June 18, 2012

Honoring Toms and Seeri (June 17, 2012)

Bringing Cheer With Their Strokes
(The Hindu, June 18, 2012)
Renowned cartoonists S Sukumaran Potti and M. K. Seeri were honoured at a function organised by Kerala Cartoon Academy in association with Sayahna Kairali and Tamasha Publications here on Sunday. Minister for Culture KC Joseph inaugurated the function and honoured Mr. Sukumaran while Minister for Excise K. Babu honoured Mr. Seeri.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Sukumaran—better known as cartoonist Sukumar—said he had a penchant for drawing caricatures since childhood and that he had mastered the art of cartooning at his home. All those strokes have, perhaps, not gone waste after all, he said.

Sukumar's ability to find humour, in his inimitable style, not only in political pot boilers, government policies, public and social happenings but also in mundane activities of life made people look forward to his cartoons and columns for about half a century. Alluding to the controversial cartoon that recently created a stir in both houses of Parliament, Sukumar said cartoons are generally disliked by the people in power. Sankar's cartoon of the snail is perhaps most applicable in today's situations as nothing seems to be happening in the government administration, he said.

Cartoonist M. K. Seeri, in his reply speech, said it was a teacher's guidance that made him take to drawing and later to caricatures and cartoons. He said he realised cartooning was his vocation and that there was no looking back after his cartoon appeared in the Manorama Weekly in 1962. He said he continues to be a guide and teacher to a number of students even now after 50 years in the field and that he is inspired by the works of a lot of people in the field. Cartoonist Yesudasan, the main speaker on the occasion, reminisced his formative years and spoke about the various tools that cartoonists use to evolve their style.

He said the Academy has been seeking its own house for nearly 30 years and it should have its own programme and club it with Lalita Kala Akademi. Cartoons give food for thought, said senior cartoonist Toms of the Boban and Molly fame. Brushing aside the claim by politicians that they enjoy daily cartoons, Toms said he had his tryst with a legal battle when the former Chief Minister K. Karunakaran dragged him to court over his cartoons. Mr. Joseph said criticism with humour was an unparalleled art. Mr. Babu spoke about the corrective measures a cartoon can inspire. Poet Chemmanam Chacko; writer K. L. Mohana Varma; Charles Diaz, MP; Mayyattil Satyan of Samanvaya Samskarika Sadas, Cherai; Balachandran, former chairman, Kerala Cartoon Academy; and cartoonist Sudhirnath were among those who spoke at the function.

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