shri: Bantul Creator Receives Padma Shri In Hosp Bed | Kolkata News

Kolkata: Almost a year after his name was announced as a Padma Shri recipient, the country’s oldest cartoonist, Narayan Debnath, was finally presented with the honors at Belle Vue Clinic on Thursday afternoon. The honor was presented to MLA author and illustrator Arup Ray, in his 90s, and Bengal’s Additional Chief Principal Secretary, BP Gopalika.
The 96-year-old was hospitalized on December 24 and is currently receiving support from Ventibipap. Debnath had to be hospitalized for acute weakness followed by low hemoglobin.
For over 70 years, Debnath has created pioneering Bengali comic strips including Bantul the Great, Nante Fante and Handa Bhonda. He holds the record for longest running comic by a single artist for the series Handa Bhonda and is the first and only Indian comic artist to receive a DLitt degree.
Last January, Debnath was hospitalized shortly after the Padma Shri Awards were announced. As he sat in his hospital bed on January 30, 2021, he had drawn a sketch of his famous cartoon character, Bantul. It hadn’t taken long for the video in which he drew Bantul to go viral.
According to granddaughter Alicia Debnath, this may have been the last time he drew a cartoon. Debnath had been released and taken home. But his health began to deteriorate last July.
“He had kidney problems and suffered from sodium-potassium imbalance and had to be on heavy medication. Dadu, who used to watch TV or chat with us, was mostly bedridden,” she said.
On Thursday, she was present at the hospital when the honor was bestowed on him. “In the meantime the governor of Bengal had come home and greeted him. My grandfather is usually very reserved. When I asked him how he felt when his name was announced as a Padma Shri recipient, he said bhalo legechhe. Dadu was honored. He really had been waiting for the price to reach him. Dadu even asked me: “Koi tor Padma Shri? Kobe Ashbe?’ (Where is your Padma Shri? When will it come?)” she said.
The Padma Shri finally arrived when his condition was “quite serious”. “Thursday happens to be the 21st day of his hospitalization and the third day he is on Ventibipap. This is certainly not a good time to give him an award,” she said.
When asked if the pandemic had affected the life of the 90-year-old, she said: “No. We didn’t allow anyone to meet him when he was at home. He sometimes asked us if people still wear masks.”


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