Miranda had been a regular with The Times of India and other newspapers in Mumbai, including The Economic Times, though he got his popularity with his works published in The Illustrated Weekly of India. He was awarded Padma Vibhushan in 2012.
Miranda was born in Daman, then in Portuguese India, to Goan Catholic parents. At an early age when his mother saw him drawing his home walls, she brought him a blank book, which he calls his “Diary”. He even started getting into trouble at school, for sketching Catholic priests. Mario Miranda’s early cartoons presented vignettes of Goan village life, a theme he is best known for even today.
Education and early cartooning
He studied at St. Joseph’s Boys’ High School, Bangalore and then did a B.A. in History at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, while focusing on the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Thereafter he started studying architecture at the behest of his parents, though he soon lost interest.Meanwhile his talent was noticed and his friends encouraged him to make postcards and draw for them, which earned him extra pocket money.
Miranda started his career in an advertising studio, where he worked for four years, before taking up cartooning full-time. He got his first break as a cartoonist with The Illustrated Weekly of India which published a few of his works. His drawings & cartoons also brought him an offer to work at the Current magazine. A year later, the Times of India offered him a slot, even though they had rejected him at first. Thereafter, his creations, such as Miss Nimbupani and Miss Fonseca, appeared on a regular basis in Femina, Economic Times, and The Illustrated Weekly of India.
Miranda was offered the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian Scholarship, which enabled him to travel to and stay a year in Portugal and this time in Portugal, according to Miranda, helped him to broaden his horizons. After a year in Portugal, Miranda travelled to London, England and was to spend five years there, learning as well as doing jobs for newspapers and even worked in television animation, at Independent Television.
Miranda’s cartoons were featured in the Lilliput, Mad (once), and Punch (twice) magazines. This supplemented his finances, and enabled him to travel around Europe, interacting with other cartoonists, gaining considerable knowledge and exposure. This led to his meeting of Sir Ronald Searle, whom Miranda considered his mentor.
Return to Mumbai
After five years in England, Miranda returned to Mumbai and was offered back his old job with the Times of India, where he worked with noted cartoonist, R.K. Laxman.Thereafter, Miranda met artist Habiba Hydari. They got married and had two sons, Raul and Rishaad.
Recognition and fame
Miranda’s big break came in 1974, when, at the invitation of the United States Information Services, he travelled to America, which enabled him to promote his art and interact with other cartoonists in the United States and also got a chance to work with Charles M. Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, and met Herblock, the editorial cartoonist of the Washington Post.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1988, the Padma Bhushan in 2002 and All India Cartoonists’s Association, Bangalore, honoured him with a lifetime achievement award.The King of Spain, Juan Carlos, conferred on Mario the highest civilian honour of “Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic” which was presented to him on 11 November 2009 at his family home in Loutulim by Don Miguel Nieto Sandoval and on 29 December 2009 Portugal, under the President of the Republic Aníbal António Cavaco Silva, made him “Commander of the Order of Prince Henry”, a Portuguese National Order of knighthood. Mario Miranda was posthumously awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in the Republic of India, by the President on 4 April 2012.
He has held solo exhibitions in over 22 countries, including the United States, Japan, Brazil, Australia, Singapore, France, Yugoslavia, and Portugal.Miranda’s cartoons grace the walls of one of South Mumbai’s most famous hotspots, Cafe Mondegar, in Colaba.Miranda is also featured in the “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” video, which included a host of India’s most notable personalities in arts, films, literature, music, and sports.
Mural in Café Mondegar
In 1990s, Rushi Yazdegardi (then owner) asked Mario Miranda to draw murals (cartoons) on two opposite walls of Café Mondegar. Both walls have different themes. Whilst one wall is dedicated to the Life in Mumbai, the other wall is dedicated to Atmosphere in the Café.
Besides cartooning, Miranda’s murals are present on various buildings in Goa and other parts of India. Late in life he took to paintings which received wide response.Over the years, he published several books, including Laugh it Off, Goa with Love, and Germany in Wintertime.
Besides his own books, he illustrated books by Dom Moraes (A Journey to Goa), Manohar Malgaonkar (Inside Goa) and Mario Cabral e Sá’s (Legends of Goa). He also illustrated many children’s books, including Dul-Dul, The Magic Clay Horse (1968), The Adventures of Pilla the Pup (1969), and Lumbdoom, The Long-Tailed Langoor (1968), all written by Uma Anand and published by IBH Publishing Company, Bombay, under its Echo imprint.
He loved to travel and listening to music and it was his ambition to experiment further with water colours and to write memories of his early years in Goa, on retirement. He was not able to fulfil these two latter ambitions.
Later years and death
After retirement, Miranda lived in his ancestral home, at Loutolim, a village in Salcete, Goa, with his wife, younger son and their pets. This house features in the 1985 Shyam Benegal film, Trikaal. Even after he retired, Miranda’s work was seen regularly in Mumbai publications, and he was invited to travel to countries such as Mauritius and Spain, and draw their local cultures.
On 11 December 2011, Mario Miranda died of natural causes at his home in Loutolim.His funeral was held on 12/12/11 at Loutulim Saviour of the World Church, where the family choir of Miguel Cotta, rendered for the first time Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of Pie Jesu. Mario’s body was then taken to the Hindu Crematorium in Pagifond, Margao, where he was cremated, thus fulfilling his wish, according to his wife.
Miranda was awarded a posthumous Padma Vibhushan in 2012.Indian cartoonist Graphi and fine artist, Vijay N Seth (Vins) paid tribute to Miranda, whom he considered as a mentor:
With pen & ink that were at his command to churn out lines that every nib would be jealous of, he brushed aside the old school of cartooning using the brush, and set a new norm to use the nib pen and to master it for this branch of art. Mario created characters that gave his daily audience their quota of a smile without malice. His trips around the globe produced subtle close observations of the local musings – a fitting example of how far can one stretch the parameters of this branch of neglected art.
In 2013, a road junction in Mumbai was named after Miranda.On May 2, 2016 Google honoured him with a doodle, as it was his 90th birth anniversary. The doodle showcased a typical Mumbai neighbourhood scene during the rains.