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‘Common Man’ creator RK Laxman is no more

MUMBAI: Legendary cartoonist Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman (RK Laxman), famous for his ‘Common Man’ cartoons that depict everyday life in a satirical tone, passed away yesterday evening after suffering a multi-organ failure.

Laxman, 94, lived in Pune and passed away at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital. He was admitted to the hospital on 17 January for urinary infection. After suffering a multi-organ failure, he was put on ventilator.

First starting in 1951, his front-page pocket cartoon series ‘You said it’ in the Times of India (TOI) presented his iconic ‘common man’, a silent witness to the shenanigans of politicians who were supposed to realise his dreams, hopes and aspirations but betrayed him on most occasions.

His association with the TOI continued through the six decades even as he got back to work after recovering from a paralytic stroke in 2003 that incapacitated his left side.

Laxman has been honoured with the Padma Vibhushan and the Magsaysay Award in 1984 for journalism, literature and creative communication arts.

In his condolence message on Laxman’s passing, President Pranab Mukherjee said, “I am extremely saddened to learn about the passing away of Shri RK Laxman. I feel personal loss because I was both an avid follower and subject of his cartoons. India will miss the genius who made the common man into a national icon. He conveyed important social messages using humour as a tool and reminded the public that people in authority are fallible and human.”

“India will miss you RK Laxman. We are grateful to you for adding the much needed humour in our lives & always bringing smiles on our faces,” PM Narendra Modi tweeted.

Son of a school teacher and brother of the late novelist RK Narayan, Laxman is survived by writer wife Kamala, retired journalist son Srinivas and daughter-in-law Usha.

Famously denied admission to the JJ School of Art Bombay, after his drawings ‘failed’ to meet the standards, Laxman caricatured the passion and folly of India’s human comedy.

While at college, Laxman began illustrating RK Narayan’s short stories for The Hindu and drawing political cartoons for local newspapers.

As the news of his demise spread, his admirers were seen flocking to the statue of ‘Common Man’ in Worli in Mumbai.

Laxman will be accorded a state funeral which will be attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Pune today.