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Durable Link to this BlogMonday, February 28, 2011

Uncle Ananant Pai, No more

Uncle Ananant Pai, No more

I came to know that Anant Pai who reached millions of children through his picture books and comics "Amar Chitra Katha" serials breathed his last at Mumbai on Thursday the 24th of February 2011. He was 82.

I had the privilege of meeting "uncle" Anant Pai and his wife at Panaji, Goa in October 2005. The Goa Konkani Academy in collaboration with Central Sahitya Academy had organized a Seminar on Konkani Childrens' Literature. I was also invited to present a paper on Children's Folk-tales. It was but natural that the father of "Amar Chitra Katha", who regaled the countless kids, through the for more than 25 years was invited. His very presence was exciting. Well dressed with a beaming smile and soft talk, he belied his age. A Konkani by birth, he was a true Indian, reaching people in twenty Indian language versions plus English, of "Amar Chitra Katha" and became a house-hold name. He brought heroes of Ramayana, Mahabharatha and innumerable characters of puranas, history and folklore to life and provided them picture form.

Born in Karkala (South Kanara District) in 1929, he lost his parents at a very tender age and was brought up in Mumbai by his close relatives. He graduated in Chemical technology. But his main interest was to educate children through entertainment. There could not be more appealing way than picturised stories! Through India Book House, he made a beginning in 1967, though he was already a familiar figure through Indrajal comics in Times of India. By 1980, Tinkle appeared with fresh and imaginative cartoons. Uncle Pai was a pioneer in comics and cartoons for children. Elders also relished these books and hailed Mr. Pai as eternal entertainer.

So far 100 million comics have been sold since 1967 and "Amar Chitra Katha" every year sells more than three million copies.

In the Goa seminar Pai Mam ("Mam" is uncle in Konkani) personally complimented me (in Konkani) for presentation of a popular Konkani folk song-story of "monkey-cock" marriage. I was delighted to learn that he was browsing our www.kamat.com often and expressed his desire to contact Vikas. I was later told that he and Vikas exchanged ideas regarding web-comics!

The Goan academicians present were eager to have the "Amar Chitra Katha" serial versions in Konkani language also. Konkani is his and their mothertongue which is also state language of Goa. Uncle Pai, smiling agreed to examine the proposal.

I end this tribute by calling him "Amar Chitra Pai".

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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