Nituparna Rajbongshi – one of the most prominent cartoonist and journalist of Assam. Since 1997 he has been associated with cartooning and many of his cartoons have been published in various leading newspapers, magazines, websites nationally and internationally. In this talk with Creativica he reveals the passion, dedication and a few secrets of his cartoons and career.
CM: Hi Nituparna, Creativica welcomes you!
NR: Thank You!
CM: Tell us something about your early life.
NR: Well, I was born and brought up in a very small town of Assam, Sorbhog (known as the dairy abode of the state) in a lower middle class family. My parents led a very simple life. My life in my small town was full of adventures pertaining to my age and I really liked to spend my days amidst natural environment. Another interesting thing to let you know is that I used to act as a vendor of home grown vegetables in our local markets to meet the necessary expenditures of home. So, basically it was a life full of varied thrilling experiences which has a profound influence on my present life.
CM: How did you decide to be a full-time cartoonist?
NR: To be frank, I didn’t have any strong interest in drawing in my childhood. Being the child of an army personnel, my initial aspirations were to fulfill my father’s dream. Naturally, my dreams were very easy going and were related to what I had seen in my locality. Those dreams included some craziest things like becoming a bus conductor, a footballer, a cricketer, even sometimes a thief and so on! But, from childhood as I have grown up seeing buses and trucks moving through the highway in front of our house, I really liked to draw those vehicles. However, with time I had developed an interest in learning Martial Art, which was an obvious Bruce Lee effect! But, as my parents were concerned about me being a spoiled child; they sent me to a fine art school instead of martial art. And with that, my dreams had started changing. Gradually, the politically active ambience of my locality and the problems of common people have given rise to a peculiar sensitivity within me. I wanted to depict those common people’s conditions in my drawing. During those days of early teens, while going through various art exhibitions of some esteemed painters, I was quite surprised to find that their works were far from common people’s understanding. Moreover, they were beyond the common people’s reach. This made me decide that I must take such an medium of drawing which will directly convey the thought of masses everywhere and will also spread awareness among the masses regarding the vital issues of society. Thus, I have found that cartoon is the medium which has such the strength to represent the masses and this is how I started practicing as a full time cartoonist.
CM: Anyone who inspires and inspired you a lot in your career?
NR: Although I have taken cartoon as a profession, it’s actually a sense of responsibility towards people that has inspired to become a cartoonist. So, basically it is the sorrow, dissatisfaction and overall plight of the common people that has inspired me to draw cartoons.
CM: Apart from a cartoonist, you are also a staff-reporter of a leading newspaper in Assam, how do you manage these two professions at a time?
NR: Actually, for me both the professions are complementary to each other and thus maintaining both of them has never become a problem for me. I find time for cartooning within my busy schedule as a staff reporter and this is how it is going on.
CM: Most of your cartoons reflect the current affairs of politics, any reason behind concentrating on political affairs?
NR: To be precise, whatever we are doing or wherever we are, our lives are more or less related to politics or are influenced by political decisions. Although many of us opine that we want to stay away from politics, but in reality one can’t avoid the same because right from the price of essential commodities up to the taxes that we pay, everything has direct or indirect relationship with political policies. On the other hand, politics is not only about one party or the other; it is about the entire system of our societal governance. Thus, any positive or negative dimension of a political issue has relation with our common lives and hence they find a special place in my cartoons. However, although political issue based, many of my cartoons have the other dimension of social well-being too.
CM: What do you feel, how much a cartoonist is responsible for the society?
NR: Very much! Every cartoonist should have a strong sense of social responsibility to bring the vital social issues into light.
CM: Do you think that a cartoon can motivate the masses positively as well as negatively?
NR: Yes, Definitely. In this regard, I would like to mention that, cartoon is never a joke. Cartoon is the voice of the masses. So, misrepresentation of a particular issue or lighter representation of a serious issue may mislead people to a significant extent. So, we should be careful in this regard.
CM: You’ve also been awarded for your excellence, how much it is important for you and your career?
NR: For me, more than an award, people’s affection and acceptance is much more important. So, instead of high profile galleries and visitors and also awards, when I get a chance to go among the masses, to interact with them, to draw and exhibit among them, I find it more rewarding!
CM: A good topic, a well drawn cartoon and a good caption – do you think these three things are the key points of being a good cartoonist? Which of these three things comes in to your mind first before you start to draw a new cartoon?
NR: Yes, these three are the key points of a good cartoon to a certain extent. But as a whole, the representation should be such that it has an impact on those who see it.
For the second part of the question, my answer is that it depends on the situation whether the issue or the caption or the picture of a situation comes first to my mind.
CM: How do you keep yourself up-to-date on all current affairs?
NR: I always try to gather every single bit of information from the day to day affairs and dealings with common people by talking and listening to them. Apart from that, I regularly follow almost all print and electronic media to keep myself updated.
CM: You held a solo cartoon exhibition in 2007 at State Art Gallery (Guwahati) and also started the first ever mobile cartoon exhibition in Assam and North Eastern India, how the public responded to it?
NR: Yes, It was quite positive.
CM: What is your opinion on how much of our North Eastern India’s people are aware of cartoons and cartoonists?
NR: Frankly speaking, the level of awareness is still at its budding stage. People still think cartoons are jokes. For this, some of the cartoonists are also to be blamed who use cartoons to represent some adult joke and such lighter things. But, as a whole, we need to be more and more serious on this.
CM: You’d also published your own cartoon collections in 2010 entitled Aarchi (The Mirror); have you ever come up with an idea of creating an exclusive comic strip?
CM: The last but not the least, where do you see yourself five years from now?
NR: I would always love to stay as simple as I am today, even with more and more success as a cartoonist!
CM: Thank you for giving us your valuable time.
NR: It’s my pleasure! Thank you Team Creativica and all its readers for giving me an opportunity to exchange our thoughts.