At a time when cartoonists’ expressions are earning wraths of different politicians and are being dealt with police action – raising a nationwide debate over the border of their “freedom” – Kerala Cartoon Academy (KCA), a 30-year-old institution with over 100 members, is all set to present President Pranab Mukherjee a Coffee Table Collection of 131 cartoons and caricatures of his own, 30 of them having been drawn by the late iconic cartoonist KPS Kutti.
“The President has agreed to be present at the occasion commemorating first death anniversary of Kutti, to be held in New Delhi in late October. We’ll present him this evermemorable book that time,” cartoonist Sudheer Nath told HT. He added, “We met the President on September 1 to get his appointment and he willingly agreed to be present at the programme. Some of us also gifted him cartoons and caricatures on him and he was happy to receive them”.
While this programme has nothing to do with the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi episode, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee may well be invited by Rashtrapati Bhavan to be present during that occasion, as Kutti’s career as a cartoonist peaked while working for some Bengali dailies. In a career spanning about seven decades, Kutti drew cartoons and caricatures of most political bigwigs, including several on Mukherjee.
The Academy has requested cartoonists to send their work to the KCA’s address by September 30, after which the final collection will be selected. Kutti died on October 22, 2011. However, the programme would either be held before 20th October or after 25th October, as Mukherjee will be in West Bengal between October 20 and 23 to participate in the Durga Puja. Incidentally, in April, Banerjee earned the wrath of cartoonists across the country following the Ambikesh Mahapatra episode, in which the Jadavpur University Professor was jailed for e-mailing a spoof on her. Kerala Cartoon Academy had struck back with an online cartoon exhibition on Banerjee.
Two years ago, when the country was debating the pros and cons of the Indo-US nuclear deal, commonly known as 1-2-3 agreement, cartoonists across India drew a number of cartoons on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The KCA had presented Singh a collection of 123 cartoon and caricatures on him.
A former MP from the Jangipur constituency of Murshidabad and a key trouble shooter in the Congress and the ruling UPA regime, Mukherjee was elected the first President from Bengal in the July 19 polls.