Search Results for “cartoon”

How ‘The Washington Post’ remembers Herblock, its legendary cartoonist, every Christmas

On its anniversary each February, the evening newspaper Star of Mysore prints the same editorial it has published on each of its previous 43 anniversaries.

Likewise, on Christmas, The Washington Post prints a cartoon by its legendary cartoonist Herb Block aka Herblock.

This cartoon was first printed in 1952.

‘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.


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.


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


And there are some fabulous cartoons from the past too.


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.


Also read: Raj Thackeray

Screenshots: courtesy Marmik

156 stories, eight editorials, and five cartoons over 15 days: how ‘Dainik Jagran’ kept up the constant Islamophobic dog-whistling on ‘Tabhlighi Jamaat’, as if India would be free from #Coronavirus if only…

The communalisation of the #Coronavirus pandemic in the media, just when the humanitarian crisis sparked by Narendra Modi‘s imposition of the 21-day “lockdown” with a 4-hour notice on March 25 was taking shape, is much too much of a coincidence.

As the sight and plight of thousands of migrants walking back home from the big cities once again showcased the inept planning that preceded such a major announcement a la demonetisation, #CoronaJihad became the “trending” hashtag from around March 28.



# On brain-dead TV “news” channels, “shows” titled Corona Jihad se desh bachao (save India from Corona jihad), and Dharm ke naam per jan leva adharm (threatening life in the name of religion, above), appeared with predictable venom.

# On April 3, Time magazine quoted a report by a digital human rights group that since March 28, tweets with the hashtag #CoronaJihad had appeared nearly 300,000 times and had potentially been seen by 165 million people on Twitter.

Overnight, the script for distracting attention from the migration crisis by communalising the pandemic seemed to have been magically readied.

Tablighi Jamaat, a religious missionary group, had held its annual meeting in Nizamuddin in Delhi from March 3-20. It was attended by delegates from across India and South East Asia. Some of them, it turned out, were carrying Coronavirus.

By imputation, many attendees carried the virus back home, spreading it to many more.

By inference, the Islamic event was the principal cause for the disease to spread in India.


“Almost 60 per cent of new Coronavirus cases linked to Tablighi Jamaat event,” was the headline of a sad, revealing graphic in India Today (above), with a tell-tale skull cap around the head of a mask-wearing figure.

Short hand for, Muslims did it.

But as an analysis by Shoaib Daniyal on the website Scroll showed, the higher discovery of Tabhlighi-related cases was only because of greater testing of Tabhlighi meeting attendees.

Then, again, the Jamaat meet was from March 3-20. Who can forget that historic PTI tweet of March 13, quoting an unnamed official, that there was no threat to India from #Coronavirus?


Whilst the role of television media and social media in mainstreaming such Islamophobia in the time of a pandemic is painfully obvious, how did newspapers fare in perpetuating it?

The Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, once the world’s largest read daily, with close ties to the sangh parivar, ran an incredible 171 stories and pieces with the words “Tabhlighi Jamaat’, ‘Jamaat’, ‘Jamaati’, ‘Markaz’, and ‘Nizamuddin’ in its headline over a 15-day period.

More than 10 reminders a day, on average, of the six key words.

A purely quantitative analysis of the headlines of the 171 stories and pieces in the Delhi edition of the newspaper from March 28 to April 11, shows those six key words appearing and re-appearing with remarkable regularity.

Broadly, this is the break up of the news stories.

49 single-column items

51 double-column stories

19 three-column stories

16 four-column stories

8 five-column stories

8 six-column stories

5 seven-column stories

In addition, in the same 15-day period, Dainik Jagran ran eight editorials on the Tabhlighi Jamaat topic, five editorial cartoons, and two opinion pieces. On one day, a whole page was devoted to the issue (in picture, below) with the headline ‘Virus ki jamaat’.


Many of the Jagran headlines are for, for sure, legitimate news stories which also appear in other newspapers, about the hunt for attendees, the number of patients and such. But some of the paper’s headlines, with the benefit of hindsight, are plain dog-whistling.

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The snide, insinuatory tone of some of the Jagran headlines (loosely translated) do not leave much for the imagination:

# Women who attended the meeting can spread the pandemic

# SIM cards purchased by Jamaat attendees in the name of Hindus 

# “Call for Jamaat patients to be housed in jails”

# Jamaatis distributed sweets on bus

# Jamaatis demand medicines, biryani, and fruits

# Tabhligi Jamaat had made Varanasi its “base camp”

# Nine foreigners hiding with 11 Jamaatis in mosques

# R&AW to help in tracing Tabhligis who went to Gujarat

# Pakistan too troubled by Tabhligi Jamaatis

# Support for Tabhligi Jamaat in JNU poster


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The headlines for the Jagran editorials range from Badi laparvahi (big negligence), to Gambhir laparvahi (serious negligence), to Deshghaati laparvahi (anti-national negligence).


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The Jagran editorial cartoons appearing on the editorial page and clearly dictated by in-house editorial demand, unabashedly confuses the requirements of legitimate journalism with the needs of ideological propaganda.



Not surprisingly, the sangh parivar’s relief efforts get prominent display. There are two stories on one page on a single day (above).

Among other sangh-friendly headlines is of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad demanding restrictions on Jamaat; another is of RSS leader Manmohan Vaidya warning of a high death toll and contamination by Tabhligi Jamaat attendees.



In the welter of words about the Tablighi Jamaat incident, there is nearly no effort made by Dainik Jagran that even remotely suggests that the newspaper knows anything called the other side of the story.

