Cartoonist pays tribute to literary giants through caricatures

Cartoonist pays tribute to literary giants through caricatures

Cartoonist pays tribute to literary giants through caricatures
An exhibition bringing together cartoonists and litterateurs was inaugurated on Saturday at the Indian Cartoon Gallery. ‘Jnanpith Awardees in Caricatures’ by Ahmedabad-based cartoonist Nirmish Thaker showcases all 56 writers who received the literary award presented by Bharatiya Jnanpith.

From the first recipient, Malayalam author G Sankara Kurup to the most recent awardee Raghuveer Chaudhari, each one has been immortalised in ink. Kannada writer Chandrashekhara Kambara who received the Jnanpith in 2010, was delighted to see his caricature and appreciated Thaker for his talent.

With large heads and thin, tiny bodies, Thaker has highlighted the facial features of the writers. In most pictures, they are shown holding pens larger than themselves. Explaining the reasoning behind this, Thaker said, “For a writer, the pen is his mightiest tool.”

Raghuveer Chaudhari is shown wielding his pen like a sword because “he is very out-spoken and bold” while Kashmiri author Rehman Rahi is shown using a pen to row a boat, mimicking the all-familiar sight of shikaras in Jammu and Kashmir.

Incorporating the cultural background of each writer was not easy. “The writers are from all over the country and in many cases, my knowledge of them was limited. In such cases, I had to rely on photographs to understand the characteristics of their appearance,” Thaker said.

Girish Karnad can be seen holding a large pen with a mask dangling from one hand and a camera next to him to show that besides being a writer, he is also a theatre artiste and filmmaker.

The cartoonist’s long association with Jnanpith awardees started with a simple sketch. “I used to watch a show on Doordarshan in which famous personalities were interviewed. The interviews only lasted three minutes. So I challenged myself to sketch them within that time.”

On one occasion, he caricatured Ravindra Kalia, editor of Naya Gyanodaya, a literary monthly published by Bharatiya Jnanpith and sent the sketch to him along with a letter describing how he drew it.

Impressed by his dexterity, Kalia decided that instead of publishing photographs of the author along with their articles, the magazine would carry caricatures drawn by Thaker. Breaking away from tradition, Bharatiya Jnanpith which only publishes works of literature, has even published a book of Thaker’s cartoons of the Jnanpith awardees.
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