Cartoonist and Padma Shri awardee Narayan Debnath dies at 97
Noted cartoonist and Padma Shri awardee Narayan Debnath created the legendary characters like Handa Bhonda, Bantul the Great and Nonte Phonte.
Noted cartoonist and Padma Shri awardee Narayan Debnath passed away on the morning of Tuesday, 18 January, at the age of 97. He was undergoing treatment for a prolonged illness at a Kolkata hospital.
The noted cartoonist, illustrator and litterateur was admitted to the hospital on 24 December due to age-related ailments. Debnath was the creator of legendary characters such as Handa Bhonda, Bantul the Great and Nonte Phonte.
Several people including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed their grief at Debnath’s demise. Banerjee took to Twitter to express her condolences and stated that Debanth’s demise was “an immeasurable loss to the world of literary creativity and comics.”
We were proud to bestow upon him Bengal’s highest award Banga Bibhusan in 2013. His passing away is certainly an immeasurable loss to the world of literary creativity and comics.
My deepest condolences to his family, friends, readers and countless fans and followers.
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) January 18, 2022
West Bengal Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari wrote that the eminent cartoonist’s legacy will “always be cherished by children and grown ups alike”.
Legendary cartoonist Narayan Debnath; creator of immortal fictional characters like 'Batul the Great', 'Handa Bhonda' & 'Nante Fante' has passed away. His legacy will always be cherished by children and grown ups alike. Condolences to family and countless admirers. Om Shanti 🙏🏻 — Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) January 18, 2022
Debnath was handed over the Padma Shri citation and medal by West Bengal Home Secretary B P Gopalika and State Cooperative Minister Aroop Roy recently. The honour was bestowed by the Centre in January 2021.
According to News18, Debnath was the only comic artist in the country to have obtained a DLitt degree. The creator of iconic characters such as Bantul the Great and Nonte Phonte, the 97-year-old remained had acquired a cult status due his comic strips.
Handa Bhonda, for example, has been in circulation since 1962 for the children’s magazine Shuktara. Along with Nonte Phonte, the strip aimed to capture the life of simple characters. Bantul the Great, which featured the titular character having immense power, was created during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Born in Howrah, West Bengal, Debanth spent most of his early years there. He worked with advertising agencies as a freelancer before being introduced to the publishing house Deb Sahitya Kur. From 1962, he began his journey as a cartoonist with the first Handa-Bhonda comic in Shuktara.
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