Early Life of R. K. Laxman
R. K. Laxman was born on 24th October 1921 in Mysore. His father was a headmaster by profession. R. K. Laxman is the youngest of six siblings. His elder brother was the prominent novelist R. K. Narayan. Even before he learnt reading, R. K. Laxman was captivated by the illustrations in different magazines like Tit-Bits, Wide World, Bystander, Punch, The Strand Magazine and others. This inspired him to start drawing on doors, walls and floors of his house. With the appreciations of teachers he then began aspiring to be an artist. The cartoons of the world famous British cartoonist, Sir David Low, also influenced him greatly. R. K. Laxman also served as the captain of his local Rough and Tough and Jolly cricket team and his antics inspired his brother Narayan to author stories like The Regal Cricket Club and Dodu the Money Maker.
R. K. Laxman's father suffered a paralytic stroke and died within a year when Laxman was still a child. After completing schooling, he applied to the J. J. School of Art in Bombay (now Mumbai) but the dean of the school rejected his drawing stating that his drawing lacked the quality required for enrolment in the school. Thus he completed his graduation from the University of Mysore with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He also continued his freelance artistic activities contributing cartoons to Swarajya and an animated film about a mythological character, Narada.
Career of R. K. Laxman
R. K. Laxman began his career working for newspapers and magazines including Swarajya and Blitz. During his days in Maharaja College of Mysore he used to illustrate his elder brother's stories in The Hindu. He also used to contribute political cartoons to the local newspapers and for the Swatantra. He also created cartoons for Kannada humour magazine titled Koravanji. The founder of the magazine Dr. Shivaram encouraged Laxman a lot. Laxman subsequently joined The Times of India, the association with which lasted for more than fifty years. In the year 1954, he created a popular mascot for the Asian Paints group named Gattu. He has also authored some novels and many of his cartoons have been used in flicks like Mr. and Mrs. '55 and a Tamil film Kamaraj. He also made sketches for the television adaptation of Malgudi Days.
Achievements of R. K. Laxman
R. K. Laxman has been honoured with a number of awards including Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India, Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature and Creative Communication Arts in 1984, Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism in 2008 and Pune Pandit Award in 2012 by the Art and Music Foundation for excellence in Creative Communication. To honour the contributions of this great artist, the Symbiosis International University houses a chair named after R. K. Laxman.
Personal Life of R. K. Laxman
R. K. Laxman firstly married Kamala Laxman, a Bharatnatyam dancer and movie actress by profession. However the couple got divorced and he got married again. Coincidentally his second wife's name was also Kamala. He suffered a stroke in 2003 and got paralysed on left side, however later he recovered partly from it.
Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman died on 26th January 2015. He died at the age of 94 at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune, Maharashtra. He was hospitalized on 23rd January 2015 for urinary tract infection and chest-related problems that ultimately led to multi-organ failure.
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