Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mario Miranda

I thought it would be a good time to post a few pictures I clicked while in Goa a few years ago. I had to spend a few hours in Margaon railway station, to catch the wonderfully named train ‘Matshyagandha Express’ to Mangalore. It was the middle of the day and I thought I would grab a bite at the railway canteen.

I went to the canteen and it was as if I had entered into an art gallery — the walls were filled to colourful Mario Miranda figures. You cannot mistake them for anything else. They are all classic Mario.

There’s something about his figures, the eyes particularly, and their sense of joie de vivre, a naturalness of existence, a carnivalesque attitude to life, which we have come to associate with Goa...

Another cartoonist, Ajit Ninan, writes in Times of India (Mumbai, December 12, 2011): “Though perhaps not as intellectually sharp as Laxman, Mario had, in some sense, greater popularity among the reading public than Laxman. That’s because Mario’s work touched the heart. His characterisation of people, particularly the weaknesses of the male of the species, was superb. He brought home to you the foibles of man through gloriously detailed illustrations of life in the office, on the streets and above all, at parties. In a nutshell, just as Bollywood brought India to the world, Mario brought Bombay to India.”

That’s true. Like Laxman’s Common Man is unique, like M F Hussain’s horses are unique, so are unique Mario Miranda landscapes. Anybody can draw a caricature. What is more difficult to draw is the landscape. This is something Miranda was expert in, creating the background, with a few strokes, a series of buildings, hoarding, streetlights, cars, and everything that you encounter in a crowded Indian street. Writes Ninan: “His mastery of architecture and of fashion trends was one of the keys to this. Mario’s ornate illustrations of the colonial structures of Mumbai wouldn’t have been possible for anyone with a weaker grasp of architecture.”

While other cartoonists would opt for minimalism, Miranda would go for ornate, details, details which you may not see in a real life persona, but would see in his drawings.

Back to Margaon station. I left the eatery to the wait for my train at the waiting room, and there, to greet me, were more Mario Miranda drawings. I don’t want to call them cartoons, as cartoons are more associated with lampoons. Miranda’s drawings are more of a celebration than lampoons. There is love in those lines and you can see them.

And I remember those old yellowed pages of old Illustrated Weeklys I used to read a long time back, which featured a Parle G or a campa cola ad with a Mario Miranda drawing.

The Ajit Ninan article: The man who brought Bombay to India.
Teary-eyed Goa bids adieu to Mario in The Times of India.
Mario Miranda, a chronicler of his times in IBN Live.

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