Uncle Pai’s Amar Chitra Katha

4

Remember that time when there was no facebook or mobile phone to keep you engaged and all you had was Doordarshan? You shouldn’t really pity yourself for the lack of entertainment sources back then, because had it not been for Doordarshan, you wouldn’t have got those Amar Chitra Katha comics either.

Anant Pai , the Father of Indian comics, popularly known as Uncle Pai, founded Amar Chitra Katha in 1967, after watching a quiz contest aired on Doordarshan in February 1967, in which participants could easily answer questions pertaining to Greek mythology, but were unable to reply to the question “In the Ramayana, who was Rama’s mother?”

At first, Amar Chitra Katha struggled to find a market.  Schools would not buy its publications because they considered comic books frivolous, and stores would not stock them because they were not associated with an established brand. Mr. Pai and Mr. Rao, a former teacher who joined the enterprise in 1976, persuaded a school in Delhi to run an experiment in which one group of students was taught history using his comic books and other using traditional methods. Later, both groups were given the same test. The results showed that those who had studied using the comics learned more than those who did not. The journey of Amar Chitra Katha began thereafter.

In 1980, Mr. Pai launched Tinkle, India’s first comic and cartoon syndicate.

Details:

Born in Karkala, Karnataka to Venkataraya and Susheela Pai, Mr. Pai lost his parents at the age of two. At the age of twelve, he came to Mumbai, where he studied in Orient School, Mahim. He studied chemistry, physics and chemical technology at the University of Bombay Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT now UICT) and was a dual degree holder from the University of Bombay.

Endowed with a passion for publishing and comics, his failed attempt at creating a children’s magazine (Manav, 1954) was followed by a career as a junior executive in the Times of India books division, putting him in the thick of affairs when Indrajal comics was launched by the Times Group that brought American comics like The Phantom and Mandrake to India. But he was dissatisfied with the job because it involved publishing imported stories.

He left his job and started Amar Chitra Katha in 1967, with the help of late G. L. Mirchandani of India Book House, when most other publishers from Allied Publishers to Jaico had rejected the concept. Later, he took on the role of writer, editor and publisher. The series went on to become a publishing milestone for the Indian comic book scene, selling over 86 million copies of about 440 titles.

In 1969, Anant Pai founded Rang Rekha Features, India’s first comic and cartoon syndicate, and started the children’s magazine Tinkle in 1980. His involvement with the above and the rapport he shared with his readers earned him the title “Uncle Pai”.

Ramu and Shamu, Kapish, Little Raji, Rekha, Fact Fantasy, Funland and Funtime are some of the comic strips created by Pai, most of which continue to appear in newspapers and magazines. He has written and produced two video films, Ekam Sat (the Vedic Concept of God) and The Secret of Success, in English and Hindi.

Pai’s other works include a number of books on personality development for children and teenagers, (“How To Develop Self-confidence”, “How to Achieve Success”, “How To Develop A Super Memory”, UBS Publishers) and a series of audio book versions of Amar Chitra Katha stories, “Storytime with Uncle Pai” (Universal Music India, Dec 2001), where he plays the role of narrator-storyteller.

A vegetarian teetotaler, Mr. Pai in many ways lived the life of the ascetics depicted in some of his comics. He went to sleep every night at 9 and rose at 3:30 a.m. to start working after having a cup of tea. Even after his comic books started selling millions of copies, he and his wife stayed in a modest two-bedroom apartment in central Mumbai. He received several awards in his life time.

In 2007, the publishing company that owned Amar Chitra Katha sold it to Samir Patil and Shripal Morakhia, who have been building on the comics business by investing in TV shows and movies. Mr. Pai stayed on as chief storyteller.

Mr.Pai suffered from a massive heart attack on 24th February 2011 early in the morning. He died later that day around 5 PM.

Though he isn’t among us any more, Anant Pai continues to live with his contribution to storytelling. May his soul rest in peace.

Sources:

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/article1487249.ece

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/01/world/asia/01pai.html

Share.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Remembering Anant Pai, The Storyteller Who Created Amar Chitra Katha

  2. Pingback: Remembering Anant Pai, The Storyteller Who Created Amar Chitra Katha | Hellas Zone

  3. Thanks for sharing for this info, it may be helpful for a person to use it for composing some article,
    for instance. I especially need to note your ability to express data in an accessible way.
    As a popular-science blogger, I need to be certain of every element of
    my writing to satisfy inquiring heads with quality
    information and keep their interest until the close of
    the report. You made me see it until the end

Leave A Reply