Balasaheb Thackeray: Beyond the Leader

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Hello everyone! Today, we are going to talk about one of the most polarizing figures in Indian history, and shed light on a part of his career not known to many. Yes, we’re talking about Balasaheb Thackeray, but before he turned towards politics, he was an accomplished cartoonist.

Bal Keshav Thackeray, popularly known as ‘Balasaheb Thackeray’ was born in Pune on 23 January 1926 to Ramabai and Keshav Sitaram Thackeray (also known as ‘Prabodhankar’). He was the eldest of nine siblings, and his family belonged to the Marathi Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu. Keshav Thackeray was a social activist and writer who was involved in the ‘Samyukta Maharashtra’ Movement of the 1950s, which argued for the creation of a unified state called Maharashtra for Marathi-speaking areas with Mumbai as its capital. Bal Thackeray was inspired by his father’s political philosophy.

Thackeray was a man of many talents, one of them being a cartoonist. He started his career with the Free Press Journal, but quit the paper in 1960 to form his own political weekly named Maarmik.

His political philosophy was largely shaped by his father Keshav S Thackeray, a leading figure in the ‘Samyukta Maharashtra’ movement, which advocated the creation of a separate linguistic state for Marathi speakers. Through Marmik, Bal Thackeray campaigned against the growing influence of non-Marathis in Mumbai.

His cartoons served to his campaigns against the rising number of non-Marathi people in Mumbai. Vigilant on his side, he depicted all of it through intricate illustrations. Apart from that, his works reflected and highlighted the rise of poverty and price-rise and even critical issues like riots and then growing arms distribution throughout the country. The cartoon maestro passed away in the year 2012.

Political career aside, Balasaheb Thackeray will always be remembered as a talented cartoonist and a brilliant comic book artist.

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