Most of my generation today would perhaps not know who Mario João Carlos do Rosario de Brit de Miranda was.And I must confess, neither did I.
I knew him simply as a gentleman called Mario Miranda. And I loved his work.
Still very much do.
It is probable that the first works of Miranda were in the few odd weathered torn, rat nibbled upon (and often damp) copies of the Illustrated Weekly that I as a 4-5 year old dug out. Those were the days right after moving to Delhi. I loved the smell of stale paperback. I loved illustrations, different music,and snooping around. Those were the days where I had all the time to explore. And I was a dirty kid in that regard.Still am.
It was only much later of course, that I understood the illustrations in their full humor, their full context.
I remember his name coming up in a creative writing workshop in school sometime when I was probably in the fourth grade aged nine. I do not remember how. I do not remember why. Apart from that, I feel a sense of great shame, dissapointment, hurt and anger at the fact that I have possibly taken his name just once more in a conversation with someone other than myself.
Mario travelled far and wide in his time. Spain,Portugal,England, The US of A and who knows where else. So it wasn't surprising when I heard a girl about aged six telling her daddy, that the lady on the wall didn't look Indian, and the waiter in the cartoon looked Mexican(one of the positives of television). No. It was one of those moments where your mind discovers it's found a different piece of the same puzzle and the pieces fit...those lightbulb moments that make you feel all smug for a few seconds.
This was Cafe Mondegar after a gig at St.Xavier's in Mumbai. Pink Floyd,hot dogs and the realization of it being a dry day.
We've seen them over and over, the tigerskin on the politicians floor, the sexy naive young lady making the (not so)eligible bachelor nervous, the loud aunty next door, the big nosed granny and the chubby actress who's been out of business for a while, but the different situations and contexts he managed to place them in, with humor that would often do more than just poke, is what made him the genius that he was. Add to that the ability to make people hear noises, sounds and voices and often even smell different fragrances and aromas(sometimes not very pleasing) with a few simple strokes of a pen.Within a box.
One can hear the granny's loud voice in the cartoons, with the quavers, the trembles. One can smell the perfume of his well endowed miss universe. One can feel the bustling streets of his city.One can feel the cool breeze on top of his mountains, with the music and celebration of his carnivals downhill. One can feel the cramped sixteen- people-per-square-metre-of-area-Mumbai-Local on a hot humid day. One can sense the tension between to romantics on a table...... And the lines simply signed, sealed and delivered.
He was a magician. The most gifted, for he had the talent which evolved into this unhinged ability to transform the mundane into the exciting. The ability to draw something so simple, yet carry a not so simple meaning, in not so easy times, in a not so very small and simple context.....and if that wasn't enough, he actually managed to get us to relate to the characters in his tiny boxes....and then the cheeky man that he was, make us fall in love with them.
His cartoons simply reflect... him. Just as a book does it's author. There was never a dull colorless day in his world, one would feel. Always vibrant, happy, chirpy, funny and slightly cocky at times. He could lighten up the most grim of situations.Socio or economic..or even private domestic. *wink* wink* *nudge nudge*. His dynamism on paper reflected our society's change through time and this country's ironies portrayed in a way that would lighten up a person's morning. They reflected a country and society that was moving from begging to negotiating.
His toons were fresh and breezy, laid back and simply chilled. Maybe that was the Goan in him, maybe not. We shall never know.
So the next time I am at Cafe Mondegar, or at Toons in Pune, or anywhere I see cartoons adorning the walls that might even remotely have taken inspiration from him and his work, I shall make it a point to bring up the man, who manufactured the mood that is to be forever rushing through those spaces.
And I almost forgot. He did a jolly good job of making sheets of paper delivering depressing news getting people to smile. Even if it was only for a second.(Imagine the number of blessings. His readership/viewership would a be good place to start I think. Daily.Monthly.Yearly.)
Here's to you Mr Miranda. I'd love to see what you cook from up there, poking away at our tiny insignificant existences and happenings. I promise I'll take life just as seriously as your toons did in their vibrant worlds.
I wonder....how would it feel to be cartoonified by Mr Miranda? I can't imagine. Nor can I comprehend.
Only recently did I discover that he worked with Charles Schulz(Peanuts) for a while. Who knows, perhaps one of those Charlie Brown, Violet or Snoopy one liners that you may have or may read, could be Mr. Miranda talking.
Mario Miranda potrait courtesy Rajan Parikar. Images courtesy Google Image Search.