Anant Pai The End Of A Legend
Anant Pai The End Of A Legend
Affectionately known as Uncle Pai by millions, the creator of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle is immortalised by his work
In the 1980s, Anant Pai, universal uncle for an entire generation or two, caused a scramble among siblings on afternoons when an Amar Chitra Katha or Tinkle was slipped under the door by the magazinewalla.
He helped mothers bribe children into finishing their homework with 'bumper issues' on the 10 avatars of Vishnu or Birbal's tales. He shaped the stereotypes of Rakshasas and Rajput princesses in the minds of many.
And if it weren't for him, we would have known precious little about the Panchatantra or the Jataka Tales.
Uncle Pai, who became a presence in living rooms with his personal replies to 'Letters to Uncle Pai' in Tinkle, died of a heart attack in Mumbai on Thursday at the age of 81.
He had been hospitalised last week for a fracture after he fell from a staircase. The creator of the iconic comic books is survived by his wife Lalitha.
As also by Suppandi, Tantri the Mantri, Shikari Shambhu, Ramu and Shamu and Kalia the crow, among others.
These characters helped millions understand that comic strips were not the domain only of foreign superheroes or high school teens seeking dates. Pai, who was born in Karnataka and educated in Mumbai, brought mythology, history, biography and 'general knowledge' out of the academic realm and into the recreational.
The idea for a series on Indian mythology and history first struck him when he was watching a quiz contest in 1967.
He was working with the Times of India books division, which brought out Indrajal comics, at the time.
When participants, who could take questions on Greek mythology, were unable to say who Rama's mother was he decided he had to do something to connect them to their roots.
So, with India Book House, he started a story that eventually contributed to the pursuit of national integration.
The series went on to become a hero on the Indian comic book scene, selling about 90 million copies of more than 400 titles in 20 languages.
In 1980, he launched Tinkle, the monthly that added science education to comic tales. The quizzes and puzzles were the stuff of many a young evenings.
After taking young minds back into the past, Pai helped them reach out to the future as well.
Now the brands have gone digital under ACK Media, headed by CEO Samir Patil, with whom Pai was 'chief storyteller'. And chief storyteller he will remain for many of us who learned our Ramayana, Mahabharata and our Mother Teresa the Uncle Pai way.
Suppandi is Tinkle's most popular character. He is a lovable goof who always gets into trouble.
He insists on thinking for himself, with disastrous consequences, after taking orders from his employer.
In the very first story, published in 1983, he decided to treat the ailing mistress of the house himself when she sent him to get the doctor. His antics leave his bosses speechless, and readers in splits.
Shikari Shambu is a bumbling hunter who is anything but brave.
He fears everything - from spiders to elephants.
Shambu's idea of adventure is to avoid trouble and laze in his hammock doing nothing.
Unfortunately for him, trouble knows how to find him. And he comes out on top, in spite of himself.
Kalia the Crow
Whenever the smaller animals are in danger from Doob-doob the crocodile and Chamataka the fox, its Kalia the crow to the rescue.
Two rabbits, Keechu and Meechu, are always saved by him.
Bhoori is the female presence in the clever Kalia's altruistic life.
Tantri the Mantri
Scheming, cunning and devious, this chief minister's always fails. In his aspiration for the throne, he spends all his time trying to get rid of King Hooja.
Crocodiles, catapults and booby traps, he has tried them all. Fortunately for King Hooja, his plans always backfire.