Cartoons should get people thinking

March 2006 -

Indian cartoonist Sharad Sharma on the controversial Danish cartoons.

In the past, we have indulged in lengthy discussions about controversial films, books and cartoons. More so, if we talk in the South-Asian context, where there has been no dearth of such controversies. Rising from a few lines in a book or a particular scene in a film, these controversies have changed the future of that particular book or film. Gaining adverse but publicity nonetheless, books have become best-sellers and films block busters. In many cases, the creators have intentionally gone ahead to create controversies regarding their work.

I came across several websites and blogs related to the recent controversy on cartoons. The Danish cartoons have triggered off interesting discussions and comments from all over the world. I am, personally, convinced by a comment which says only two out of the ten cartoons are thought-provoking and funny though controversial at the same time.

Being a cartoonist myself, I believe in sensitivity of the issue first. Cartoons should be thought-provoking and not necessarily make-you-laugh all the time. A cartoon might leave a smile on your face or sometimes compel you to come forward and speak.

So when it comes to the Danish cartoons and caricatures, I believe they mostly don't fit in the above frame. Most of them reveal the limitations of the creator's imagination. Cartoons are not necessarily good art work. What makes a cartoonist different is his editorial and analytical power. A cartoonist who only 'draws well' can kill an idea and turn things into a mess. Cartoonists are self-editors of their own work and equally responsible as newspaper's editors.