The Safe Drive Save Life International Cartoon Exhibition is currently ongoing at the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bengaluru, India from 24 August to 7 September this year. The Jammu and Kashmir cartoonist, Chander Shekhar is curating the program associated by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Fahad Mir Foundation, Bunton Club and Toons Mag. In this creative occasion, Toons Mag was in conversation with the curator, Chander Shekhar and the Managing Trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, V.G. Narendra about the cartoon exhibition at hand and the impact cartoon has on India and the world.
”It was 1978 when I started collecting cuttings of newspapers, stealing the newspaper of neighbors to make a scrapbook on cartoons. Very interestingly, the neighbors never asked me about it. During my college days, I got to know about the prominent cartoonist of India named R.K. Lakshman and started following him. One day, I found my scrapbook and saw that the cartoons I have put in my scrapbook are of none other than R K Lakshman’s,” Shekhar reminiscences the past as to how it all started for him as a cartoonist.
Regarding the theme of the exhibition, he says, “My inner being made me come up with the idea for an exhibition on Safe Drive Safe Life. It is a raring need of today’s India to sensitize the masses to drive safe. In India, we don’t have ethics on the road. Being an artist, it’s my responsibility to do this kind of work to sensitize the folks of my country through my cartoons.” Shekhar takes his responsibility as an artist very seriously and wishes for his work to make the traffic situation in India a bit better for a change.
When asked why he has chosen Bengaluru over other Indian cities for the exhibition to be held, Shekhar explains, “I feel, Bengaluru is a hub of cartoonists and I chose Bengaluru because Indian Institute of Cartoonists, Bengaluru approached me to showcase my exhibition on this growing issue of India.” He also mentioned why they had to opt-out of holding an exhibition in Jammu and Kashmir at present, “Due to the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir, it is not happening in Jammu and Kashmir (as of now) but after the state gets normalize, very soon it will happen in Jammu also.”
Mr. Shekhar was delighted with his correspondence with Toons Mag as he says, “I am very thankful to Mr. Arifur Rahman who has helped me a lot like an international media partner.” The correspondence with Toons Mag has been “a grand success” he feels with the amount of media exposure the exhibition has received. He also mentions that 220 cartoons have been submitted from 38 countries for the exhibition this year and the best 90 out of them are set to be displayed in Bengaluru during the exhibition that runs from 24th of August to 7th of September if everything works out as planned.
The Managing Trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC), V. G. Narendra also looks back at how the institute had come into being years ago. “The Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC) was established in 2001 to promote the art of cartooning in India. The main aim is to recognize talents, felicitate and archive their works for the future generation and also to give professional training to the younger cartoonists and popularize the art among the people,” he says. He also adds, “The Indian Cartoon Gallery, first of its kind in India, was established in 2007 to provide display space to all the professional and amateur cartoonists. Mr. Ashok Kheny, MD, NICE, an ardent admirer of cartooning has provided 5000 square feet of prime place in Bengaluru for the institute and also he has been sponsoring all the events at the gallery. So far the gallery has organized 166 exhibitions in 12 years, including the works of Indian and foreign cartoonists.”
Upon being asked about the cartoon competitions the IIC has been arranging for years Mr. Narendra mentions, “IIC is organizing every year, for 11 years, International Maya Kamath Memorial Awards (MKMA) Competition for excellence in Political cartooning and Best budding cartoonist.” He shares IIC’s plans to expand their impact in popularizing cartooning as an expressive art form, “We are planning to build ‘HOUSE OF CARTOONS’ to house many galleries, conference hall, picture hall, library, museum of cartoons and book shop.”
He had nothing but great things to say about Toons Mag, “IIC has established collaborations with many cartoon organizations in the world including Toons Mag of Norway. The promoter of Toons Mag, Mr. Arifur Rahman, has creative and innovative ideas to develop the art of cartooning in the world. He is also a hard-working and down to earth man. IIC is very happy to collaborate with such a famous professional. We wish Toons Mag all the success.”
Cartoonists have an elegant job of unveiling the crude truths of the world adopting the most artistic way possible. Political cartoons have been a force to be reckoned with nowadays and cartoonists around the world are aware of using the platforms wisely to impart knowledge and positivity through their artworks. The international cartoon exhibitions are the biggest platform there is for such goals to be achieved. Institutions like the Indian Institute of Cartoonists (IIC) are the key and the cartoon enthusiasts of the world are the part and parcel of this journey. Toons Mag wishes all the very best to the ongoing exhibition and to those who are constantly working towards making the important voices heard.
See also: International Cartoon Exhibition, India.
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