The legendary cartoonist Mario de Miranda is being toasted in Goa on Monday, his 90th birth anniversary, with a host of events, including a concert by his favourite musicians.
An exhibition of Miranda’s works, reportedly the biggest ever, opened to the public on Saturday. It includes 60 pocket cartoons and 14 other drawings “published in The Illustrated Weekly and The Economic Times among other publications during his five-decade-long career”, said the Times of India.
Gerard da Cunha, an architect and longtime friend of Miranda, is marking the occasion with the release of The Life of Mario – 1949. An illustrated diary of the cartoonist, it recaps Miranda’s life when he was just 22 and a student at St Xavier's College in Bombay.
Da Cunha began collaborating with Miranda about 16 years ago, just after he had branched out into publishing to bring out a sumptuous book on Goan houses.
“The book was successful and this was when Mario came to me,” da Cunha had told Scroll.in in 2014. “He had done a book called Inside Goa, and wanted my help in rewriting and redrawing it. After that was done, he asked me if I could do a book on his work. It was also very successful. I ended up doing five books on Mario, along with two diaries.”
Mario was bestowed with several honours, including the Padma Shri, the Padma Bhushan and the lifetime achievement award from the All India Cartoonist’s Association. He received a posthumous Padma Vibhushan in 2012, a few months after he passed away at the age of 85.
Two years ago, Scroll.in had asked da Cunha to pick his five favourite Miranda works. It wasn’t easy to choose five from the thousands Miranda created, he said. Here’s his list.
1. The bachelor apartment
“This is one of my favourites,” said da Cunha. “It was done originally for a magazine called Cocktail in Bombay. It’s done on yellow paper and it’s got a wonderful detail about it: the kind of magazines that the man is looking at, the books and the overall mess in the apartment.”
2. Man at the corner
“This was done by him when he was in New York for an exhibition. Once Mario stopped working for The Times of India in the eighties, he became a freelancer. He was taken to New York by the United States Information Services for a month to draw whatever he wanted to. It is here that this water-colour painting was realised. He did a wonderful series of pictures there, which reflected the spirit of New York. This one is one of my favourites in that series.”
3. Mangeshi Temple
“I chose this because it is a hot favourite among his illustrations. The Mangeshi Temple is the most famous temple in Goa. It’s a straightforward, pure sketch: it’s got these beautiful buildings and has a symbolic significance to Goa.”
4. Village bus
“This is a crazy one! It’s based on the old Goan buses he used to travel in till about 20-25 years ago. This bus scene is something he used to draw from childhood as he was very amused by it. He’s drawn himself sitting on a seat with two big-breasted women sitting next to him. He was always looking at things and exaggerating them.”
5. Strange heaviness
“This one is just a cartoon which expresses his deadpan humour very well.”