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Yesterday comes alive

Punch Magazine, the British humour bible, died in 2002. This book reminds me of the time when I frequented Lucknow’s British Council library to get my copy of the Punch, which ignited the cartoonist in me.

books Updated: Jun 01, 2012 17:42 IST

Wit and Wisdom: Pickings from the Parsee Punch

Mushirul Hasan

Niyogi Books

Rs 795 pp 164

Punch Magazine, the British humour bible, died in 2002. This book reminds me of the time when I frequented Lucknow’s British Council library to get my copy of the Punch, which ignited the cartoonist in me.

The Parsee Punch originally appeared as a four-page medium-size tabloid in black and white. The cartoons were accompanied with English and Gujarati captions, some type-set, others hand-written by the cartoonist. The style resembled that adopted by the mother magazine, which mostly had fantastic wood-cut illustrations crafted by old school artists. The drawings in Parsee Punch are done in deep hatching’s style, in pen and ink.

Mushirul Hasan’s Wit and Wisdom, a compilation of the Parsee Punch cartoons, is a window to late-19th century India and the issues of the day. In spite of its satiric take on the Raj, the British loved the magazine. They never banned it, despite the merciless lampooning.

Many topical issues, whether it is the expenses over the expansion of railways or the shortage of drinking water in Bombay, are dealt with. The book is a good read and a treat to people who want to learn about that period while enjoying the cartoons of yesteryear’s.