Political cartoonist from Chennai shares his journey

Senthil Kumar

“After being a cartoonist for over two decades, what I learnt is, ‘Life is not a bed of roses’. To chase your dream in a society that does not support your job is not easy. Yet, I did it, and I am proud of being popular among 90s children,” says Senthil Kumar, a resident of Mangadu who is a caricature artist.

Popularly known as Pillai, the cartoonist has done several series in Tamil children’s magazines, such as Siruvar Malar, Siruvar Mani, Chutti Vikatan and many more. He has also worked with Baakya and Kumutham.

Currently, the 49-year-old artist is a political cartoonist in Kalki and was recently honoured by the Artists’ Group Association in Madanandapuram.

In an interaction with News Today, Senthil shares about his journey, challenges and many more. “Cartooning or sketching was not my cup of tea when I was young. In fact, I was maintaining a poultry farm before I stepped into this. Driven to do something innovative, I came to Chennai, and my friends introduced me to the world of caricatures. Since I had to learn the art from scratch, it was tough initially. Some of my works were even rejected. But with proper training and practice, I improved and everything started falling into place,” smiles Senthil recalling his past.


For every artist, the first recognition is special. For Senthil, it was extra special as his was published during the launch of Chutti Vikatan on 14 November 1999, and, interestingly, it was the day before his marriage. “It was a very proud moment for me to share it with my wife. I can never forget that day,” says the artist.


One of his creations, Chindu Bindu was a popular series in the early 2000s. Other works like Sarvajit Thoppi and Ezham Arivu made him popular among children.


“To be a political cartoonist means to handle a sensational issue in a sensible manner. It should be humourous and at the same time not humiliating. With the current political scenario, I have done a number of caricatures that points out the problems in our State the ‘right’ way,” Senthil explains.


“Like other countries, our government should also promote cartoons. In those days, children never knew what stress was, but today, many children use this word often. This is because, except school syllabus, children are not exploring other things much. Humour should be an essential part of our life and that is brought out effectively in my cartoon series. Parents should encourage their children to read such series and caricatures, but not with their smartphones,” he points out.

In the near future, Senthil is planning to bring out a book and it will depict our culture through cartoons. Ancient temple sketchings and literature works like Sthalapuranam will find their place in his book. “It will be made in such a way that it attracts children’s attention,” he adds.

Senthil Kumar can be reached at 90030 84454.