Death of legendary cartoonist Mangesh Tendulkar has created a void not only in the field of sardonic cartoons, but in Indian journalism and the social message spread by him through his cartoons, which can never be filled. Being a Cartoonist, I would point out that work of Tendulkar has inspired me a lot as cartoons are rich in artistic expressions with a deep sense of humour and bear the signature of his understanding of lighter side in rather tense scenario. Once in a life time we come across such a wonderful cartoonist who tells a complete story in one sketch. Tendulkar’s cartoons reveal the power of satire in exposing the foibles of contemporary problems. One doesn’t laugh wildly but one experiences the laughter of the mind.
Tendulkar’s cartoons always show his wisdom as the substance of the cartoon stands proven by the efflux of time. His work is an exceptional creation that wraps art, portraiture and comment in the same picture. He was also known for his satirical approach towards socio-political matters and was less known for his crusade against obesity in children. In fact, he created his unique space, giving us our daily food for thought, in his typical cutting style to depict the image in his cartoons.
Mangesh was active as a caricaturist for more than six decades beginning with his earliest sketches in 1954, presented the idiosyncrasies of the human condition in an evolving Pune. Known for his powerful visuals, through his social and political cartoons, he effortlessly exemplified the big truth that a picture is worth a thousand words. Though he did not receive any formal training in cartooning, he mastered the tinges of the art and took it beyond entertainment by highlighting various aspects and issues ranging from politics, art, civic issues, and environment on canvas. Through his cartoons, he commented on various aspects of life.
For the last several years, Tendulkar was socially active and spread awareness about traffic issues through his cartoons and caricatures. It is really a matter of pride that the Pune traffic police took note of the cartoons and actively used them in their awareness drives. Today when the road safety and traffic sense is a priority and concern to all of us and there is a need of regularly reinforcing this message, Tendulakar has often used to stand at traffic signals and distribute postcards with a message on following traffic rules, to commuters.
What distinguished Mangesh from his peers were his keen civic sense and the deployment of his talents as a weapon to foster civic empathy among Pune’s denizens. He was one of the most sharp observers and commentators of post independence India and was the “most effective commentator on issues of national and international importance to have dominated the news space for such a long time. He was an intellectual giant who will be missed for decades to come and will serve as an inspiration to many and always be remembered for his gentle humour. We are grateful to Tendulakar for adding the much needed humour in our lives and always bringing smiles on our faces.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)