Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman, widely known as R. K. Laxman (24 October 1921 – 26 January 2015), was a celebrated Indian cartoonist and humorist. He is best remembered for his iconic creation, the “Common Man,” and his profound influence on political satire and humor in India.
Early Life & Career
R. K. Laxman was born on October 24, 1921, in Mysore, India. He was the youngest of six siblings in a family that had a deep appreciation for the arts. Laxman’s elder brother, R. K. Narayan, was a renowned author, and their household fostered a creative environment.
Laxman’s passion for drawing and satire emerged early in life. He began his career as a cartoonist at The Free Press Journal in Mumbai in 1947. It was here that he created the iconic “Common Man,” a character that would come to symbolize the hopes, aspirations, and frustrations of the ordinary Indian.
Laxman’s “Common Man” character, often depicted with a checked coat and a trademark bald head, became a beloved figure in Indian society. Through this character, Laxman captured the essence of the common people’s daily struggles, making his cartoons relatable to millions.
In 1951, R. K. Laxman joined The Times of India, where he worked for over five decades. His “You Said It” cartoon, published in the newspaper, became an iconic feature and a mirror to the political and social landscape of India. His sharp wit and humor addressed political issues, bureaucracy, and everyday life.
R. K. Laxman passed away on January 26, 2015, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire cartoonists and humorists across India and beyond.
Legacy and Awards
R. K. Laxman’s cartoons transcended linguistic and cultural boundaries. They were celebrated for their wit, insight, and the ability to comment on complex issues through humor. Laxman’s work is celebrated as an integral part of Indian culture.
In recognition of his immense contribution to Indian art and journalism, Laxman received several prestigious awards, including the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan, two of India’s highest civilian honors. He was also a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts.
On 24 October 2015, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Antoni van R. K. Laxman’s 94th Birthday.