An exhibition honors the memory of cartoonist Anirban Bora

His cartoons transform the banal into magic. Such was his talent that with a few strokes of the brush, he could make his art extraordinary.

Anirban Bora, a much-loved cartoonist and illustrator who succumbed to Covid-19 last year, left a huge legacy. ‘The World of Anirban Bora’, an exhibition at the Indian Cartoon Gallery on MG Road in Bangalore, gives us a glimpse into his creative world. No fewer than 90 works by Bora, including 12 caricatures and 10 food-themed works, are displayed in the exhibition. The exhibition continues until May 28.

Bora’s work featuring a night market in Bangkok caught my eye. Bora loved night walks, recalls his wife Sirattiya Bora. A foodie at heart, Bora explored local flavors and found ideas for his art on his culinary travels.

He worked like a man possessed during the pandemic. One of the works in his series entitled “Borialis” depicts a man pedaling a bicycle whose wheels resemble the coronavirus. Another work from the same series depicts Mamata Banerjee popping a pill. Cartoons that deal with issues such as homebound children during the pandemic and how it affects their mental health, and the migrant worker crisis are also part of the exhibit.

VG Narendra, Managing Director of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists is a big fan of Bora. ”I absolutely loved his cartoons published in The economic period‘, Narendra said. “He was a down-to-earth man with extraordinary talent,” he recalls. As a cartoonist and illustrator, Bora stands out from the crowd. He found his own unique style, adds Narendra, a cartoonist himself trained by Shankar.

A former student of the London School of Communication, Bora had worked with The economic period and The Indian Express. Being in the media industry made him more aware of social and political realities. When onion prices reached 100 rupees per kg, he responded with a powerful cartoon. Bora believed that art could be an agent of change in many ways. A cartoon depicting Modi practicing Singhasan and asking Baba Ramdev for feedback makes you laugh and think.

Bora shared a deep connection with Kolkata where he was born. Flooding in Kolkata is a recurring theme in his works. A TV reporter in a flooded car asking a man neck deep in water where can you find the cheapest Sandesh in Kolkata makes you laugh out loud.

Mario Miranda’s influence on his cartoons is almost palpable. Like Mario, Bora enjoyed depicting crowded cityscapes. He created the magic by animating buses or double-decker cars with a few extra lines and a splash of color.

Indica GastronomicaBora’s chronicle on food that appeared in The economic period was extremely popular. In one issue, he introduced Goan cuisine which is “tiered, just like the famous Bebinca”. A foodie, he offered a virtual feast for foodies, with tantalizing descriptions and illustrations of vindaloo, palm toddy and crab curry. It also contained a spicy note on chilli, the Portuguese’s most significant contribution to Indian culinary history.

Sirattiya misses Bora very much. The 45-year-old who was an art teacher in Thailand met Bora on Yahoo Messenger in an art chat room. They dated for five years before taking the plunge.

Sirattiya, a Thai home chef, is now on a mission to preserve the memories of the 42-year-old artist who died too young.

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