The four Muslim intellectuals it rounds up on the issue are unanimous in their condemnation of the Jamaat, facts notwithstanding.



Obviously, newspapers are enterprises run by human beings. Mistakes are made in the speed of things, especially at times like these, and a post-facto analysis of even the most thoughtful newspapers will reveal gaping holes and errors of judgement.

Equally, Dainik Jagran can make the claim that it was doing only what any good newspaper will do which is to “flood the zone”, as in cover all bases and leave no stone unturned, when an issue like Tabhlighi Jamaat crops up.

It can also say this is what its esteemed readers want.

But is it too much to expect anything that approximates to responsible coverage from an influential newspaper at whose 75th anniversary prime minister Narendra Modi was the chief guest (above)?

Is it too much to expect balanced journalism from a newspaper with wide circulation in the communal tinderbox, Uttar Pradesh? Whose former editor Narendra Mohan Gupta was a BJP MP? Whose current editor and managing director Sanjay Gupta was nominated director of Indian Institute of Management in Amritsar by the Modi regime?


Even if none of Dainik Jagran‘s 171 stories and pieces fail to explain its motivation, just one cartoon published on the paper’s edit page should convey whose cause the newspaper was espousing in l’affaire Tabhlighi.



Also read: Why Indian journalists need to read up on Article 51 (a) (h)

How Hindi newspapers lent legitimacy to Narendra Modi’s #9pm9minutes

How language newspaper owners “advised” Narendra Modi COVID

Hit and Muss, and the Muzzler: When one of India’s finest cartoonists, Raj Thackeray, rages against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, political campaigning touches a new ‘Low’

There has been plenty of weird stuff in General Elections 2019, but none weirder than the sight of a political leader whose party was not contesting, drawing bigger crowds than those who were sweating the good sweat.

Even more bizarre was the spectacle, and a spectacle it has been, of thousands falling over each other to hear in their own ears, from the dour-faced man, that they have been had, taken for a royal ride—fooled!—by a Mouth ka Saudagar‘ whom they might, perhaps, vote in again.


Raj Thackeray is without doubt Indian journalism’s big loss—a stand-out cartoonist far superior in his artistry than many earning their ‘zunka-bhakar’, ‘puttu-kadala’ or ‘macher-jhol’ in newspapers and magazines.

His illustrations bear a likeness to the great David Low who inspired his uncle, Bal Thackeray. His lines hit below the ‘lada’. But even his most acerbic caption might not capture the caricature he has sketched of Narendra Modi and his ‘pittooAmit Shah in town after Maharashtra town.

In the 20th century, when his delicate fingers hadn’t yet become synonymous with strong-arm tactics, there was a time when Raj Thackeray could have been mistaken for Chunky Pandey.

Not in the 21st; not after the ‘bhaiyyas’ in Mumbai discovered he ain’t.


Today, when he stands on stage, he looks like someone who has slipped out of his own cartoon. An antiquated steam engine (the symbol of his Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) forms the backdrop. Spectacles that were in the vogue in the 1970s. Those droopy eyes. That phlegmatic face. A ‘jubba’.

Uncle T could at least crack a joke, break into a smile, share a beer.

Nephew T can barely manage a smile.

But if you aren’t in love with Narendra Modi, as 69 per cent of India wasn’t in 2014, the three most affectionate words you could hear during the 2019 election campaign have been: ‘laav re video’ (Marathi for play the video).

That’s when Raj Thackeray’s massively open, offline lec-dem begins. And for over an hour and more, he keeps his audience engaged with photos, graphics, headlines and videos of the mountain of lies on which Modi stands. All played on giant LED screens, interspersed with barbs, jibes and impeccable logic.


“In my entire life, I haven’t seen such a liar-prime minister,” Thackeray thunders in his deep baritone. “A liar lying to each one—and about everything.”

There is some irony here, in that Thackeray, who was doing pious Modi ‘bhakti’ in 2014, is himself questioning the presiding deity (“I was misled by IAS-IPS officers,” he claims weakly. “If the man can change, so can I). But the bigger paradox is that someone who is very much a part of the Hindutva hit mob is now taking the moral high ground, lashing out at the lies and lynchings.

Notwithstanding that, it is gripping politics and the people are loving it.

‘Saam TV’, the Marathi channel owned by the ‘Sakal’ group, had the highest in TRPs between 8.30 and 9.30 pm when it showed the last rally live from Nashik.

At one level, Raj Thackeray is showcasing the art of speech-making when the meme is the message—fewer and fewer people attend political rallies these days because they are aired on electronic or social media; because the speeches are dry, formulaic and time-consuming; because the middle-class has better things to do on summer evenings.

Go to a Rahul Gandhi rally, for instance, and what you get is a torrent of bullet points, all very transactional. ‘Main aap ko NYAY dilavoonga,’ Gandhi says, blithely oblivious to the fact that half the country might not catch the pun hidden in the Hindi acronym for the Congress’s promise of a Rs 72,000 minimum income. In a Modi rally, as the 14th PM flails wildly at imaginary ghosts of the first and sixth, people walk out, muttering ‘Chowkidar Bore Hai’.

In Raj T’s, they come in thousands and stay glued. It’s information and entertainment, no strings attached.

At another level, what Raj Thackeray is doing is what every good newspaper, news channel and news journalist ought to be doing as a matter of course—using their bullshit-detectors to check Modi’s fantastic claims, holding his government to account, and reminding citizens of it—rather than acting as his sleeper cell, home-delivering incendiary, low-grade IEDs without context or filter.

