Google today reminded us all of this genius who could bring a smile in every face, every day when we opened the Times of India or The Illustrated Weekly of India or the Economic Times or even the Femina. By honouring Mario Miranda on his 90th birthday with a special doodle featuring naturally a rainy Mumbai tableau, drawn by artist Aaron Renier, who like Miranda is also known for portraying crowded cityscapes, Google reminded us of this great genius. Mario’s slice-of-life style represented the layered view that people saw every day. His portraits were always bustling and teeming with characters, each of whom seemed to have a mind of their own. His creations, such as Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca were all so well known to us that we could pick them up in any crowd anywhere!
Mário João Carlos do Rosário de Brito Miranda (2 May 1926–11 December 2011), popularly known as Mario Miranda or Mario de Miranda, was a cartoonist and painter par excellence. He was based in Loutolim in Goa from where he created history. It all started in Daman, then in Portuguese India, where he was born to Goan Catholic parents. At an early age when his mother saw him drawing on the walls of his home she brought him a blank book, which he called his "Diary". He got into trouble for sketching the caricature of Catholic priests in school. Mario Miranda's early cartoons presented vignettes of Goan village life, a theme he is best known for even today.
He studied at St. Joseph's Boys' High School, Bangalore and then did a B.A. in History at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai and tried studying architecture but soon lost interest. He started his career in an advertising studio, where he worked for four years, before taking up cartooning full-time. Illustrated Weekly of India was his first stop, then Current magazine and soon after was a regular with the Times of India.
Miranda's big break came in 1974, when, at the invitation of the United States Information Services, he travelled to the U.S, which enabled him to promote his art and interact with other cartoonists there. He got a chance to work with Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and interacted with Herblock, the editorial cartoonist of the Washington Post. He held solo exhibitions in over 22 countries, including the United States, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Singapore, France, Yugoslavia, and Portugal.
The Nation awarded him the Padma Shri in 1988, the Padma Bhushan in 2002. The All India Cartoonists's Association, Bangalore, honoured him with a lifetime achievement award. The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, conferred on Mario the highest civilian honour of "Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic" which was presented to him on 11 November 2009 at his family home in Loutulim by Don Miguel Nieto Sandoval and on 29 December 2009 Portugal, under the President of the Republic Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, made him "Commander of the Order of Prince Henry", a Portuguese National Order of knighthood. Mario Miranda was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India, by the President on 4 April 2012.
Immortalized even after his death Mario’s cartoons grace the walls of one of South Mumbai's most famous hotspots, Cafe Mondegar, in Colaba and his caricatures are also seen in the municipal market of Panjim, Goa. Besides cartooning, Miranda's murals are present on various buildings in Goa and other parts of India. As if that was not enough, he took to painting later in life and excelled once again!
He had published several books - Laugh it Off, Goa with Love, and Germany in Winter time and he illustrated books by Dom Moraes (A Journey to Goa), Manohar Malgaonkar (Inside Goa) and Mario Cabral e Sá's (Legends of Goa). He also illustrated many children's books of Uma Anand including Dul-Dul, The Magic Clay Horse (1968), The Adventures of Pilla the Pup (1969), and Lumbdoom and The Long-Tailed Langoor (1968).
Mario Miranda's sly sense of humour was evident in all of his illustrations which spoke so much about the society, in fact much more than words could ever do justice! On his death Vijay Seth, a fellow cartoonist, who considered Mario as his mentor, paid a fitting tribute: “With pen & ink that were at his command to churn out lines that every nib would be jealous of, he brushed aside the old school of cartooning using the brush, and set a new norm to use the nib pen and to master it for this branch of art. Mario created characters that gave his daily audience their quota of a smile without malice. His trips around the globe produced subtle close observations of the local musings – a fitting example of how far can one stretch the parameters of this branch of neglected art.”
An outstanding Indian, whom I remember fondly seeing in the morning news paper every day sang ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ on behalf of all of us. Indeed I miss his ‘sur’ today!