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50 years of independence through the eyes of…

50 years of independence through the eyes of R.K. Laxman

by R. K. Laxman

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We have a national treasure. Its status is indisputable, its authenticity unquestionable; it doesn't lie neglected in some forgotten storehouse, and it is beyond vandalising. It unfailingly brings a smile to over a million readers every day. That treasure is the art of R K Laxman, arguably India's best cartoonist and among the world's reputed.
If a photograph speaks a thousand words, even more remarkable is the eloquent economy of a few masterful strokes. And, in no hands are the strokes more articulate, more acerbic than in those of Laxman. His daily cartoon, ""You Said It"", is pocket-sized, but the point it makes punctures all the pomposity of those who think they command the earth.
Laxman's ""Common Man"" has overturned the definition of ""common"". He is an icon who, in his homespun dhoti and patched coat, has assuredly taken his place beside the country's greatest and most gloried. The ""Common Man"" has never said a word in his 40 years of existence - he leaves comment to his sharp-nosed, sharp-tongued wife. Yet, his perennially startled expression is the subtle coup de grace to the arrogance of power being deflated in that morning's cartoon.
Which is why we at The Times of India have treasured Laxman for the 50 years that we have had the privilege of having him. We have given him the space he needs. It is not the soundproof room or the protection from the many wanting to meet in person the man they've marveled at for decades. The space he has enjoyed is intellectual. No editor - and he's worked with the most celebrated of them - would dream of even suggesting to Laxman what he should lampoon, let alone what he shouldn't. There are many competitive edges that make The Times of India the second most highly circulated newspaper amongst general interest broadsheet dailies in the world. In this luminous cluster, Laxman is the centrepiece. We are proud that, for the past half century, he has made The Times of India his as much as we have made him ours.
  rajendran | Feb 28, 2007 |
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