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Saturday, February 26, 2011
Our dear Uncle Pai
How are u all?? It has been a while since I contributed to this page. Have been busy with mundane things. But yesterday I read somewhere the news about the passing away of Anant Pai, founder of Indian comics, especially Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle.
Mr Anant Pai who worked with Times of India for sometime during 1960s found out that in a quiz competition children answered questions about Greek mythology, but failed to answer questions on Indian mythology. He quit the Times of India and along with late G. L. Mirchandani of India Book House he started India Comics. He founded Amar Chitra Katha series of comics giving colour and life to mythological stories, freedom fighters, famous personalities, jataka tales and much more. Compared to many foreign comics, the english used in these comics are simple but with myriad illustrations suiting the story and characters. Even today, a child's bookshelf in any Indian home is not complete without these comics. My reading habit started with an Amar Chitra Katha book 'Sudama'. While the big books can be read only once or twice, these books can be read over and over again with some snacks. Some of us might be well into middle age, but still find delight in reading them. Be it palaces or forests in Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Buddhist tales, Krishna's Gokul, Vrindavan, palaces of Dwaraka, we all have pictures etched in our mind. Really, a picture is worth a thousand words!
Another landmark in his career is the invention of TINKLE in 1980s and it is a magazine all encompassed into one. I do not want to go in length about this hugely popular magazine. The lucky hunter Shikari Shambu (whom we have not seen the full face), the long-nosed simpleton Suppandi, Anwar the mischief like Dennis the menace, Kapish monkey, the ever-plotting Tantri the mantri, Kalia the helpful crow, are to name a few characters immortalised. He made TINKLE more interactive by encouraging a lot of readers' contributions.
He travelled length and breadth of the country interacting with lots of children. He was affectionately addressed Uncle Pai by children. He did not have children of his own, but found permanent place in the hearts of children. For the generations of 80s and 90s who have not seen Chacha Nehru, Anant Pai was the real chacha. Our Indian Government failed to recognize his unbending contributions and the civilian awards evaded him going to less deserving people like Saif Ali Khan. But we all know, he is above all these awards.
This is just a suggestion from my side. Why cannot we celebrate Uncle Pai's birthday as Indian comics day?
Chacha Pai, we love you forever.