The Kozhikode-based artist is chasing a world record with what is, perhaps, the longest political cartoon strip known to Indians
A cartoon book that is 400 metres long, features 800 different frames and weighs 75 kilograms — this is what M Dileef spent six months of lockdown to produce. Dileef recently launched his magnum opus named I Can’t Breathe at an exhibition in Kozhikode, Kerala in a bid to set a Guinness World Record. “I glued drawing papers together to get the required length. I then folded it to make a book and put it inside a wooden box. It was a great experience and I am waiting to get the certificate from officials,” he says.
I Can’t Breathe touches upon issues of the common man in a series of political cartoons. Featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as main characters, the cartoon book calls to attention headline-grabbing issues of the recent past, including demonetisation, NRC, UAPA and the Farm Bills 2020. “I have followed news carefully to have a clear understanding of the matters, and have also taken care to be unbiased while presenting the issues,” says Dileef, adding that it was a back-breaking task.“It was not the drawing part that was tough. My working hours were long. I took a break only for food. I got blisters on my hand after holding my pen continuously for long hours,” he remarks. Dileef is now working on a colour scheme for the cartoon book and also has plans to exhibit it in Sharjah, UAE in November.He believes that humour and criticism employed in political cartoons is a powerful tool. “It is a simple art form that everyone can understand,” says the cartoonist, adding, “I was inspired by the works of artist Ajit Nainan [to take up this profession]. They made me realise the power of this medium.” Dileef is no stranger to such World Record attempts; his first was in 2014, when he set the record for the biggest badminton racquet installation in Kozhikode. “I made it with wood, iron and plastic thread,” he says. He also made a handwritten copy of the Quran that took him three years to complete; his work found a mention in the Arabian World Records. “It was one kilometre long,” he says, adding, “Such records help us artists take our work to a global audience.”
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