World of Mario

With Mario Miranda’s death, the country has lost an eye that looked at it with understanding, compassion and irony for many decades and saw what was most often unseen and lost to most of us.

Cartoonists are popular because they turn the world and life around and make us poke fun at ourselves, our words, actions and attitudes. It is something we would like to do in the privacy of our own minds but are unable or afraid to do in public. We like to believe that humour is the exclusive faculty of human beings and are proud of our ability to laugh, which we think is an acquisition through the evolutionary process.

We do not know if animals laugh at us for our certainty. Mario’s animals knew better and would disabuse us of our notion of superiority. It was also no accident that his world was peopled with children. He was able to reduce the world to the child’s innocent and elemental view of it.

Much of his life spanned independent India which has seen many eminent cartoonists at the best  of their creative and irreverent faculty at work, jolting us out of ourselves. He was among the best of them.

He was rooted deeply in the Goan milieu and culture in which he was born. But he grew into a national and universal  persona which appealed to every one. 

Everything was grist to his mocking eye and subtle lines—politics, society, business, attitudes, fashions and all that was part of life. His world was peopled with things and characters everyone recognised and lived with. The world he created out of them became the obverse one familiar to us and helped us to look at our own world with greater comprehension.

An artist always breaks the world into pieces and reassembles them to create a new whole which startles us. Cartoonists are basically artists who distort the world to present us with a more real  picture of it. Miranda willed his brush sometimes to exaggerate and other times to understate but always to make a telling commentary.

There was no prejudice or malice but only nudge to extract a spontaneous smile out of clipped lips.The big joy of life is in looking at us as strangers and relishing the experience. He helped us to do that.

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