‘Marmik’, the magazine that launched a political party turns 60, and the lines are clear in India’s first family of cartoonists: the Thackerays

Marmik, the Marathi illustrated weekly that was the springboard for cartoonist Bal Thackeray‘s political launch, is celebrating its diamond jubilee with a 64-page special issue carrying tributes from a host of contemporary cartoonists.

The weekly, christened by Bal Thackeray’s father Prabodhankar, was launched in 1960 shortly after Thackeray Jr had left the Free Press Journal in Bombay, where he was a colleague of R.K. Laxman who had joined The Times of India as cartoonist.

The inaugural issue of Marmik had a message from the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru (above).

Six years later, in 1966, Shiv Sena was born. One view is that the Sena’s shrill anti-South Indian rhetoric was shaped in the newsroom and canteen of FPJ where from editor S.Sadanand downwards, the staff was stuffed with “Madrasis”.

Both Laxman and Thackeray (above) were deeply influenced by the British cartoonist David Low, whose brush work can be seen in the lines of both.

Bal Thackeray’s brother Sreekant Thackeray used to be an assistant editor at Marmik. Sreekant’s son Raj Thackeray is an equally brilliant cartoonist.

Some cartoonists believe Sreekant was the more elegant linesman, while Bal and Raj were stronger and more blunt.

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Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thckeray has a piece in the 60th anniversary issue of Marmik, but there is no space for Raj, who is very much the torchbearer of the cartooning art in the family.

The cartoonist Satish Acharya tweeted an image of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray which he drew for the Marmik special issue but was not carried.

The freelance cartoonist Alok pays this brilliant tribute.

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The 60th anniversary issue of Marmik carries some previous covers, all of which have Bal Thackeray’s name on the cover as editor.

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And there are some fabulous cartoons from the past too.

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Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi is listed as Marmik “editor”, just as she is the “editor” of the Sena mouthpiece, Saamna.

Raj’s deceased father is also listed in the 2020 masthead.

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Also read: Raj Thackeray

Screenshots: courtesy Marmik

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