Satirising Indian politics

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Satirising Indian politics

Artfully chronicling three decades of the country's tumultuous political past, renowned cartoonist Sudhir Tailang’s solo exhibition ‘Here and Now (Rajiv to Modi),’ offers a unique look into the events that shaped the destiny of a nation, a glimpse unsparing in purview and biting in satire.

”All I wanted to do when I was younger was to be a gate keeper at cinema theatres. But now I have ended up as a cartoonist,” said the renowned cartoonist during the inauguration of his exhibition here recently.

“You are not a politician of any consequence if you are not in cartoons. It's a measurement of your stature in politics. When a politician stops appearing in cartoons, that's the beginning of the end of his political career,” he added.
Tailang, who in the recent past suffered from brain tumour has made a remarkable comeback from the surgery to the art gallery. 
“You can remove a tumour from my brain, but not the humour,” he quipped.From Rajiv Gandhi to Narendra Modi, the exhibition traces the fortunes of the Prime Ministers of the country in the backdrop of important happenings.

Caricatures of political figures like I K Gujral and Manmohan Singh, start off as sidekicks but slowly evolve into main subjects of the sketches.

Personalities cutting across the political spectrum including senior BJP veteran L K Advani, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, Left leader Sitaram Yechury and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, all of whom and who had one time or the other been the subject of Tailang’s scathing eye turned up at the inauguration of his show. 
The cartoonist demonstrated that he was as outspoken in real life as he was in his cartoons.

”My biggest victim has been Advaniji. I have depicted him in over a thousand cartoons, most of which have been critical. Mr Yechury has also appeared in my sketches several times. I have often said that his is the only leftist who is left,” he said.”It is only politicians who can laugh at themselves can be trusted and those who cannot do the same cannot be trusted to protect democratic ideals of the country,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that in a democracy we have politicians who throw people into jail for depicting them as cartoons. Then there was the time when the Parliament decided to ban not just a Shankar cartoon on B R Ambedkar in one text book but all cartoons, on all leaders, in all textbooks,” he said.

Tailang said he reveled in highlighting a topic close to his heart- the freedom of artistic expression.He has sketched an array of popular comic characters including Tintin, Donald Duck and Beetle Bailey holding placards proclaiming ‘laugh and let laugh’, which also finds its pl-ace in the ongoing exhibition.

Tailang recalled Narasimha Rao as the personality he enjoyed drawing the most.”Narasimha Rao was my favourite caricature. Initially my sketches did not resemble him, but with time he started resembling my sketches,” he told PTI.
BJP veteran LK Advani, who was present at the opening of the exhibition congratulated Tailang for his works. “I share a very close bond with Sudhir. I enjoy the way he has depicted me over the course of so many years. This exhibition is a great initiative on his part,” he said.
 Tailang, who was awarded the Padmashree in 2004, started cartooning in 1970.

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