Mario Miranda: An Enigmatic Legend

A cartoonist or an illustrator? An artist!

Mario Miranda was one of the most acknowledged artists of India. Wikimedia commons
Mario Miranda was one of the most acknowledged artists of India. Wikimedia commons

Mario Miranda, one of the most versatile artists that lived, had a diverse range of styled and command over different mediums. He used to avoid political cartooning, but as a social cartoonist, his role is unmatched.

‘He was an enigma’

He maintained diary from the age of 10. These diaries are the rarest source of visual chronicles of Portuguese Goa. They captured life in the changing times.

“Mumbai, seen through Mario Miranda’s eyes, is at one level cosmopolitan, symbolising the good things in life, and at another level, a nightmare with its acute space crunch and sundry other civic woes,” says Gerard da Cunha, curator of the artist’s work.

Mr da Cunha believes though that though Mario gained huge popularity during his lifetime, his true genius is yet to be recognized.

Mario Miranda had held exhibitions in 22 countries. Mario Miranda website
Mario Miranda had held exhibitions in 22 countries. Mario Miranda website

A brief history

Mario Miranda was born in 1926 in Portuguese India. He used to draw on walls as a child. Hence, his mother brought him a ‘diary’. Mario was to maintain it for the lifetime.

He started his career with The Illustrated Weekly of India, which published a few of his works. Earlier, he had been rejected at Times of India, which now offered him a slot. Following which, Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca had started to appear in majors like Femina and Economic times regularly.

Mario had also worked with R.K. Laxman before he met another artist, Habiba Hydari, whom he eventually married.

The real thing started to work out when he received an invitation of the United States Information Services. Miranda traveled to America. This trip got him a chance to work with Charles M. Schulz.

His sketch, Balaco Serenade was sold for Rs 5,50,000. Mario Miranda website
His sketch, Balaco Serenade was sold for Rs 5,50,000. Mario Miranda website

 

A legacy

Mario Miranda’s murals are still present in various buildings in Goa and Mumbai. One of his most famous works can be spotted on the walls of Cafe Mondegar. The then owner Rushi Yazdegardi had asked Mario to draw murals on two opposite walls with different themes. The themes were ‘Life in Mumbai’ and ‘Atmosphere in the Cafe’.

Achievements

  • Padma Shri in 1988
  • Padma Bhushan in 2002
  • Lifetime achievement award by All India Cartoonists’ Association
  • Highest civilian honour of Spain “Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic
  • Portuguese knighthood in 2009
  • Padma Vibhushan in 2012

Exhibitions

Mario had held solo exhibitions in 22 countries including the United States, Portugal, France and Japan.

A pocketful of chuckles, an exhibition which was held by Galeria Gitanjali, Panjim in 2016 was the largest exhibition which showcased the original paintings of Mario Miranda.

A 288-page compilation of caricatures named The life of Mario: 1949 was also brought out by Gerard Da Cunha.

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