It was like a dream coming true for the family members of R K Laxman as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday virtually inaugurated a modern art gallery-cum-museum dedicated to the legendary cartoonist here in Maharashtra.
The main attraction of the art gallery, located at Balewadi, is a miniature model based on the village of Malgudi which will become virtually alive through audio-visual effects.
The art gallery also houses over 30,000 "timeless" sketches made by the cartoonist, best known for his creation "The Common Man". These sketches are available in both digital and physical formats.
Malgudi is a fictional town in southern India conjured by R K Narayan, sibling of R K Laxman, in his short story collection 'Malgudi Days'.
"I would like to congratulate Usha Laxman, (daughter-in-law of R K Laxman). Today a state-of-the-art gallery, dedicated to R K Laxman, has been inaugurated..I congratulate Ushaji and her family for their dedication, commitment and enthusiasm in completing this project," the prime minister said while inaugurating the gallery virtually from the MIT College Ground, where he launched several other infrastructural projects.
Usha Laxman said that it all started on January 26, 2015, when R K Laxman died. "Though PM Modi could not attend the funeral of RK Laxman in Pune, he had instructed Devendra Fadnavis, the then CM of Maharashtra, to announce a museum dedicated to the legendary cartoonist," she told PTI.
Later, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) took up this project and proposed the art gallery on 1,315 square meters of space.
"After 2018, the PMC handed over this project to the Laxman family for designing the art gallery. We then started the work but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the pace for some time. But we completed the work, and today it is like a dream coming true for all of us," she said.
Taking the art gallery-cum-museum project forward became a special excitement for me and my family members, she recalled and hoped that the art gallery will become an "institution for aspiring artists and students who wish to research".
We will explore likely collaboration between the gallery and universities in India and abroad, she added.
"This art gallery is the story of R K Laxman like a biography. It portrays the life of Laxman from the age of three; how he started sketching and how his sketches were recognised by his drawing teacher. The story is all about his aspirations to become a cartoonist. So it is all about his journey of becoming a cartoonist and how he went on to become a political cartoonist," she said.
According to Usha Laxman, there are two interesting aspects of this facility- a room dedicated to a feature 'a day in the life of Laxman', and a wax statue "which is like the true life appearance of R K Laxman".
"We also have a miniature model based on the village Malgudi complimenting both the brothers. It is a sound and light program," she said, adding that the voice over is lent by Bollywood actor Boman Irani for English and actor Dilip Prabhawalkar for Marathi.
"The story of the life of R K Laxman goes like - the common man narrates the story and does the walk-through saying that 'I would like to tell you a story of a man who created me," she added.