Unpublished doodles of Laxman to be put on display

Bangalore: A collection of unpublished doodles of legendary cartoonist R K Laxman that reveals a more personal aspect of the creative genius would be put up on public display here for the first time.

Laxman known as the `Shakespeare of Indian cartooning` had during holidays to Mysore and Bangalore between 1975-1991 sketched around 97 doodles, some of which were an extension of conversations with his late brother R K Srinivasan.

A part of the family`s personal collection, the sketches will now be exhibited by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists at their gallery here from February 18 for three weeks.

Laxman`s nephew R S Krishnaswamy told PTI that his uncle was so fond of creating meaningless doodles during holidays that his father brought him a big scrap book where he could sketch on that day`s specific chat with him.

Some of the topics of conversation include poverty, politics, and the similarity of all religions of India. One evening also had a great `Winter Whiskey Session` between the brothers, as reflected in the doodles.

In 1991, Laxman drew an essence of his chat with his brother on the evolution of the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao. "Hundreds of people have seen these at home. Some have called them meaningless, nonsense while others feel they have deep philosophical and artistic significance," says Krishnaswamy.

Due to his relentless habit of sketching doodles, the 90 -year-old Laxman who now resides in Pune, was nicknamed `Doodu` at his house.

A doodle is a figure drawn without thinking when a person`s attention is elsewhere always. As a child, R K Laxman used to practise doodles with chalk on the floors of his house.

When he learned to wield a pen and pencil comfortably, he began to generously supply beards, moustaches and shaggy eyebrows to photographs or sketches which appeared in books and magazines.

"Sometimes he used to sketch meaninglessly while sitting idle. Other times he drew aimlessly while chatting. But to Laxman, these doodles mean a lot. He understands its significance very well," said the cartoonist`s nephew.

Many of Laxman`s doodles have now got lost due to lack of proper upkeep of the pieces of paper, he said adding these doodles which will be exhibited were also in a very shabby condition.

The Indian Institute of Cartoonists took it upon themselves to digitally restore them.

"During a conversation with Laxman two years ago, I learnt about these doodles lying with his family members. When I found them getting destroyed we decided to preserve them with plastic coatings and digitally scan them for an exhibition," says V G Narendra, managing trustee of the institute.

A Padma Vibhushan, Laxman inarguably the face of Indian cartooning to the world and is best known for his creation `The Common Man`, which became his signature style.