It may not have been his intention, but Thackeray has shown that it isn’t enough for ‘netas’ to just speak in the new age, not enough to just “tell”—you need to “show”, and show it repeatedly. “Go home and watch it on YouTube,” Thackeray says of Kapil Sibal’s allegation that the PMO was involved a massive money-laundering scam during demonetisation, involving a R&AW officer of Maharashtrian origin.

And without beating around the bush of propriety, Thackeray has shown that with a little bit of ingenuity, BJP’s lung power can be easily met by one who goes lower.

How has Raj Thackeray, who is as much a businessman as politician, been able to pull it off, when most opposition politicians live in fear of IT and ED and CBI? It’s probably because MNS cadres can match the thuggishness of BJP bhakts, blow for blow. When a BJP supporter called Thackeray a ‘desh drohi’ on his Facebook page, MNS men landed up at his house to read out the rules. Message conveyed.

If your WhatsApp group has convinced you that Indian civilisation dawned only in 2014, you might as well believe that it is his own money that Thackeray has spent to hold these jamborees that cost a bomb. And you might as well believe that Thackeray’s objective is not to help Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party, and that he is merely looking at the assembly elections due in a few months’ time.

Since there are no buyers for modesty in a free-market economy, Raj Thackeray, the unapologetic parochialist, has convinced himself that he is performing the role towering Maharashtrian intellectuals like Pu. La. Deshpande and Durga Bhagwat did during the Emergency: contributing their mite to speak out against an oppressive authoritarian.

But if he dug deep, Raj Thackeray the cartoonist, might find a more apt parallel with David Low.

At the London ‘Evening Standard’, where he served for 23 years, Low did a special comic strip called ‘Hit and Muss’ before and during World War II, in which lampooned Hitler and Mussolini. When Lord Beaverbrook thought it too strong, the cartoonist, in the sacred cause for peace with the paper’s owner, created a new cartoon character, his own private dictator called “Muzzler”.

Thackeray doesn’t do nuance like Low. “Modi says he built 850,000 toilets in Bihar one week. That’s roughly 1.5 toilets per second. We can’t even go to toilet in that much time.”

The elections in Maharashtra and Raj Thackeray’s rallies are over. But with the last two phases of polling still pending in the heartland, the UP ‘bhaiyyas’ and Biharis who are due to vote might like to hear what their bugbear in Bombay has been saying about the ‘Pradhan Muzzler’, whose voice he says sounds like a Formala One car revving up—with the brake on.



“The Lok Sabha election is not a contest between political parties. It is a fight between Modi-Shah, and the country. Only when these two people are removed, will it be a proper contest between parties.”

“Let Rahul Gandhi become PM if he can. We experimented with Narendra Modi and look where we have landed. Let’s experiment with Rahul Gandhi, or anybody. It can’t be worse than this.”

“For 13 years when he was Gujarat’s chief minister we didn’t even know Narendra Modi’s mother was alive and around. Now he poses with her before every election.”

“All day Modi blames Pandit Nehru and still calls himself ‘pradhan sevak’. Do you know that it was Nehru coined the term ‘pradhan sevak’? You will find it in ‘Teen Murti Bhavan’. “

“How would Narendra Modi have used Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to spread their lies and fake news if Rajiv Gandhi hadn’t brought in computers?”

“Modi created the impression that he was ready to go to war with Pakistan after the Pulwama attack. But his government was so broke it was begging RBI for Rs 300,000 crore.”

“Modi says his life is in danger, his opponents are out to destroy him. The same man stands in front of the pictures of the 40 slain CRPF men and says the country is in safe hands. How can we believe this man?”

“Before he was elected, Modi said he would bring back black money and give out 5%-10% gift to the middle-class as a ‘gift’. And his own president admits that it was just an election ‘jumla.”

“If cows are being killed by beef-eaters, then who is giving the milk? If Modi’s own ‘Jain friends’ are in the beef export business, why didn’t he stop the lynchings in the name of cow slaughter? Why didn’t he speak up after Dalits were beaten up in Una?”


“When DeMo was being announced, he took away the phones of cabinet ministers so that they wouldn’t inform anybody. TV is gagged, newspapers are muffled. This is exactly Adolf Hitler did.”

“He doesn’t trust anybody. He doesn’t any institution. He doesn’t even attend Lok Sabha. That’s why BJP MPs are lined up in NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s house. Modi says whenever he is in a dilemma he calls up Pawar.”


“Modi pleaded for 50 days for DeMo to succeed. After that he said he was ready to face all consequences. 4.5 crore people have lost jobs. 50,000 families have been ruined by the suspension of Jet Airways alone. Now tell me the place where he should face the ‘consequences’.”

“Before he became PM, Modi was against Aadhaar saying it would allow terrorists to infiltrate. Now he proudly says 96% of the country’s population has Aadhaar.”


“14,000 farmers have committed suicide in Maharashtra, and Modi’s agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh has the temerity to suggest these farmers were addicted to drugs.”

“When our jawans fire at and kill a car driver for breaking through the barricades, Modi talks proudly of setting up a panel and suspending them.”

“Media freedom has been gagged. Modi not addressed a single press conference in his entire five-year term. If he won’t answer the media, how will he be answerable to you?”

“Modi wants first-time voters to vote in the name of the CRPF martyrs in Pulwama. But he says businessmen are more courageous than soldiers. Has he no shame?”

