IT is part of a newspaper readers everyday routine and many of us seek it out first thing in the morning. Yet,there has been very little emphasis on cartooning as an art form in India. This thought occurred to writer-columnist Anil Dharker on a trip to Goa recently.
Upon his return,Dharker,also the director of Literature Live! The Mumbai Lit Fest,chalked out a plan for an event that could help turn the focus on cartoons. This weekend,therefore,will see the first edition of the Mario Miranda Cartoon Festival,which will take place in Goa and will be an annual affair. I had Mario Miranda and his work on my mind when on that trip to Goa. And given his amazing body of work,I decided to dedicate the festival to him, he says.
A two-day affair on May 4 and 5,the festival is scheduled to take place at the Sunaparanta Goa Centre for Arts,an Indo-Portugese bungalow that has been turned into a non-profit venue to promote various art forms. The festival will feature Indias leading cartoonists Ravi Shankar (formerly of India Today),E P Unny (The Indian Express),Keshav (The Hindu) and Hemant Morparia (Mumbai Mirror) among others,while veteran journalist Vinod Mehta will be the keynote speaker. A collection of almost all of Mario Mirandas works will be exhibited as part of a retrospective at the venue,along with RK Laxmans unseen doodles.
There will also be discussions on subjects such as Drawing the line between funny and provocative,The art of caricature,Can cartooning be elevated to the position of art? and The art of political cartooning.
I realised that instead of being nurtured,the art form is actually being stifled by politicians who refuse to view political cartoons with a sense of humour. This is the reason we decided to address the subject of political cartooning, says Dharker,referring to Kolkata-based Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra and the controversy over the demand to remove a cartoon about BR Ambedkar from school textbooks.
While there is no entry charge for the festival,there are limited seats. I am hoping that apart from cartoonists,people with keen interest in arts and also artists will attend the festival as there is an urgent need to take cartooning seriously, Dharker says.