Mario Miranda is never far when in Goa.
I have visited Goa off and on, sometimes for work, sometimes for pleasure before destiny made it my home. It was when I was here for 2 days as part Deccan Odyssey journey that I got to see some new aspects of the state like Mangeshi Temple and Sahakari Spice farm that I had not visited earlier. I also got to see the mundane Goa as a tourist, its vegetable markets, and various railway stations as we boarded and alighted from the train.
I could see a stamp of him almost everywhere I walked around in the state. He is Goa’s famous son of the soil cartoonist. Pay a bit of attention to his murals and you would realize his legacy.
Who is Mario Miranda?
A legendary Cartoonist from Goa. He was born in Daman. Mario studied in Bangalore and Mumbai and worked around the world. Imagine the language barrier he would have faced as a Portuguese and Konkani speaker in a country that spoke English and many native languages. Being born to Bhatkar or Landlord family from Loutolim, he was always a cherished Goan. He did live his post-retirement years in the state at his ancestral village in Loutolim.
Born in 1926, when both Daman and Goa were Portuguese territories, Mario Miranda was never trained as an artist. But then, can that ever be a constraint for a born artist? He started sketching what he saw around him. Incidentally, his first subjects for cartooning were the Catholic priests of Goa. Soon, people started enjoying his cartoons in leading newspapers like The Times of India. His cartoons were signed as MARIO.
Mario de Miranda was awarded Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1988 and 2002 respectively for his contribution to the field of art. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan posthumously in 2012.
In his later years, he painted as well. He also collaborated with writers to author a few books. He died in 2011 while still working on his books.
Favorite Themes of Mario Miranda
Everyday life inspired the artist in him the most. He has done a series of cartoons inspired by almost all the cities he lived in or some that he was invited to.
His favorite scenes were that of the local Taverna – that I believe he considered an important spot in the villages around. He has sketched a lot of market scenes, capturing the hustle, bustle, and chaos of the local markets. When I look at some of his market scenes, I feel I can hear the sounds and sense the humid smells of Goan markets. As someone who moved to the state just 4 years back, I can say that my first images of the state were as they were depicted in Mario’s Cartoons. Can we say that he presented Goa to the rest of the world through his work?
In Mumbai, he captured life on the streets of Mumbai. He is best known for capturing the small details that most of us tend to miss or overlook. Some of the characters he created for his cartoons included a Bollywood heroine called Ms. Rajani Nimbupani, an office secretary called Ms. Fonseca. Khushwant Singh depicted as a Sardar Ji inside a light bulb was also his creation. It became the image I associated with Khushwant Singh for a long time. I think it first came in Illustrated Weekly of India which Singh edited.
In his freelance days, he did illustrations for galleries, restaurants, book covers, and just about what came his way. No wonder his works find canvas in so many places even today.
His works find resonance with the works of another great cartoonist R. K. Laxman who is best known for his common man depiction. The two actually worked together for some time.
It is interesting that he never did many political cartoons as most popular cartoonists like to do. However, no one can compete with Mario when it comes to documenting the social life of the places he lived in through his work.
Cartoons as Wall Murals
You cannot miss the wall murals made in typically his style even at the vegetable and fish market in Panaji. The fruit and fish sellers as seen by him are immortalized on the walls.
At the Madgaon Railway station walls, there were some trains of thoughts that leave you thinking about this city.
The state government tourism department is tuned in too with the theme…
I am not sure how many of these are original. And how many are inspired by his work? It is good to see a city celebrating its people, and its art forms. It is like being inspired by the inside.
I think his biggest contribution is to inspire the generations of cartoonists who follow in his footsteps and adapt his style in their works.
Mario Miranda Galleries
Goan architect Gerard da Cunha had collaborated with him on various projects and he now runs the Galleries in his name across Goa. However, let me tell you that these galleries are more like shops selling the artist’s work – both original and reproduced. It is not a display space for the best of his works.
His cartoons and sketches can now be purchased on various merchandise. There are galleries across the state and even one in Mumbai where you can buy prints of his work.
You can buy his works on Maps, T-shirts, Scarves, Bowls, Fridge Magnets, keychains, cushion covers, gift paper, or just plain simple porcelain tiles. My favorite is the works that are replicated on Azulejos Tiles in Black & White or with Colors.
In the state, Galleries in his name are at Panaji, Margao, Porvorim, Calangute & Carmona. You can find some of his works at almost every souvenir shop in the state. You can also buy his products online.
Read More – 20 Top Goa Souvenirs to Buy
Update: Now that I live in Goa, I see more of his works in the state. One good place to see his works and his evolution as a cartoonist is the Gallery at Reis Magos Fort across the Mandovi river from Panaji.
Houses of Goa Museum has a lovely collection of his works depicting the architecture of the state.
See some of his famous works in this BBC Article on him.
Recommended you read the following posts on Places to visit in Goa.