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Meet Cartoonist Shyam Shankar: Find out what inspires this self-taught Artist!

Shyam also conducts workshops for all ages in a bid to encourage the budding talent

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Illustration by Shyam Shankar. Image source: mljohnyml.blogspot.com
  • Shankar moved to Chennai and started working at the age of 15 with a children’s magazine
  • He prefers manual drawing over digital methods of sketching
  • Soon he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines in numerous languages

As a child, you might have undergone several failed attempts at sketching. But have you ever wondered who blows life into the characters you see in a children’s magazine or in a film storyboard? Well, it is the artistic genius of talented cartoonists and illustrators.

Speaking to one such cartoonist, Shyam Shankar, The New Indian Express brought to the surface nuances of this highly-skilled profession.

Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express
Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express

Shankar, now 38, started off with sketching toons professionally when he was just 15. However, he recalls that even as a child he was quite passionate about drawings.

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He said, “By the time I was 12-year-old, the walls of my room were full of drawings and paintings stuck on them!”

He further said that his grandfather always encouraged his talent.

Shankar moved to Chennai after his class 10 and was immediately employed by a children’s magazine as a cartoonist. His talent soon got the wings it deserved as he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines, including ones in Telugu, Tamil and English.

Debunking a myth that a cartoonist’s job is mere to sketch, Shankar explained that it is not just drawing the character “but an entire situation must be visualised in one’s mind.”

He added, “You will be given the entire script but unless you observe the situations people live in, you cannot commit it to paper. For example, if you are told to draw the main characters —a fishing couple — you cannot draw it unless you have actually been to a fishing community and observed their life. What is expressed in one sentence in the script must be exactly portrayed in the illustration.”

Talking about the dearth of talent in the industry, Shankar pointed out that several budding artists fail to observe and hence are not able to develop their art.

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“My entire life has been like a single racehorse. There are very few peers in my field. I often tell the artists I meet to develop their talent and then I myself will introduce them to major magazines. What’s the use in having talent without competition,” he stated.

Shankar also frequently conducts workshops with Ramakrishnan (a known cartoonist), which are open to all ages and are aimed at nurturing the talent.

He also revealed that all his drawings and painting are manual as he doesn’t prefer digital methods that take away the authenticity and beauty of the artwork.

Shankar concluded by saying, “I don’t believe in visiting cards. My work is my visiting card!”

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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Rameswaram island
We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

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“Whispering Toros” : Journey of Artist Kanchan Chander narrated through work in New Delhi

Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions though her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience

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Artist Kanchan Chander, drawing
Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions though her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience.
  • Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions through her drawings, paintings
  • Earlier, her works were based on torsos that were minimal, monumental and sparse with decorative and embellished motifs
  • Highlights of the show include a paper collage on plastic mannequin torsos which are bold, funky and vibrant

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The journey of an artist is encapsulated in her ongoing timeline narrating where she began from to now, when she engages with her subject before putting life in them.

Artist Kanchan Chander has created expressions through her drawings, paintings and installations with a unique charisma to engage her audience.

Her show titled, “Whispering Toros” is on for view here at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Center, till August 23.

Kiran. K. Mohan has curated the exhibition.

“As a curator, it is my very first interaction with Kanchan and her works in her studio bring across a great sense of bonding,” Mohan said.

“I have followed her as an artist for years and have silently related to her works which are thought-provoking, dealing with the issues prevalent in our society,” she said.

Highlights of the show include a paper collage on plastic mannequin torsos which are bold, funky and vibrant.

Her works are full of forms of the torso using different mediums. “They resonate her style and all the tedious intricate detailing surrenders to perfection. Kanchan has been working on female toros for past two decades,” the organisers said.

Earlier, her works were based on torsos that were minimal, monumental and sparse with decorative and embellished motifs. Now she started incorporates painted flowers, sequins and Swarovskis on them.

They works are full of textured lines, built by layers upon layers of paint. Yet at the same time her mixed media torsos are embellished with sequins, Swarovskis, stickers, laces, wrapping paper and any found objects, which she is constantly on the lookout for at home, on streets and local bazaars.

“As she works, her thought process is more human and intuitive — ensuring that all art elements like composition, tonality, lines, colour, mediums and placements are summarised with precision,” the organisers said. (IANS)

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Gay Men Dating in Cartoons Banned in Kenya: Is India Standing on the same Pedestal?

Kenya Takes Up Step to Stop Exposure of Homosexuality in Children

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The Loud House Cartoon
The Loud House Cartoon is banned in Kenya.
  • Kenya bans some cartoon shows airing on Nickelodeon as they were flagged to be disturbing content glorifying homosexual behavior
  • The Loud House (only one episode of two gay men dating each other), The Legend of Korra and Hey Arnold were some of the banned shows
  • Exekiel Mutua said, “Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children”

June 22, 2017:

After millenniums of being into existence, we still have our reservations from homosexuality. Even though its explanation in the ancient times, we still refrain from conversations with gay men dating others. A person’s sexuality is a matter of his own choice and the sole owner of this field is the person itself but the world can’t digest the fact of exposing people towards other people. What we need to remember is denying their existence means crippling your thoughts!

The exposure of homosexuality to children in our society through cartoons plays a very big role because it shapes the thinking of the child but on the other hand, the world is just ignoring the fact and hiding it so that it doesn’t create a single impact on the child. This brings out the need to have more discussions on exposing homosexuality to children and how it should shape the modern world.

One case that recently came into light was in Kenya where gay anime shows which aired on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were banned from the country because it was flagged as disturbing content and ‘glorifying homosexual behavior’ among children.

Some of the names of those programs were-

  • The Loud House –The show is about the life of a child living with 11 other family members and his house is a mess.
  • The Legend of Korra –It is a sci-fi show where all the cartoons are known to bend matter.
  • Hey Arnold – The show centers on a child name Arnold who falls in adventurous troubles with his friends.

The Chief executive officer of the regulatory board, Exekiel Mutua said that “Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children”.

In India, there is hardly any chance that the cartoons can be related to homosexuality as there is a possibility it may be considered not normal or even a crime. The most relatable example in the Indian concept is if we talk about the movie ‘Bombay Talkies’. The movie has four short movies and two of them is “Ajeeb Dastan Hain Ye”  and “Sheila ki Jawani” and in that movie.

ALSO READ: Amnesty Condemns Caning of Gay Men in Indonesia by Sharia or Islamic law in Indonesia

In “Sheila ki Jawani”, the protagonist aspires to become a dancer and dances to the tunes of the Bollywood song Sheila ki Jawani but his father wishes him to have a more manly aim such as to be a footballer. This small example can exactly tell you about the scenario in India. How profession is linked to the gender and not to one’s individual choices. In this country, people are more concerned about a boy child not to have ‘Girly’ Dreams then how can one expect the cartoons to be glorifying homosexuality.

The idea of not including homosexual content in cartoons is because it is believed that it might induce homosexual behavior in children. Though ironically, if cartoons start having these hints of homosexuality for children to view at a young age, they might react normally when they witness an actual homosexual relation. There is a possibility that we will not push or reject anyone to a corner for the choices they will make. Acceptance might rule. THINK!

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi