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Illustrating India

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My friend Nishes Sinha was Principal of DPS ,Vadodara.He organised an art competition cum conclave and wanted me to find out a right person to inaugurate.I called Jagdish Joshi and he gladly agreed.In fact, he didn’t charge any professional fee for the purpose as working with children was a big attraction for him.

By Manas Ranjan Mahapatra

I was speaking to Rabindra Kumar Panda, publisher of Sachitra Vijaya of which I am the Guest Editor now,on illustrations for the next issue. Indian books and magazines need a lot of improvement in illustration and design at present as illustrators like Jagdish Joshi are not available these days.The only surviving good illustrator cum designer of international standard is Atanu Roy.


I knew Jagdish Joshi by name as I was a regular reader of NBT books from my school days.In 1991,I translated a children’s book 'Khoja aur Pehchano'( Search ) published by NBT during my early days as an Editor of which he was the illustrator and spoke to him to find out what he  wants to communicate in the  visual language(Chitra Bhasha) as the text was prepared based on the illustration.This was a deviation from the normal procedure followed by publishers that text is prepared first and illustration happens on the basis of the text.The book was more or less a picture book with very little text and must have been sold in crores by now.Jagdish Joshi himself prepared many picture books based on his own text a number of times for several eminent publishers.

The first prominent illustrator I met in Delhi was Mickey Patel.Jagdish Joshi was the second one follwed by Pulak Biswas and Atanu Roy.

Soon we met in various meetings and places including the room of Jyotish Duttagupta,the then Joint Director( Development )of NBT who himself was a prominent illustrator.Many  eminent people  like Ramesh Buxi ,the great Hindi author,were working in NBT those days.Jagdish Joshi was a fluent Bangla speaker as he studied Art at Calcutta.

Many prominent authors and artists including Jagdish Joshi used to visit NBT regularly when the office was at Green Park.Shifting of NBT Office to Vasant Kunj created problems for many of them who did not have their own conveyance as getting public transport to Vasant Kunj office of NBT was not easy.

But Jagdish Joshi used to come to NCCL  to call on me to gossip and for meeting Debu Sarkar,Chief Artist of NBT,himself a well known illustrator.While returning home at Munirka,I used to arrange transport for him.He used to invite me for a drink at his place any evening,but I  was not able to go as I was going by a pool transport to my place at Sahibabad.

I was associated with Pratham Books from its inception.There was a gentleman called Ranajit in the organisation who was a regular visitor to NCCL.We planned to do a workshop for street children at Allahabad and Jagdish Joshi was the expert for illustration.Amar Goswami was the expert for text.In the evening we had a whisky session.Amar Goswami shared their experience as they once worked for years at Allahabad in Mitra Prakashan.

My friend Nishes Sinha was Principal of DPS ,Vadodara.He organised an art competition cum conclave and wanted me to find out a right person to inaugurate.I called Jagdish Joshi and he gladly agreed.In fact, he didn’t charge any professional fee for the purpose as working with children was a big attraction for him.

I have many sweet memories of interacting with the Golden Trio of Book Illustration in India.....Pulak Biswas,Mickey Patel and Jagdish Joshi.Among these,Jagdish Joshi was so close to me,elder by almost three decades,but young in heart  as I,thus he became a dear friend.I was the first viewer of many of his dummies of picture books.I met him on a few occasions after I left Delhi to join NEC at Shillong,but could not see him when he passed away.Atanu Da gave the bad news of Jagdish Joshi's death one morning.

Now I have enough time to go to Jagdish Joshi and meet him at Munirka.Alas,he is not there !

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