Not everyone can become a cartoonist, prominent caricaturist Sudhir Tailang says, even as he maintains the profession will never die out.
"Not everyone can become a cartoonist. Only those who have a blend of creativity and a personal opinion of the world and can present this vision with humour can succeed," Tailang said.
Despite the lack of youngsters in the profession, Tailang was confident that the art of cartooning would never die out.
"Cartoons will not die an easy death. It is not easy to kill cartoons," Tailang told IANS at an exhibition at the F Bar art lounge here Wednesday as part of its "In Focus" celebrity theme.
In Focus events are conducted once a week to applaud the accomplishments and talents of achievers and newcomers.
Tailang, 48, has been a cartoonist for 28 years. He first made a mark with his daily Here and Now pocket cartoons in the Hindustan Times in the 1980s. Drawing his first cartoon at the age of 10, he began his career with the Illustrated Weekly of India and now draws a daily caricature for the edit page of the Asian Age - under the Here and Now label.
That he has his finger on the pulse of the nation can be gauged from the cartoon in Thursday's edition of the Asian Age. It depicts a worried looking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling Congress president Sonia Gandhi: "Not Jammu, Soniaji...JMM needs our immediate attention". It's a telling comment on the Indian political establishment where Kashmir might be burning but the focus is on ensuring the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha continues its support to the Manmohan Singh government.
According to Tailang, "cartoons will always get exclusive space in a newspaper". Proof of this can be found in the fact that almost every leading and even middle-level newspaper carries at least a pocket cartoon on its front page every day.
"I represent the common man, what he thinks and what he goes through everyday. My cartoons represent them," Tailang maintained.
For him, a cartoon is 70 per cent idea and 30 per cent drawing. "There is a thin line between a good and an insipid cartoon. It's up to a cartoonist to nurture his thoughts and put them across in the appropriate manner," he said.
Like every cartoonist, Tailang has his share of favourite politicians - and in his case, it is former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao.
"Rao's entire personality was made to order for a cartoonist. His nostrils and pout gave him an edge over his counterparts. I think he was invented for cartoonists," Tailang contended.
Rao apart, there's also Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani.
"I have drawn more than 100 cartoons of Advani," Tailang said, adding: "(Samajwadi Party leader) Amar Singh is another vibrant candidate for a cartoonist."
Among the younger leaders, it's Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi whom he likes to draw because of his sharp features and sophisticated looks.