“Modi talks about the success of the ‘Ujwala’ LPG scheme. And then he talks about the ingenuity of a ‘chaiwala’ whom he saw putting a stove above a gutter to make tea.”

“Modi grandly talks of 120,000 wells being opened in Maharashtra. Has any journalist gone to check these claims?”

“‘Sui Daga’ and ‘Padman’ and ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ and many other films are basically government propaganda, just like Adolf Hitler did”

“People don’t have water to drink in the villages, he wants to start a bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad. What’s the hurry? To go and eat ‘dhokla’?”

“Modi and Shah are insulting Maharashtrian heroes like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar who were killed in the 26/11 siege of Bombay by putting up Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal.”

“Modi says nobody from the “Congress family” visited Bhagat Singh in jail. Which “Congress family”? Sardar Patel’s? Maulana Azad’s? Sarojini Naidu’s? No, the Nehru-Gandhi family. Nehru went to meet Bhagat Singh more than once. Indira Gandhi was 14. Rajiv, Sanjay, Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka were not even born at the time. So why does he talk of irrelevant things?”

Made in Sivakasi: How newspapers front-paged the announcement of general elections 2019 in a mad riot of colours, cartoons, graphics, boxes, numbers

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The dog’s meal that is Indian newspaper front pages, on big news days. Text, graphics, pictures, cartoons, photo-illustrations, boxes, highlights, numbers, colours, all in one right royal mess, with nothing to hold the eye.

Even on a such as this, the announcement of #GeneralElections2019, there were newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi), Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati), and Lokmat (Marathi) which could give their editors a full front page to play with.

On the flip side, most newspapers were thinner with the model code of conduct kicking in, and the obscene ad inventory of Narendra Modi and other min-Modis having run out.


Indian newspaper front pages have been compared to a thali, the all-inclusive meal.

Pictured below a Rs 1,500-per-thali from the ‘Ponnuswamy‘ restaurant in Chennai.

Compare and contrast!

Also read: 74 full-page advertisements in 3 English papers over 6 days





“Anybody can do an MBA. Not everybody can become a cartoonist”: the sage advice that turned Satish Acharya into a 24×7 cartoonist in the social media age



Although the Mysore-born R.K. Laxman is the best known of them all, it is Kerala that has produced more political cartoonists in the English language: P. Shankar Pillai, O.V. Vijayan, Abu Abraham, Kutty, Unny, Ravi Shankar, Ajit Ninan et al.

In recent years, Satish Acharya has joined his Kannadiga torch-bearer as a political cartoonist of promise, his works first adorning the Bombay afternoon paper, Mid-Day, and now a number of newspapers and websites across the country.

As India heads into general elections, Acharya has two new books of his cartoons during the last five years. Titled ‘Cartoon Sarkar!’ and ‘Hum and Them‘, the covers capture the challenges of cartooning in the time of social media.

The Bombay radiologist, quizzer and cartoonist, Hemant Morparia, has a foreword.

Acharya, 47, now based in Kundapur in coastal Karnataka, speaks of his art and craft ahead of the launch of the books.



Q: When and why did you feel like becoming a cartoonist? How did you start? 

Satish Acharya: During my school days, I was fascinated by the story-telling power of illustrations in Amar Chitra Katha books. Then the cartoons of R.K. Laxman and Mario Miranda which used to appear in The Illustrated Weekly of India attracted me. I started copying them religiously. Gradually I developed my own drawing style.

In college, I used to send pocket cartoons to Kannada periodicals like Taranga, Tushara and Sudha. After many failed attempts, my first cartoon was published in Taranga. I was paid Rs 25 for my effort!

I continued to contribute pocket cartoons to Kannada magazines and earn my pocket money during college days. But I never considered taking up cartooning as a profession. As I hailed from a lower middle-class family I knew that only a good job could change our financial situation and cartooning in Kannada didn’t hold any promise.

After completing B.Com., I did my MBA and started hunting for a job in Bangalore. During one of these interviews, the interviewer, after observing my keen interest in cartooning, told me, ‘Anybody can do MBA, but not everybody can become a cartoonist’. That line prompted me to look at cartooning seriously.

After failing to get any suitable job in Bangalore I moved to Mumbai. And it was in Mumbai that I realised that cartooning could be a profession. I started freelancing for some newspapers and magazines while working as a client servicing executive at an advertising agency. But I couldn’t focus properly on either of them. So, I had to take a tough decision to pick up cartooning as my profession. 

But it took me almost 10 years to get a break as a professional cartoonist. In 2003, I got a break at Mid-Day, as a graphic designer and illustrator. 

Aakar Patel was my editor. Basically I was doing graphics and illustrations, and making pages at Mid-Day. But my ambition was to become a cartoonist. I started doing small cartoons and sent them to Aakar and the newsdesk team. They started printing them along with readers’ letters. Luckily Aakar saw some potential in me as a cartoonist and offered a regular column in Mid-Day. 



Q: How do you go about creating a cartoon? What is the inspiration? Does the line come first or the cartoon? 

Satish Acharya: I call myself 24×7 cartoonist. Though the actual time spent in creating a cartoon is just 40 minutes to an hour or two, the hunt for ideas continue through the day. I keep reading news portals, scurrying through social media (especially Twitter) and pick the most interesting talking point of the day. Most times, a news development prompts a cartoon idea. Sometimes I feel strongly about an issue and start brainstorming. 

