|Santosh Bhingare with Balasaheb’s cartoons
It is yet another example of Balasaheb Thackeray’s attachment towards artists and art lovers. Santosh Bhingare, a small-time librarian from Kothrud who had wished to organise a cartoon exhibition and a get-together of cartoonists and wanted Thackeray to inaugurate the same, was stunned with the Sena chief’s response.
In this instance which took place 18 years ago, Thackeray heard him out and spontaneously handed over 20 of his best cartoons to be displayed at the exhibition.
Then in the midst of an election campaign, the Sena supremo was hardpressed for time, recounted Bhingare. “Despite that, he handed me a 30-minute CD with tips and pointers by him for budding cartoonists.
As he was too busy to attend the exhibition, he instructed his younger brother Shrikant, also a cartoonist and a music director, to inaugurate the event,” he added. Bhingare, 48, runs Saraswati Library on Paud Road.
The memories are fresh, he said, as he pulled out clippings of the cartoons given to him by Thackeray, and the CD as well. “Back then, I was struggling to make ends meet.
I had started my own library to fulfill my passion for reading and to put food on the table. When I thought of organising a small cartoon exhibition, I wasn’t too sure of how to go about it. Such events were rare then,” Bhingare said.
With much trepidation, he made the journey to the tiger’s lair, Matoshree, to invite him. “The moment Balasaheb understood the reason behind my visit, the distance between reduced. I insisted that the event be launched by a Thackeray family member,” he said. Thackeray’s CD is purely cartoonoriented, Bhingare said.
“He referenced various incidents from the early part of his career as a cartoonist with the Free Press Journal. He also suggested that portraying the subject’s physical disability in a cartoon should be avoided,” he added.
“The exhibition was extremely successful as it was inaugurated by the late Shrikant Thackeray on December 29, 1994. Over 70 popular cartoonists like S D Phadnis, Vijay and Mangesh Tendulkar, Vikas Sabnis, Vasant Sarote, Charuhas Pandit, Sanjay Mistri had participated.
The great Mario Miranda also attended with his favourite cartoons of Indian leaders,” Bhingare smiled.
Now, Bhingare wants to hold another cartoon exhibition in February 2013 in Thackeray’s memory at which he plans to play the CD as well. “Balasaheb not only honoured me, but showed how passionate he could be if there is an artist conc e r n e d , ” he said.