracy fails, what are the challenges for a developmental agenda for a new democracy.”


The social media exploded with images and tributes to the Grand old man of Indian caricatures, with fans and admirers sharing warm memories. Here are some snippets from an interview with R K Laxman a few years back, in which he talks about his life and beyond with MW.


“I often wonder whether it’s hereditary, or the way of our education system is or our upbringing, but we Indians lack a proper sense of humour. We are quick to laugh at others but are highly sensitive if the joke is on us.”



“My fondest memory even today is sitting by the market square near my home in Mysore and sketching all that I could see. The human mind tends to look at things, see things and perhaps make a mental note. I just used to draw it.”



“There are many things that can’t be taught. But cartooning falls into that category somewhat more than anything else. You are either born with it or you don’t have it.”



“The one thing that has seen me endure on for so long in this profession is that I get detached from my sketch the minute it is submitted. And I don’t look for or pay heed to reactions to my work.”



“I may seem like a brash man making a living out of poking fun at others. But I have always had my own sense of discretion. Today it seems fashionable to be disrespectful.”



“I think the new disease that modern society is struck with is copying—in all fields. There is nothing to stop anyone from doing so. But really, it won’t be your life, a life you will be satisfied with.”



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