Kochi: Kerala has produced several noted cartoonists. Many amateur cartoonists who are not known widely also belong to this state. One such artist is bank manager-cum-illustrator A Satheesh Kumar. He has over 2,000 cartoon strips to his credit even as he has the responsibility as the chief manager of State Bank of India's Liability Central Processing Centre (LCPC) in Kochi.
Satheesh nurses an innate passion for drawing cartoons even though he is intersted in painting and acting as well.
Satheesh inherits the rich creative lineage from his father Sreevarahom Achuthan Nair, a versatile theatre artist who had won the state awards for the best actor and director a number of times.
Ever since his childhood Satheesh had been seeing people designing theatrical scenes and get training in staging plays. So no wonder at the age of 12 little Satheesh drew a Taj Mahal on a white cloth for the veteran dramatist Jagathi N K Achari’s play ‘Taj Mahal athava Rajasilpi’. Since then he made his strong presence felt in theatre by setting the backdrop of a palace or hut or forest or meadow to suit the context of scenes being enacted.
Satheesh was not someone who left his artistic musings to rust once he got a new job. He was active as a painter and designer for theatrical performances.
He tried his hands in cartoons after a friend who was impressed with his paintings asked him. The earliest comical strips won the appreciation of many, including Lalithakala Akademi executive member Karakkamandapam Vijayakumar who said the works were worthy to be published. They were featured in a magazine fetching him a remuneration of Rs 25. Later on he drew the funny strips for a couple of publications.
In 2002, Satheesh got the opportunity to draw regular cartoon strips in the business page of an English newspaper.
The bank officer was honoured at the All-India Cartoon Contest conducted by the Hindustan Times in 1995, and was presented the Millenium Award of the SBT.
So how does Satheesh balance art and profession successfully in the midst of a hectic banking career? "In those days I was not a bank manager. I was into painting, poster writing and acting. One day trade union leader K G James had asked me to design a banner which proved to be a turning point in my life. Unfortunately I could not meet the deadline. On hearing my silly excuse of not getting time, James corrected me with a thought-provoking statement that “it was not because of lack of time but due to lack of finding time that you could not design the banner’,” Satheesh said.
Since then Satheesh always made it a point to dedicate 2 hours daily to brush up his artistic skills.
Despite being active as an artist he never compromised on his banking profession, which is why he had won accolades on numerous occasions for excelling in career.
Satheesh was adjudged the ‘Kalaprathibha’ nine times at the national-level Bank Fest of the SBI. His cartoons were featured in several national dailies as the ads of SBI. Through his live caricature shows, the bank manager has also made his strong presence felt at numerous international fairs, including Krithi Book Fair of the state government. The caricatures are also noted for their captions written in his own hallmark handwriting.
Satheesh’s family comprises wife Jayashree and son Arjun who is an officer with the Union Bank of India. Saraswathy Amma is his mother.