Times of India cartoonist RK Laxman dies after illness

RK Laxman, 11 June 2005 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Laxman was well known for the cartoons featured by The Times of India newspaper

Legendary Indian cartoonist RK Laxman has died in hospital at the age of 94 following multiple-organ failure.

He was being treated for an infection at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in the western city of Pune.

His daily cartoon "You said it" had appeared on the front page of The Times of India for more than 50 years.

Laxman, the brother of the late novelist RK Narayan, was renowned for holding up a mirror to Indian daily life and politics.

Laxman was being treated for a urinary tract infection and kidney failure, doctors told The Hindu newspaper, and had been put on a ventilator. He was reported to have suffered several strokes since 2010.

He was best known for his iconic "Common Man" character, an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of which was unveiled in Pune in December 2001.

"I wouldn't say politicians represent the country. I don't think they do. They have forgotten the common man, they think the common man belongs to them, to serve them," Laxman is quoted as saying.

His daily cartoon was also known for lampooning political leaders, sparing no-one, NDTV reported. One of those caricatured by Laxman, former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, surprised the cartoonist by ringing him up, not to complain, but to request a signed copy of the cartoon to frame.

Image copyright Courtesy: The Times of India
Image caption One of his cartoons imagined Mahatma Gandhi bemoaning the state of the country

In 2005, the government honoured Laxman with the Indian civilian award Padma Vibhushan.

The youngest of six sons, Laxman began drawing as a boy but was turned down to study at Bombay's prestigious Sir JJ School of Art because, it said, he lacked talent.

He began working as a cartoonist in the 1940s, working for The Times of India from 1947 just as the country gained independence from Britain.

Cartoon courtesy of The Times of India Group. Copyright: Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd. All rights reserved.

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