On most days, I draw around 2-3 cartoons. On some days ideas flow fluently and some days are hard. When there’s a good cartoon idea, it makes me restless till I complete the cartoon. It’s like labour pain!

News is always the inspiration. Some quote, some visual…anything can trigger a cartoon idea.

I used to draw with brush and ink when I started, then moved to pen and ink and later sketch pen/marker. Now I use Wacom Cintiq to draw cartoons directly on computer, though I still practice with freehand sketching. 

Most of my cartoons are now published on news portals, where I get more freedom and face less interference. Sify, One India, Star of Mysore, Newssting, Sportstar, Sports Illustrated, Udayavani etc are some of my clients.


Q: Who are your favourite characters? Who do you find easy to draw—and difficult? Is it easy drawing women for you?

Satish Acharya: Mostly the politicians who are always in news become regular characters in my cartoons. And you get used to them. Presently Modi, Rahul, Shah are my favourites. When you start with a new face, you struggle to simplify the face to fit into political cartoons. But gradually you succeed in creating your own stylised character sheet for different characters. 

I always found drawing Nitish Kumar little difficult. Every time I drew him, he appeared more like Vajpayee!

Drawing pretty faces is a little tough, so women are difficult until you draw lots of their sketches. But every face has a prominent feature which readers identify with and cartoonist latches on to it.

Q: What, to you, is the role of an editorial cartoonist in journalism? Whose works do you admire in India? 

Satish Acharya: A cartoonist’s comment is as important as the editor’s comment in a newspaper. If you take up any newspaper, you will find that the cartoonist delivers the most independent voice, consistently. An editor might be handicapped by the paper’s stand, but a cartoonist has no such obligation.

I’m a great fan of cartoonists like Sandeep Adhwaryu (The Times of India), Surendra (The Hindu), Dr Morparia (Mumbai Mirror), Manjul, P. Mohammad. Each of them is so distinctive and so consistent.

I’m regularly in touch with most of them, and they inspire me every day.

Q: Is it easy being a freelance cartoonist? What kind of pressure do editors impose on you? How do you react to criticism from readers and trolls? 

Satish Acharya: It’s tough being a freelance cartoonist. Though I have established my name in this profession, I still face uncertainty. Money-wise it takes some time to quote your own price. But the biggest problem is not getting paid. Some journalists promise you payment, but cheat later. As you don’t always start with a contract, they misuse the trust. 

Fortunately, I live in the small town of Kundapur (after relocating from Mumbai), so my needs are limited and I can survive even without some clients.

I must say, most of my clients give me enough freedom and mostly they don’t interfere. Though I’m open to debate and changes, there have been uncomfortable situations, where editors tried to modify my opinion and I resisted. Once I resist, I realise that my days are numbered. Most of the times, they end the association abruptly. 

Losing a client poses lots of challenges. You lose your precious time in finding another client and settling down with another client takes time.

I welcome criticism as it helps me get out of my comfort zone. But in the last five years, criticism has been replaced by whataboutery! They are getting abusive, personal and threatening. Initially these things shocked me. And the silence of audience was uncomfortable. But during the last three-and-a-half years I see that readers are standing with cartoonists to protest against trolls. Cartoonists are getting lots of support from readers on social media. It gives lots of hope, and fill you with courage.

Earlier I used to react to some of these trolls, but then I realised that they are doing a ‘job’ and I just need to focus on my job. So, I ignore most of them as if they don’t exist.

Since they work as a gang. Once they pick a target, they abuse, threaten, disrupt social media pages, try to instill self-doubt etc. Their intention is to stop you from creating your next cartoon. But I end up doing two more cartoons!


Screenshot 2019-02-07 15.19.22.png

Q: Why did you decide to do these books? 

Satish Acharya: In 2014, just before the elections, I published a book titled, ‘Mein, Hum & AAP’. That book was an attempt to chronicle the political developments leading to 2014 general elections. It was liked by many. That election was a crucial one, after Anna Hazare‘s movement.

I feel 2019 is going to be another crucial election for Indian democracy. I thought I must come up with a book to record this journey from 2014 till the elections. I ended up picking around 200 cartoons, so I had to go in for two books. 

On social media normally some readers judge a cartoonist looking at one cartoon. They don’t look at the body of works. A book of cartoons is an opportunity to showcase the different perspectives.

Q: What is your advice to a young person wanting to do cartoons for a career?

Satish Acharya: During my college days, I had sent a letter to R.K. Laxman briefing him about my passion for cartooning. I received a reply through his secretary. Laxman advised me to focus on studies. Later I realised the meaning of that advice. 

Being passionate about cartooning is good. But you need to support your passion with lots of hard work. Your education, your reading and your interests play a crucial role in your ideas. And for me, an idea is more important than the drawing part in a cartoon.

Work on your drawing skills, without worrying about the digital tools or software. But you should be open enough to build your opinion through lots of studies, reading and also through different perspectives. 


Cartoon Sarkar! published by Vibhinna Ideas; 104+4 pages; Rs 250

Hum and Them! published by Vibhinna Ideas; 104+4 pages; Rs. 250

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How Palghat gave birth to cartooning gharana


Palghat, or Palakkad, in Kerala is famous, as the former chief election commissioner T.N. Seshan once said, for “cooks, crooks, civil servants”.

And Carnatic musicians.

And cartoonists.

The landlocked town with exactly two landmarks has produced four top-class political cartoonists for New Delhi’s newspapers: P.K.S. Kutty, O.V. Vijayan, Ravi Shankar, and E.P. Unny.

