Saturday 22 October 2016
17 November 2012 National Bal Thackeray The Cartoonist

'A Very Quiet Person, Somewhat Nervous And Even Timid'

"Remember Thackeray, he was so timid that if the chair moved under him, he would get scared."

The first time I met Mr. Bal Thackeray was the day I joined the Free Press. (I will not mention the date, because that will age both of us, and though I do not mind people knowing my age, Mr. Thackeray might.) One of the reporters took me around the office, which was then at 21Dalal Street, and introduced me to several staff members, including those of the Janshakti and the Navshakti. "And this is Thackeray, our cartoonist," he said. A long, poodle-face with a cigar in the mouth looked up from the drawing-board, smiled, and extended a paint-stained hand with artistic fingers.


After that, I used to see him daily, as I used to see the other members of the staff. He had no cabin; except the editor, nobody had. He used to sit in one corner of what was known as the library, though the only books it had were what came for review, and which the proprietor, instead of handing out to reviewers, used to keep in glass cupboards, locked up.

He used to sit near a window that looked out on the verandah, so that he could get enough natural light for his drawings. The verandah led to the lavatories, so we were bound to look in on him every time we went past. He would be sitting there, concentrating on his drawings, a cloud of smoke permanently hanging over his head. We used to hail him, talk to him, interrupt him in his work. He was never disturbed, he had no hang-ups, at least in those days.

I remember him as a very quiet person, somewhat nervous and even timid. RG. Desai, who was also a reporter then, told me a few years back: "Remember Thackeray, he was so timid that if the chair moved under him, he would get scared."


I do not think he had any particular friend in the paper. He used to go home with Ajit Merchant, who looked after the film page regularly. At least, they left the office together in the evenings, laughing and joking as they passed through the reporters' room.

But Bal Thackeray was very obliging. During one fortnight, he drew each and every reporter individually, one per day, and presented the drawing to the reporter. You can never expect Laxman to do that, he would charge Rs. 5,000 from each reporter, possibly more.

I do not know where my drawing is. Possibly thrown away, as I have done so many other things. I wish I had kept it; it would have not only shown how I was in those days, but how Bal Thackeray was then.

November 1, 1991, Published as Balasaheb, the cartoonist

Copyright: Busybee, courtesy Farzana Contractor

Another Superfluous War 'A Sort Of A Maharashtrian Woody Allen'
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail

More than a decade after India first started the procurement process, it has finally inked an €8bn agreement to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault. The original deal was to buy 126 Rafales to replace the accident-prone Russian MiG-21s. Ultimately, the government offered to buy only 36 ready-to-fly planes.

POLL STARTED ON: Sep 26, 2016
Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro is hosting the 31st Olympic Games from August 5 to 21. This is the first Olympics being held in South America and is going on even as a majority Brazilians are unhappy with their rulers. Here’s a quiz on some random Olympic facts and related trivia.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Aug 11, 2016