During the decade that followed 1970, I was working in Mumbai for few years. I used to stay at Andheri and had to travel every morning by a crowded local train to reach my office in south Mumbai. My daily routine included the Lunch brought to me by famous 'Dabbawala' of Mumbai and evening return to Andheri by even more crowded local train. This very same routine was followed bu hundred thousands of people like me in those days. There were not many channels available then for entertainment. There was no TV and what we could see in theaters were typical Hindi films with their typical hero's, heroins, villains and their fights and sweet endings. There were not many magazines, and what used to available, had very poor print quality. Subsequently in 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed national emergency on the country and the life for an ordinary man became even more colourless and drab.
Yet, in those drab days, we had two things , which brought a smile on our faces. The first was the small, Common man's cartoon, by one of the great cartoonist of those times, Mr. R.K.Laxman, that appeared on the front page of Times of India under the caption “You said it!” and the second was the full page cartoons published in Sunday times and Illustrated weekly of India by another great cartoonist, Mario Miranda. Laxman's cartoons used to be simple with just one or two characters and a catch line. Miranda's cartoon would be spread all over the page featuring hundred or even two hundred characters in it and little bubbles showing the comments these characters were supposed to be making. It would take minimum 15 to 20 minutes to see the full cartoon and appreciate it. The more the time you spent on it, the more enjoyable it became. I remember having spent my full travel time by a packed suburban train from Andheri to Churchgate reading just one cartoon page by Miranda. In his cartoons, he would draw some characters like a socialite lady with a huge bust, a politician with a Gandhi cap, Mumbai's wealthy merchants or 'Shetajis' and a fisher women from Goa in such a distinguished special way, that even with a glance from a distance, the reader would know that the Sunday Times has published a new Miranda today.
The suburban rail travel usually a pain in the neck would turn into a laughter club with Miranda cartoon in hand.His presentation of the fish market in Goa or a Mumbai street scene would be like a complete story by itself.I can never forget some of the characters like Ms. Nimboopani, drawn by Mario Miranda.
I never knew that Mario Miranda spent his retirement years in Goa after retiring from the Times of India. Some of his recent cartoons showed details about Mumbai's streets and obscure little places so accurately and uncannily that I always thought that he lived in Mumbai and was a full time Mumbaikar.
The brush in the hands of Mario Miranda has suddenly stopped painting now, when he was 85. Mario Miranda is no more.
With their phony socialistic policies, rulers of Independent India, spoiled the social life of an entire generation of my age. In our drab world, Mario Miranda brought a smile for few moments on our faces with his cartoons. I want to express my gratitude to him and pay my homage.
11th December 2011