Mario and his muse, Goa

My fascination with Mario de Miranda’s caricatures began when I was about 6 years old. I still fondly (and vividly!) remember the adventures of Nitin, Hassan and Leena, the colourful characters Mario brought to life in my Grade 1 English textbook. Those cheery illustrations made learning so much fun!

In the years that followed, I savoured his witty cartoons in newspapers and magazines. His inimitable black ink sketches with buxom women and potbellied men, would make me chuckle every single time.

Mario was (and in my opinion, still is) one of India’s most loved cartoonists. Self-taught, insanely detail-oriented and delightfully cheeky, his cartoons regaled the country for decades. His larger-than-life wall art at Café Mondegar in Bombay (now Mumbai), still stares down on visitors to this day.

His art imitated his life. Goa was his muse. He was born there, grew up in his ancestral home in Loutolim (South Goa) and spent a majority of his retired life there. His cartoons showcased the idyllic Goan life to the rest of India and the world. Today, they are a nostalgic reminder of a Goan lifestyle that has either disappeared or is fast disappearing.

Mario’s passing in 2011 left me wanting to find out more about Mario, the person. Our recent trip to Goa was to pay tribute to this iconic artist.

The drive from Panjim to Loutolim, Mario’s hometown, was picturesque – paddy fields and coconut groves till as afar as the eye can see.

The picturesque drive from Panjim to Loutolim

The scenic drive from Panjim to Loutolim. Guess who made a special appearance! 

When we reached Loutolim, we drove down an unpaved road to reach the 400-year old Casa de Miranda – a stunning mansion constructed in the Indo-Portuguese style. We were happy to admire it from a  distance.

A peek at the 400-year old Casa de Miranda - Mario's ancestral home in Loutolim, Goa

A peek at Casa de Miranda – Mario’s ancestral home in Loutolim, Goa

Would we have knocked on the door had he still been alive? I’m not sure. Mario would have been 89 years old.

We left wondering what his life might have been in Loutolim, far away from the media spotlight and the trappings of city life.

Our next stop on this tribute journey was the Mario Gallery in Porvorim. Here, renowned architect Gerard da Cunha (with the permission of the Miranda family) has converted Mario’s work into a plethora of merchandise, thus keeping his memory alive and giving Mario fans an opportunity to own a piece of his work.

As I walked towards the entrance of the Gallery, there was an overwhelming feeling of stepping into a fairy tale. The reddish-brown, laterite bricks used in the construction of the Gallery give it a gingerbread feel, apt for Mario’s make-believe world of cartoons. Replicas of some of Mario’s creations greet visitors.

Entering the fairy tale world  of Mario Miranda

The dreamy setting of the Mario Miranda gallery in Porvorim, Goa

A close-up of the padeiro (village baker) and batcar (landlord)

Replicas of Mario’s caricatures of the padeiro (village baker) and batcar (landlord)

Mario's sketch of a padiero (the village baker) in his traditional toga and balancing a large basket of freshly baked bread on his head.

Mario’s sketch of a padiero (the village baker) in his traditional toga and balancing a large basket of freshly baked bread on his head. Rarely seen in today’s times*

Mario's sketch of a batcar (a traditional landlord) in his silk striped pyjamas. Again, a disappearing species.

Mario’s sketch of a batcar (the traditional landlord) in his silk striped pyjamas.   Another disappearing species*

A close-up of the local musician

A replica of Mario’s caricature of the local musician

Mario's sketch of the local musician

Mario’s sketch of the local musician*

In the Gallery, t-shirts, mugs, tiles and shot glasses jostle for space alongside Mario’s originals, limited edition prints and books. We spent hours browsing.

The piece de resistance of this trip was the original artwork we were able procure from the Gallery. That was all the closure I needed.

Through his work, Mario will live on forever.

(*From the book ‘Goa with Love’ by Mario Miranda)

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3 Comments

Filed under Asia, India

3 responses to “Mario and his muse, Goa

  1. shivangiparikh

    Love the post! How cool you were able to make this trip 🙂

    I remember leena and nitin… I even tried looking for those textbooks one of my recent trips.lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. skgawarikar@gmail.com

    Next time I visit Goa I must see this place.

    Liked by 1 person

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