In the Indian Express magazine supplement Eye, Unny writes about the common muse for cartoonists from the “Palghat gharana“:

“Warmer than the rest of Kerala, the beach-less Palakkad isn’t visibly touristy. Nature, however, made up by putting us in the big gap in the Western Ghats — a land port that facilitated much movement, including full-scale invasions.

“First, by the Sultans of Mysore and close on their heels, the British. Hyder Ali’s engineer built a fort here and the Brits a college. Between the two landmarks (there isn’t a third), the municipal town lay neatly bracketed.

“Our world was a low-rise sprawl in parenthesis. No scenic backwaters and stuff. True, we didn’t have to look far for paddy fields but the stretch never seemed quite as green as it turned out in photographs. We have a river as well, nudging the Tamil Brahmin settlement in Kalpathy but the poets have the first lien on it.

“Under such visually-deprived circumstances, you couldn’t doodle your way to a finer art than cartooning. Even as cartoonists go, the Palakkad gharana tended to be sparse. Kutty trained with Shankar, a master who crafted at length, but quickly switched to a workaday functional style.

“Vijayan betrayed no sense of place. His characters floated in a political space that turned increasingly sombre — against a broad dark backdrop, he created with a khadi cloth dipped in Indian ink. Acerbic wit delivered with a Gandhian flourish. Ravi Shankar, Vijayan’s nephew, has an eye for the minutiae, as yet unexplored.”

Image: courtesy CD and LP

Read the full article: The homecoming cartoonist

MUST READ: Shankar’s Weekly final editorial

When an editor draws a cartoon, it’s news


Indian print editors have done book reviews (Sham Lal, Times of India), film reviews (Vinod Mehta, Debonair), food reviews (Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times), music reviews (Chandan Mitra, TOI, Pioneer, The Sunday Observer; Sanjoy Narayan, Hindustan Times), elephant polo reviews (Suman Dubey, India Today) etc, but few have done cartoons.

When The Telegraph, Calcutta, was launched Pritish Nandy (who later became the editor of The Illustrated Weekly of India) would do a daily, front-page pocket cartoon, with Mukul Sharma (who later became the editor of Science Today) writing the caption, and vice-versa.

Even today, former Statesman and Indian Express editor S. Nihal Singh is a happy doodler.

In the latest issue of Open magazine, its editor Manu Joseph (who has set crossword puzzles at his previous port of calling, Outlook) puts his signature on a cartoon. Let the record show that “Pope” Joseph‘s handwriting bears a close similarity with Dr Hemant Morporia, the radiologist who draws cartoons.

Also read: If The Economist looks at Tamil News, it’s news

When a stringer beats up a reporter, it’s news

When the gang of four meets at IIC, it’s news

When a politician weds a journalist, it’s news

When a magazine editor marries a starlet, it’s news

When dog bites dog, it’s news—I

When dog bites dog, it’s news—II

How seven cartoonists drew one TOI cartoon


As part of its dodransbicentennial celebrations, The Times of India has published “a cavalcade of cartoons over 175 years”. Titled “Jest in Time“, it is put together by Ajit Ninan, Neelabh Banerjee and Jug Suraiya.

At its launch in New Delhi on Monday, seven well-known cartoonists—Sudhir Tailang from Deccan Chronicle, Manjul from Daily News and Analysis, Keshav from The Hindu, Jayanto from Hindustan Times and R. Prasad from Mail Today—joined hands to produce a cartoon (in picture, above) on the spot.

Saira Kurup reports on the jugal bandi:

“Keshav set the tone by drawing the new common man forced to tighten his belt in difficult times. Tailang followed with an illustration showing P.V. Narasimha Rao giving his ‘student’ PM Manmohan Singh a poor report card. Manjul’s version of the common man was one who doesn’t speak but tweets instead!

“Jayanta then drew the laughs by drawing a neta with a loudspeaker as his head “because netas are not doing what they are supposed to; they just keep shouting!” To audience applause, Ninan put the artwork in context by sketching Parliament, and Banerjee gave the final touch by showing the common man holding up the House on his shoulders.”

Image: courtesy The Times of India

How journalism helped a cartoonist as author

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Author and playwright Manjula Padmanabhan, who created Suki, a female cartoon character for the now-defunct Sunday Observer, has a new book out, Three Virgins and Other Stories.

In an interview in Mint, she is asked:

What effect has your life as a journalist had on your fiction?

My early training to be a journalist powerfully shaped the way I look at reality and then bend it towards an idea I want to follow. I know what it’s like to write a news story—presenting facts in a coherent and readable manner—but I far prefer to open up existing boxes of facts to speculations about their contents. Does that make sense? Being a journalist gave me the tools with which to write fiction more effectively (or so I imagine) than I felt I could write non-fiction.

Among the stories in Padmanabhan’s book is on a TV journalist “Basra Dott” who vows to fight for her cause before matters take a deadly turn.

Read the full interview:

And so, India’s three best cartoonists are…

It isn’t often that Indian cartoonists talk about their craft—or their colleagues and compatriots.

There is, for instance, a famous incident of the doyen of Indian cartooning, R.K. Laxman, being asked in the course of an interview with The Illustrated Weekly of India, about a younger cartoonist then working for the Indian Express.

Ravi Shankar? Fantastic sitarist,” was Laxman’s put-down, sotto voce.


