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A penchant for caricatures keeps them laughing

The Sringeri brothers have a funny bone that comes alive on paper. Their caricatures often make fun of easily recognisable idiosyncrasies and personalities. DNA finds out who their favourite subjects are.

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Spare me not, Shankar, Jawaharlal Nehru is said to have urged cartoonist Shankar once. Cartoons draw out a home-spun wisdom that can make us smile at our idiosyncrasies, especially those of our politicians who make a lot of promises but forget to fulfil them. But today, most cartoonists and caricaturists across the country bewail the loss of the relevance of cartooning and caricaturing in traditional media.

Matt Davies, staff cartoonist of The Journal News In White Plains, New York and 2004 Pulitzer prize winner for editorial cartooning says cartoons and caricatures capture the attention of youth and encourage children to learn the language of editorial and political dialogue. “It is a fact that political cartooning has lost its pre-eminence in the media,” says Satish Sringeri of the Sringeri brothers duo, both cartoonists. “But the relevance of cartooning or caricaturing is only growing. Look at animation and advertisements,” Satish points out.

He need not have laboured. A look at the popularity of comic strips and cartoon channels among children, and one will know.
The Sringeri brothers have therefore resolved to ‘massify’ caricaturing and have brought out a do-it-yourself book that will be released at Indian Cartoon Gallery at Midford Garden on Saturday. The Minister for Law Suresh Kumar will also inaugurate the exhibition of some 70 caricatures drawn by the Sringeri brothers.

Satish and Raghupathi, both draw caricatures as a hobby and contribute to many periodicals and newspapers. Satish is an Ayurveda practitioner and Raghupathi, a graphic artist with TCS. Satish had won the  position of runner-up in the International Caricature on Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh Contest held here in January. There were 600 entries and 130 cartoonists from various countries vied for the honour. “It was a great moment,” recalls Satish. He had won for the caricature of Sonia Gandhi.
So what is the central idea of caricaturing, one wonders?

“A few lines covey a great idea and allow the viewer an insight into issues.” Quoting an instance, Satish points out to Raghupathi’s well-acclaimed cartoon on air pollution. Raghupathi drew the sun with a filter tied to his nose, looking angrily at the man who is shown driving his smoke-belching car. The driver too gets a glimpse of the sun’s angry face and shows fear. How man and his machine make even the patriarch of the solar family red with rage could not have been spelt out better.

Satish says RK Laxman is his role model and political cartooning seems set to go with Laxman. “It should not happen,” pleads Satish who is also secretary to Karnataka Cartoonists Association.
When asked whose features can easily be captured and which celebrities are difficult to draw Satish and Raghupathi say some celebrities and leaders are easy to draw while some aren’t.

“Those with prominent features, like Indira Gandhi with her wisp of white hair slicked back, Krishna Menon with a long aquiline nose, Morarji with his large flappy ears and Manmohan Singh with his turban and unsmiling face are easy targets but Sonia Gandhi among others is difficult because “her facial features are alien.”  The difficult personalities therefore bring out the best in an artist. For Raghupathi, Bin Laden and Vajpayee are easy to draw.
“I believe,” says Raghupathi, “cartoons and caricatures are essential tools of education. It develops in the young keen observation and insight into things which they otherwise may not notice.”  

Raghupathi says the best humour, cartoons and caricatures have migrated to the Internet, social networks and media. The ability to laugh at oneself and at the world is a great boon in a stress-filled modern life, he says. And, therein lies the relevance of cartoons and caricaturing. It is part of a philosophy of life and living.

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