Tuesday, July 5, 2011

This is TOMS, the living legend of Kerala in cartooning , who persuaded every literate malayali of his times to leaf a periodical from the back page backwards. Such was the pull of his mischievous brats- BOBANUM MOLIYUM (Boban and Molly) - that every cartoonist was persuaded to prove his coming of age through creation of characters that told a tale not in a box or panel but in a full page , that too every week. When ' Cheriya Manushyarum Valiya Lokavum (Small Men and the Big World) of the illustrious cartoonist-turned-film maker Aravindan revelled in enthralling the hyper literate malayali, Bobanum Moliyum remained the perfect socialist, subduing the minds of child and the grown up, irrespective of variation in any attribute. The weekly impact through the last page of the No.1 circulated weekly Malayala Manorama was direct and unpretentious even as the series that just told pranks of the two siblings grew up over the years into deadly socio-political commentary of our times. Even after quitting the weekly, Toms continued with the series after being permitted by the publisher to do so even though the media tycoon of Kerala won the most severely fought author-publisher case in the history of Kerala media jurisprudence. Now, Toms has entered the Limca Book of Records record for the longest running (52 years) cartoon serial in India.

Felicitation of Toms, Guru to many contemporary cartoonists, on his 81st birthday on a boat floating on the backwaters of his native Veliyanatu in Kuttanad was an idea mooted by Prasannan, Chairman, Kerala Cartoon Academy, two years back. But, it was Heartlight Association, Kerala that blew life into the rudimentary idea adding the concept of a documentay on the Master cartoonist. It was this guy, KK Prakash , President of the Association and a restless organiser, who helped materialise the dream in matter of days. Well done, Prakash !

On the boating eve, the 2nd July, a brainstorming session was conducted by the KCA members on participation in the documentary. Questions to be fielded were prepared and men and women to be approached, identified. Cartoonist Prasannan and Anil Vega , being closer to the local culture chose to throw light on the nuances involved.

3rd July. Kumarakom boat jetty precincts. Toms surrounded by (from left) novelist KL Mohanavarma, Advertising tycoon Sabu Colonia , Tom's advertising manager, TR Subash , Chennai cartoonist EP Peter and KCA partisan-Politician-Buisinessman Job.
Local MLA, Suresk Kurup just arrived folowed by State Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan .
MLA felicitates the boat ride, followed by...
the minister.
the Minister begins a hectic day seeing the faces of cartoonists
whom he has been enjoying in the morning newspapers, for years..
KL Mohanavarma thanks the guests
MLA receives Kerala Cartoon Academy's prestigious creations - ' Resool : Rehman 50:50 '
and Cartoon Jalakam, the KCA monthly - from Prasannan, the KCA Chairman. .
Minister ready to flag off the ride... Binu Balakrishnan, Prsident,
Childrens Film Society, Ernakulam on extreme right.
a 1 minute gracing by the MLA
Just before boarding our boat.
the man in red deserve to be appreciated much better just by the fact that he had made the legendary singer Mohammed Rafi to sing 6 songs for films! KCA can only wish for more and more proven talents like Jithin Shyam, now settled in Mumbai, join our cause. The eve had resonated to Jithin's singing the mellifluous Rafi number Thum Meri Dushman
The long march in search of our Boat ' Karuthamma ' begins here. Past rows of lookalike boats siding the walk, finally we reached the end of the dilapidated country jetty, 1 km afar :(
Meanwhile, the octogenarian Toms had settled inside the first seen beautiful boat
which somehow turned out to be not ours !
Saiber, animator of Bobanum Moiliyum . Behind, Sujith, Santhosh, Madhoos.
Toms, KL Mohanavarma, KK Prakash
Interview inside the boat is being shot. Asokan Pallikkathodu
nature photographer
Cartoonists Prasannan, Jairaj, PV Krishnan, Jayaraj Velloor and Abba Vazhoor.
Cartoonists Balu, Jepy,Prashobh
Cartoonist Anil Vega, close collaborator of this function and ex-bodybuilder
gives a tip to the lightest of us, Prashobh.
Align Center
The occasional peep through the curtains revealed this and more below..
Finally, by 4pm we reached the spot, veliyanadu, Tom's birthplace, where

Peter Thoms, 90, elder brother of Toms and cartoonist par excellence was waiting us for hours .

The three brothers, the youngest and quietest on the left.
The old walls of the 86 year old ancestral house was plastered by layers and layers of paper cuttings and picture sheets with Peter Thoms' cartoons adorning the most prominent spots.