Ajit Ninan, the former cartoonist of India Today and Outlook now a consultant with The Times of India, speaks about Laxman, in an interview in Star of Mysore:

Q: How would you differentiate yourself from R.K. Laxman?

A: I am a man of details and I think India is a country of details. Look at our architecture, the temples, fashion—everything has a lot of details. There is no school of cartooning and it is my seniors who helped me. I learnt by observing their works and have slept over their styles. Mario Miranda‘s details, Abu Abraham‘s simplicity of thought and Laxman’s works—something of everybody is there in my work.

However, Laxman’s cartoons had lengthy captions. I try to finish it within 10 words or even less. Almost 70% of my time goes into drafting captions.

When your drawing is so detailed, why burden it with words?

Q: Who would rank as the best Indian cartoonist?

A: R.K. Laxman—because he was a typical South Indian genius. He was a big crowd-puller and by nature he was funny, sharp and witty. Next is Mario because he brought out Indian architecture and humour, food, language, fashion through his drawings. He was a complete cartoonist and very versatile. The third would be Sudhir Tailang.

Image: courtesy Shafali

A good cartoon is like a raga. The trick is ‘riyaz’

Puthukodi Kottuthody Shankaran Kutty, known simply to the newspaper reading world as Kutty, one of India’s leading political cartoonists, has passed away in the United States at the age of 90.

Part of the legendary troika of cartoonists that comprised Shankar and Abu Abraham, Kutty’s work appeared first in the now-defunct National Herald and later in the Bengali daily Ananda Bazaar Patrika.

E.P. Unny, the chief political cartoonist of The Indian Express, pays tribute in today’s paper.



When two practitioners, generations apart, sit down to chat, a one-way flow of wisdom should naturally ensue. Among other things, this cartoonist defied this one too.

On that August morning in 1985 when I met him first, Kutty was at the INS building earlier than the place had woken up. “I come in by nine to drop my cartoon at the Ananda Bazar office and leave before the wise guys turn up,” were his opening remarks.

He had little use for peer inputs, “however wise or otherwise”. Before anyone else in the Capital, he had made up his mind on the day’s newsmakers and the verdict signed and sealed was ready for dispatch.

Quite apart from Abu, O.V.Vijayan and Rajinder Puri, the editorial cartoonists I grew up on, Kutty came with no thought balloon. This compact cartoonist just sat there freely chatting, waving his hands about and the cartoon seemed to emerge like a gestural extension.

Pen and paper were incidental to his art.

He would grab the most non-descript of writing instruments and sketch on anything short of the blotting sheet, waste newsprint to butter paper. The drawing looked amazingly finished, with all things cartoonish in place, including that inimitable impishness which marked his work.

Surely he couldn’t have so effortlessly done this 100-metre dash day after day for as long as M.F. Husain painted. In the many meetings that followed our first, Kutty did casually allude to his craft, in terms that hardly matched the everyday business of news cartooning.

“Things are easy once you master the face like a raga. Do riyaz.”

These venerable musical metaphors were however, in keeping with Kutty’s breeding. He was trained by Shankar in the only gurukul cartooning has seen — the Shankar’s Weekly.

Shankar ran a two-room office in Odeon Building in Connaught Place in Delhi like a true ustad. Far from mild-mannered, the master with his classical notions on pen and brush to perspective could have traumatised a lesser disciple.

Kutty played along as best as he could only to ever so furtively depart from the guru’s elaborate choreographed frames to a more functional mode.

Once India’s honeymoon with Swaraj was over, the emerging politics was being held together by satraps across the country and not always in consonance with Nehruvian norms. This called for more immediate random responses and true to his calling, Kutty was ready with a style that caught the political drift away from Delhi and across the regions. This stood him well when he eventually left English newspapers to embark on an incredible leap into the unknown.

In Ananda Bazar Patrika he went on to become the best known Bengali cartoonist. He had already done his riyaz on B.C. Sen, Atulya Ghosh and the two barristers who ran Bengal — Siddharth Shankar Ray and Jyoti Basu. Kutty knew his turf but the unknown part is awesome.

This Malayali, who knew no Bangla, wrote his terse captions in English for the news desk to translate into Bangla. From Bengal’s Bihari, Oriya immigrants to the rooted bhadralok, none noticed this historic sweep of the fragile news cartoon across three languages.

In an earlier stint with this paper from 1962 to 1969, Kutty did what all the greats in this profession do — anticipate a worthy successor. He prepared the Express reader for Abu Abraham’s elegant minimalism.

Text and cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

The newspaper cartoon that offended Christians

On Sunday, The Times of India carried this 8-column illustration by Neelabh to highlight the travails of R.K. Laxman‘s common man at a time of galloping food prices.

Titled “The Lost Supper” and bearing a likeness to Leonardo da Vinci‘s Last Supper, the illustration conveyed the helplessness of the aam admi at the hands of politicians.

On Wednesday, the paper carried the following apology.


An illustration resembling The Last Supper, which appeared in the Sunday edition of the paper, has hurt the sentiments of a number of our readers. We sincerely apologise for the anguish it has inadvertantly caused. This paper is truly respectful of all faiths. It is one of the cornerstones of our editorial philosophy.

Also read: Cartoon that’s offending Israelis

Cartoon that’s offending Aussies

External reading: The size of the serving at The Last Supper

Has R.K. Laxman drawn his last cartoon?

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: A question mark hangs over India’s most famous exclamation mark after a further slip in health of Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman, the iconic cartoonist of The Times of India.

