Eminent cartoonist and Marathi writer Mangesh Tendulkar (81), who died on Monday night, will be remembered for creating literary works and satirical cartoons that were irreverent but direct, as they pointed out what was wrong with the society. His last rites were performed at Vaikunth crematorium at 1.30 pm on Tuesday, in the presence of over 150 people including cartoonists, social activists, artistes, politicians and numerous others who had gathered to pay homage to Tendulkar.
The acclaimed cartoonist was admitted to a private hospital on Sunday after he complained of a pain in the stomach. He was due to undergo surgery as he had developed complications in his bladder. Recalling Tendulkar’s last moments before he was taken inside the operation theatre, Tendulkar’s daughter Neha Dhavale remembered her father’s words. “ We were with him at the hospital. Just moments before being taken inside for the operation, he handed over his hearing aid to my son Amol and told us that he would now be entering the ‘no-network area’… little did we know that it would be his journey to the heavenly abode,” said Dhavale.
While remembering about Tendulkar, a soft-spoken person, fellow cartoonists spoke about how his writing was strong and critical, and focused on the upliftment of society. They also came together to pay tribute to his works by sketching a teary-eyed pen and a paintbrush. Nonagenarian Marathi writer Babasaheb Purandare shared that he spent more than seven decades working with Tendulkar. “He was a true man of the society… he would work relentlessly to bring about a definitive change, be it through his writings or his cartoons,” he recalled.
He had received no formal training in art, but the cartoons created by Tendulkar left a deep impact on people’s mind. He was one of the few prominent personalities in the city who actively participated in addressing Pune’s traffic woes and tried to instill the need of following traffic rules among Puneites. On many occasions, the Kothrud resident would be spotted at the various road junctions along Karve Road, including Nal stop, where he would stand amid heavy traffic with his cartoons.
During his brief stint with the Pune Traffic Department a few years ago, he had lent his cartoons to the cause, as they spoke about adhering to traffic rules, following traffic signals, and wearing helmets and seat belts. His work instantly struck a chord with many people, who went on to join him in the cause. Senior cartoonist G B Deklurkar, in particular, spoke about how Tendulkar would pen strongly-worded pamphlets and distribute them at traffic signals. “He was a born artist and he made apt use of his talent in pointing out the wrongdoings in society. Though he spoke softly, his words created ripples and conveyed the message,” shared veteran cartoonist Murali Lahote.
Tendulkar’s well-wishers said the ace cartoonist was a humble and down-to-earth person, who would often be seen talking to people at art exhibitions and book launches. But he never accepted any pick-up and drop services offered by the organisers, they said.
“He always led an independent life and would prefer to cycle or ride a two-wheeler to reach the venue. He always denied a car service offered by the organisers,” said Dinkar Thopte, a city-based sculptor. Many politicians, who were often the subject of his cartoons, also paid rich tributes to Tendulkar. “He was a true social worker, who was… working on the ground to bring about change. Pune will truly miss him,” said Vandana Chavan, M P, Rajya Sabha.
Anil Shirole, Lok Sabha MP from Pune, said, “He was actively involved in social work until he breathed his last. His cartoons were widely used to address the traffic issues of the city.”