Strokes of genius
Gireesh Vengara tells you why even heads of government, monarchs and ministers fear political cartoonists
If you think cartoons are stock illustrations published in a corner of your newspaper, think again. A cartoon is perhaps the most viewed and loved section of the paper.What strikes you about Gireesh Vengara, whose political cartoons are currently on display at Midford House, off MG Road, is the air of seriousness he wears. He believes that his cartoons "must carry forth a message".
You are a painter, a designer and a cartoonist. Which of these roles do you enjoy the most?
Cartoonist, without a doubt! When I was young, I used to doodle in class and my Malayalam teacher would encourage me. When my neighbour's cartoons were published in a weekly magazine, I was inspired to mail some of my stuff to a popular weekly. My first cartoon was published in Malayala Manorama when I was 18years old, and that gave me the confidence to send my cartoons to other publications as well. For a short while, I worked in a newspaper. Winning the Best Cartoonist Award in 1988 from the Kerala Cartoon Academy and Brushman School of Fine Arts, will remain my most memorable moment.
What, according to you, is the hallmark of a good political cartoonist?
One has to be well-read and well-informed, especially with regard to current affairs. My day begins with browsing through a stack of newspapers. Sometimes, an idea is triggered and the cartoon becomes a product of an insight to a piece of news.
Weren't you ever tempted into trying your hand at comic strips?
Politics is my obssession. I used to be angry with politicians , and like most people in India, I would crib and complain. But I realised that I had a very powerful weapon that was adored by the masses by abhorred by corrupt politicians, and that's why I took to cartooning. Through my cartoons I highlight the follies of the government. Cartooning is my way of trying to reform society.
Do you make use of any graphic tools to create your cartoons?
No, I don't. I colour my cartoons using Photoshop. But creating my cartoons is all through the power of my hands. Handstrokes have immense strength. Moreover, I believe, every cartoonist's originality lies in his hands. This is what gives a cartoonist his original style and makes him different from the rest.
If you had to give one tip to all the aspiring cartoonists, what would it be?
My only advice to them would be that they shouldn't treat cartooning as a hobby. A good cartoon is one that has a message to convey.
Tell us about your painting.
My first series, called Energy and Power, is almost complete.
he medium is the message: Gireesh Vengara says he took up cartooning after realising the futility of cribbing about corrupt netas.
By: Tanu Kulkarni