The 86-year-old Laxman, who has drawn cartoons for ToI for 63 years, has been airlifted to Bombay, reportedly after suffering a “mild stroke”, and is receiving treatment at the Breach Candy hospital, family sources say.

(A report in The Times of India says he suffered three mini-strokes between Thursday and Saturday.)

Already a shadow of his former self after a first stroke seven years ago which affected his left hand, R.K. Laxman, as he is known to newspaper readers, was first admitted to the Sahyadri hospital in Poona, where he currently lives, but was airlifted to Bombay on Sunday evening.

(A PTI report in The Hindu says the three mild strokes have affected the right side of his body as also his speech.)

Mysore-born Laxman was last spotted at the engagement ceremony of his grand-niece in Bombay earlier this year.

Despite his first stroke, Laxman returned to draw the “You Said It!” pocket cartoon for The Times of India every morning, although the state of his health showed in the scraggly lines and often times in the cartoon being desultorily buried in the inside pages.

On days he doesn’t come up with a cartoon, ToI dips into its archives.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: Making all of us smile can make one of us cry

Look who inspired R.K. Laxman‘s common man!

External reading: The Ramon Magsaysay foundation citation

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending the Israelis

After a cartoon on the racist attacks on Indians got under the skin of Australia, Mail Today asked the Aussies whether they had lost their sense of humour.

Now, with Israel wailing about the paper’s depiction of the murderous commando action on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, surely the paper is entitled to ask if the Israelis have lost their sense of balance?

In the memorable words of Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan:

“You [Israel] killed 19-year-old Furkan Dogan [a US citizen of Turkish origin who was in the convoy] brutally. Which faith, which holy book can be an excuse for killing him?

“The sixth commandment says “thou shalt not kill”. Did you not understand? I’ll say again. I say in English “you shall not kill”. Did you still not understand? So I’ll say to you in your own language. I say in Hebrew ‘Lo Tirtzakh’.”

Or is Israel’s sense of victimhood a licence to act against the sixth commandment for eternity?

Also read: The Indian cartoon that’s offending Australians

The Indian cartoon that’s offending Australians

It takes a particular genius to feel offended by a piece of art instead of the reality it mirrors.

Several students of Indian origin have been clobbered in Australia in an unceasing (and unacceptable) wave of attacks over the last few months; one of them even being killed last week. Yet, the response from both countries is beyond comical; it’s tragic to the point of being farcical.

And for both countries, the media has become a convenient whipping boy.

Instead of telling the Aussies to “rack off, you bloody bonzers“, Indian foreign minister S.M. Krishna buffers up like a slow, dial-up modem, nods in agreement with what he is about to say, counsels Indian parents not to send their children for hair styling and facial courses, and cautions against “frenzied reporting”.

Australia instead of tightening security to reassure students, is happy to take truckloads of journalistson a junket to generate some good PR. Meanwhile, its acting prime minister, Julia Gillard, takes offence, not at the killing of a young man, but at this newspaper cartoon which she admits she hasn’t seen!

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Also read: L’affaire Mohammed Haneef

Bolo, Bharat mata ki jai. Bolo, it’s a work of art

Outlook cartoonist bags Maya Kamath award

KPN photo

Sandeep Adhwaryu, the chief illustrator of Outlook magazine, has bagged the first prize in the first “Maya Kamath Memorial Award for excellence in cartooning-2008”, organized by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bangalore.

This was the winning entry:


The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000.

The award is in memory of Maya Kamath, India’s only woman political cartoonist who did work for The Times of India and The Asian Age, before her untimely demise in 2001at the age of 50.

The second prize has gone to Ramadhyani of Naavika, a Kannada daily, and the third prize to Shankar of the multi-edition Telugu daily, Saakshi.

Muhammad Zahoor of The Daily, Peshwar, won a special jury award.

The entries for the awards were judged by the playwright Girish Karnad; the resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore, H.S. Balram; the artist S.G. Vasudev; and the chief political cartoonist of The Hindu, Keshav.

Visit the IIC website:

Photograph: Cartoonist V.G. Narendra (left) and Amarnath Kamath of Maya Kamath Memorial Trust announcing the prizes at a media conference in Bangalore on Wednesday (Karnataka Photo News)

Cartoon: courtesy Sandeep Adhwaryu/ Outlook

Maya Kamath Memorial Awards for Cartoonists

PRESS RELEASE: The Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Cartoonists is inviting applications for the first Maya Kamath memorial awards for cartoonists. There are four prizes on offer: three for the best political cartoons of 2008, and a special prize for the best budding cartoonist.

The contest is open to cartoonists in English and other regional Indian languages. A maximum of three published political cartoons appearing between January 1 and December 31, 2008 can be submitted by each participant. An English translation of the text should accompany if the cartoon has been published in a regional language, including date and name of the publication in which the cartoon had appeared.

Entries should be sent to the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, No.1, Midford House, Midford Garden, off M.G. Road, Bangalore-560 001, on or before February 28, 2009.

The cartoons will be judged by the institute’s four-member jury that includes playwright Girish Karnad, artist S.G.  Vasudev, The Hindu cartoonist Keshav and The Times of India‘s Bangalore editor H.S. Balram. The award ceremony will be organised in March in Bangalore, along with an exhibition of the selected cartoons.

For details, call 080-25595252 or 25559819.


The award has been instituted in the memory of Maya Kamath, one of India’s few women political cartoonists. Her work appeared in The Evening Herald, The Times of India, and The Asian Age.

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