In protest against the row over the cartoon of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar,cartoonist Vajinath Dulainge is travelling across the city to generate awareness about the art form
Cartoonist Vajinath Dulainge is dressed simply. He carries a messenger bag and a paintbrush,and wears a buckethead hat. Two cartoon drawings are slung across his shoulders,one on the front and the other on the back. For the last five days,ever since the issue of the cartoon of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the NCERT textbooks creating a furore,Dulainge has been traversing the length and breadth of the city on foot. His mission – to educate citizens about the importance of cartoons that have political relevance,as well as raise awareness about the clampdown on cartoonists. To that effect,he began his walk five days ago from Shaniwar Wada and has till now covered places like Karve Nagar,Shivajinagar,JM road,Deccan-FC road,amongst others.
“There is so much difference in what we are taught in school,and the real world,” he says. “To create an issue about a cartoon that was drawn almost 60 years back just shows how much freedom of expression we really have in a democracy. It is happening to cartoonists now,will happen to artists and then writers. In fact,it has already happened in the past,” he adds.
Dulainge has a cartoon of a pen striking a sword-wielding hand with the word ‘Satta’ written on the hand slung on the front. On the back is a picture of a harrowed cartoonist trying to save his job by drawing a non-controversial cartoon. He says that the two pictures aim at lampooning social evils and mocking the narrow-minded attitude of politicians.
Born to a revolutionary father in the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad,Dulainge says there are no birth records that exist of his. “I must be over 50,” he laughs. An alumnus of the JJ School of Arts,he has been working as a freelance cartoonist for over 30 years with various Marathi dailies in the state. “Even the recent demand for the shutting down of Abhinav Kala Mahavidyalaya is a classic example of the clampdown on freedom of expression. Along with other cartoon artistes from the city,we will be taking up this cause too,” he says.
The fact that prominent politicians who have been cartoonists themselves have not spoken out against the issue continues to bother him. “I will be doing this for the next week. Post that I will hold a street exhibition of cartoons and a workshop on the art form and its importance in our society. Awareness needs to be generated and yes this issue highlighted the fact,how important are cartoonists for our society,” he says.