Have you gone mad? Why do you want to go to Mumbai? The Mumbai reader will always compare your work with RK Laxman’s and never accept you,” warned a friend, a senior editor with The Times of India’s Delhi edition. I didn’t heed his advice and left The Economic Times to join DNA.
Once I joined DNA I realised my friend was right. My editors started comparing me with Laxman even before my cartoons could reach my readers. But once the newspaper hit the stands, I was amazed by the response I started getting from readers. Today I feel indebted to Mr Laxman.
Not only did he start the tradition of serious cartooning in newspapers, but he also created a committed readership for cartoons.
Fellow cartoonists often wonder what makes Laxman great. Is it, as he himself claimed, his genius? Is it because the competition decided to bid goodbye to cartooning and form a political party? Is it his detailed drawing? Is it because Times editors feared him and never interfered with his work? Is it his ability to write long captions? Is it his infamous temper? Is it because he used to be the first to reach office and the first to leave? Is it because he always wears a white bush shirt and black trousers and drives a black Ambassador? I’m still to find a satisfactory answer. Do write to me if you have one.