Renowned cartoonist R K Laxman passes away at 93 in Pune

R K Laxman
R K Laxman
Renowned cartoonist R K Laxman, who made his way into the hearts and minds of millions of readers in India and abroad with his iconic character, The Common Man, who saw and understood everything but rarely spoke, passed away at a private hospital here this evening.
He was 93. He is survived by his wife Kamla Laxman, a writer of children's books, and son Srinivas Laxman, a well-known journalist with The Times of India.
Mr Laxman had been admitted to the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital & Research Center here on January17 for treatment of a urinary tract infection and was put on ventilator support after suffering sepsis and multi-organ failure, his doctors said.
They said Laxman had significant premorbidities in the form of old cerebrovascular stroke and residual dysphasic state. He also had diabetes, hypertensin and diabetic nephropathy, they said.
He was first admitted to another hospital in the Aundh area on January 16 for altered sensorium and breathlessness, and shifted to the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital's ICU the following night.
He treated with mechanical ventilation as his respiratory function was  inadequate; medications to improve his blood pressure as his organ perfusion remained critically compromised, and then Renal Replacement Therapy ( a modified version of Dialysis) was started along with standard ICU care. He was unconscious since admission," the hospital said.
His condition started deteriorating since yesterday evening. "All the possible efforts were made to improve his multiorgan dysfunction but he did not respond to the ongoing therapies. Today on 26th January 2015 Mr R.K. Laxman had cardiac arrest and could not be  resuscitated from the same," a statement from the hospital added.
Born on October 24, 1921 at Mysore, Rasipuram Krishnaswamy Laxman was the youngest of the six sons of a school headmaster. One of his older brothers was the well-known writer R K Narayan.
He achieved remarkable success and adulation as a cartoonist, illustrator and humourist during a long and illustrious career and, though his works have appeared in several books and magazines, it was his daily pocket cartoon, "You Said It" for The Times of India, which he began in 1951, that won him immense popularity. The cartoon instinctively captured the thoughts and feelings of the long-suffering common man on the streets in India. His wry humour helped thousands of Indians begin their day with a smile.
Laxman began drawing on the floors and walls of his as a toddler and used to make caricatures of his teachers and others at school.
Inspired by the renowned British cartoonist Sir David Low, Laxman began drawing objects that caught his eye outside the window of his room --- "the dry twigs, leaves and lizard-like creatures crawling about, the servant chopping firewood and, of course, and number of crows in various postures on the rooftops of the buildings opposite", as he himself wrote later.
Laxman started thinking of himself as an artist, but his dreams suffered a jolt when the famous J J School of Art in Bombay turned down his application to join the institution as a student. He graduated with a B. A. from the University of Mysore and used to contribute cartoons as a freelancer to local magazines.
Some of his early works appeared in publications such as Swarajya and Blitz. He was noticed by a wider audience when he began illustrating Narayan's stories in The Hindu and with his political cartoons for the Swatantra. He also contributed cartoons for the Kannada humour magazine Koravanji.
Laxman's first full-time job was as a political cartoonist for The Free Press Journal in Mumbai. He later joined The Times of India in Mumbai, an association that lasted for well over half a century.
Among other works, he created the popular mascot Gattu for the Asian Paints company. He did sketches for the television adaptation of Malgudi Days, written by Narayan and directed by Shankar Nag.
Laxman was in indifferent health for the past decade or so, after being affected by a stroke in September 2003. He had been bedbound for the past few months.

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