A Cartoonist Remembers By O.V. Vijayan Rupa I do not like O.V. Vijayan. Yes, I know I published a lot of his work in The Illustrated Weekly when I was editing it. That is because I found them very topical, very relevant in those days. But today, I no longer,A Cartoonist Remembers By O.V. Vijayan Rupa I do not like O.V. Vijayan. Yes, I know I published a lot of his work in The Illustrated Weekly when I was editing it. That is because I found them very topical, very relevant in those days. But today, I no longer think so.For he makes me think too much. And, like the rest of India, I am coming to believe that thought is not entirely a good idea.To begin with, cartoons are supposed to be funny. They are meant to make you laugh or smile. Vijayan’s work does neither. In fact, what is worse, they always leave me disturbed. Not just disturbed with the world outside, but also disturbed within myself. I feel angry, shortchanged. I guess that is why no newspaper will ever ask Vijayan to do the front-page cartoon again.They will have no readers left. After all, cartoons are part of the morning ritual. You wake up, brush your teeth, drink a hot cup of chai, sit on the potty and laugh with R.K. Laxman. At least that is what I did for years-till Laxman stopped making me laugh.But to be disturbed in the morning? To be provoked by thought, anger, despair and disappointment, the deep anguish and sadness of spirit that Vijayan brings? No, that is not what newspapers are for, remember? Why do you think all the bad news is getting pushed inside and the front page hijacked by the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan? Because no one wants to wake up to bad news.The local bad news appears on the city page. The global bad news on the world page. Sports scams on the sports page. Corporate frauds on the business page. The front page stays clean. No wonder, cartoonists like Vijayan and Rajinder Puri have vanished!advertisementVijayan’s problem is that he chose to be a cartoonist. You expect him to raise a laugh. Instead, he always caries the cross of pain, anger, disappointment on his frail shoulders.He raises concerns. He cuts through the cant and hypocrisy, the deceit and dishonesty of our time. He sees through the lies, the chicanery. In fact, it was Vijayan who brought to an end the age of genial cartooning and made savagery his baseline.But he is no Eminem either. He is a balladeer of the spirit. Like Joan Baez who woke you to your conscience, he makes you look at the mirror and ask yourself who you are, what you stand for. Yes, his lines are cruel. He challenges you to think, to react and if you do not, he ridicules your helplessness and makes you even more angry.In an age where the dividing line between news and entertainment has now entirely vanished, where truth and fiction live together as man and wife, where the fantasies of war and national pride have long overtaken the simple issues of food and shelter, free speech and human rights, the cartoonist as a social commentator is as irrelevant as the circus clown.That is why the bitter sarcasm, the vicious body language of his art, the intemperance, the brazen honesty that Vijayan stands for makes him totally anachronistic.So it is just as well that he does not draw any more. That he stays, as this book declares, in a secluded, peaceful part of Kerala. For it is no longer safe for thoughtful men with a conscience to live out here.The India we once knew has been taken over by politicians, movie stars, scamsters and the brain-dead children of the fashion industry. The dialect of protest has long been forgotten. Instead, all you have around you is the ennui of the half living and a media that ; has chosen to deliberately dumb down.