CARTOONIST

As a child, Aabid Surti began drawing by copying cartoons from scraps of comic pages left by British troops passing through Bombay port during the Second World War.

Though he later created many local characters for newspapers in his youth, he developed his most successful character only after his marriage – the innocent yet shrewd simpleton Dabbuji. The weekly comic strip looked at the nuances of marriage and relationships.

At its peak, the weekly cartoon strip touched a circulation of more than four lakh copies and enjoyed a huge fan following which included former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, singer Asha Bhonsale and Osho, who often recounted Dabbuji jokes during his early Hindi discourses.

It was one of the longest running Indian comic strips, enjoying an unbroken run for more than 30 years in the Hindi literary weekly “Dharmayug”. At times, the popularity of this comic character often eclipsed Aabid’s fame as a serious painter and author!

Another comic book character created by Aabid, which enjoyed a huge popularity was Bahadur. Bahadur was the son of a bandit who helped the dacoit-ridden villages to set up their own self-defence system. Bahadur is currently under negotiation for a full-length Bollywood feature film.

Other memorable characters developed by him include Inspector Azaad, Inspector Vikram and Shuja.