Variety

Intolerance and the ‘common man’

Rahul Thekdi Mumbai | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 24, 2015

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‘He would have definitely voiced his opinion on the growing intolerance’

Usha Laxman’s eyes fill up with nostalgia and voice with pride as she points to a sketch placed at a rare end of the Laxman house, the last creation of legendary cartoonist, RK Laxman.

‘Common man on the red planet’, created on the personal request of his son, is the closest you can get to a Laxman commentary on daily life and the debates that dominate the common man’s life.

With actor Aamir Khan stirring up a discussion on tolerance in the country, you wonder how the legendary cartoonist may have reacted to the prevailing environment.

“He was not a man to protest, he was a man who was with the common man,” says Usha Laxman, daughter-in-law of RK Laxman, as the Laxman family and web designer Tejas Taori engage in a chai pe charcha (without chai) with BusinessLine on the recently launched rklaxman.com.

The website hosts works of the legend, provides a platform for budding artists to showcase their talent and seeks to promote the freedom of expression. It was launched about a month ago by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on the 94th birth anniversary of Laxman,

“Had my grandfather been around he would have definitely voiced his opinion on the growing intolerance in the country,” says granddaughter Rimanika Laxman.

Usha further points out that Laxman was of the opinion that things in this country have more or less been the same, with no change irrespective of the ruling government. “What he did 60 years back is still relevant,” she adds.

The growing threats to the freedom of speech do not spare even cartoons. But that would not have been the case with Laxman, says Usha. “Dad never faced such problems; he had a sense of decorum in his works, his humour was strong yet subtle.” Explaining the reason for the website, Usha says, “The family always wanted to have the website, we thought about it three years back.” The aim was to introduce future generations to his works.

Giving us a sneak peak into the upcoming happenings on the website, Taori says a series of episodes introducing his family will be launched soon. “We have got a lot of hits; we are planning to get a lot more artists onboard.”

Published on November 24, 2015
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