DCP Bhattacharya — an officer and a cartoonist

The IPS officer from Howrah is a skilled cartoonist, writer and painter

If you ask Dyutiman Bhattacharya whether he is a cartoonist who became a policeman or the other way round, he’ll firmly tell you he’s the former — a cartoonist first.

“Policing is just my job, cartooning is my passion,” Mr. Bhattacharya, 47, an Indian Police Service officer currently serving as a Deputy Commissioner of Police in Howrah, tells The Hindu, when asked how he reconciles the two avatars. “There are surgeons who play the violin — would you ask them the same question?” He then adds, “A policeman is usually at the receiving end of cartoons. I have turned the tables.”

Mr. Bhattacharya — the cartoonist, that is — is a busy man these days. He’s an integral part of the month-long, first-ever Cartoon Mela in Kolkata, hosted by a bookshop called Read Bengali Books in south Kolkata. The festival began on December 5 and is being anchored by the Cartoon Dol, a group of seasoned cartoonists from the city.

Mr. Bhattacharya, who joined the group about a year ago, spends most of his evening these days at the shop, doing live cartooning and interacting with visitors and aspiring cartoonists. Apart from cartoon-based coasters and coffee mugs, the shop also has on sale a 2022 desk calendar that features caricatures done by him.

“The idea is to demonstrate to people that cartoons need not be confined to newspapers. I love doing on-the-spot-caricatures of people I meet. My pet cats and dogs feature in most of my cartoons. I also love doing caricatures of celebrities,” he says.

Mr. Bhattacharya, a post-graduate in geography who did various odd jobs — such as teaching in schools and colleges and also working as a registering officer — before joining the police service, is a self-taught artist whose inspirations include R.K. Laxman, Mario Miranda, and Bud Blake. His got introduced to the world of cartoons through R.K. Laxman, thanks to the serial Malgudi Days on Doordarshan, when he had found himself “mesmerised” by the seasoned strokes.

“I kept changing jobs for bettering my job profile, but I always kept my passions like cartooning, writing and painting alive. I always carry along a small art book and some colours wherever I go. I keep sketching in between tasks. No job is so taxing that one can’t pursue his hobbies,” says Mr. Bhattacharya, who is also an amateur painter — he recently sold all of his 22 works at an exhibition in Howrah — and a novelist and has a column on policing in a reputed Bengali periodical.

When asked whether he found society more intolerant to humour these days, he says, “Yes, the world is passing through a phase of intolerance. But this too shall pass.”

He and the Cartoon Dol — which includes well-known names such as Debasish Deb, Uday Deb, Kallol Majumder, and Rituparno Basu — now plan to institutionalise the Cartoon Mela by making it an annual event and taking it to other towns of West Bengal every alternate year. “Next year we will move to Burdwan, in 2023 return to Kolkata, in 2024 go to another town — that is how we are planning it,” says Mr. Bhattacharya.

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