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Anant Pai - Editor

 

Affectionately called Uncle Pai, the Father of Indian Comics, Anant Pai was born on Sept 29, 1929 in Kakala, Karnataka. He lost his parents at the age of two and he was raised by his maternal grandfather. When Anant Pai was twelve, his grandfather passed away and he came to Mumbai with his cousin. Securing admission in good schools in Mumbai became difficult since he had studied in local Kannada schools and had did not understand English or Marathi. Finally he got admission at the Orient School, Mahim. The school did not have good infrastructure, but he found inspiring teachers there. He studied chemistry, physics and chemical technology. He is a double science graduate from University of Mumbai and speaks eight languages.

He developed a passion for writing and publishing and so in 1954 he launched ‘Manav’, a magazine dedicated to mental and spiritual health, and started a career in editing and publishing. ‘Manav’ was not a financial success. Anant Pai joined the ‘Times of India Books Division’ and in 1961, where he was involved in publishing ‘Indrajal Comics’. These comics featured reprints of popular American strip characters like the the Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, and later,native characters like Bahadur and Dara were added by Uncle Pai.

In 1967, he watched a quiz program on television and was very disappointed to see that children were not able to answer who the mother of Rama was but were able to answer questions on Greek Gods. Children were mesmerized by western stories and did not know of the rich treasure of stories that Indian mythology and folklores had in store for them. Anant Pai had a mission now. He vowed to get known to children, their rich cultural heritage through beautiful Indian stories, beautifully animated and presented.

He resigned from Times of India in the same year and joined India Book House and where he was put in-charge of the Classics Illustrated reprint programme. There, with the wholehearted support of Mr G.L. Mirchandani, Chairman of India Book House, Anant Pai embarked upon the challenge of bringing India’s stories to its children in an extremely simple and charming way. It took three years of dedicated work and the creative genius of Anant Pai to launch ‘Amar Chitra Katha series’ in 1970. The first Amar Chitra Katha to be published was ‘Krishna’. Soon the Ramayana and the Mahabharata was also published. These achieved unsubstantial success, and since then, there has been no looking back. Anant Pai went on to produce 436 comic books, each of which is dedicated to a person or event in Indian history, religion or mythology. He conceived, created and edited all of the books and written himself. The books were initially printed in English and Hindi and were soon made available in Bengali, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil Sanskrit and Urdu. Some titles were also translated into French, Spanish, German, Swahili, Fijian, Bahasa Indonesia, and Serbo-Croat.

In 1969, Anant Pai founded Rang Rekha Features, India's first comic and cartoon syndicate, which lasted till 1998.
He also started ‘Tinkle’, a children's monthly magazine in 1981. Pai says that the magazine was named so because every time a meeting was held to decide on a name for it, the telephone tinkled. So ‘Tinkle’ became the obvious choice. ‘Tinkle’ is a store house of witty and thought-provoking stories. Through characters of Suppandi, Anwar, Nasruddin Hodja, Shikari Shambu and Kalia the Crow, Pai gently instills good and sound values in children without preaching. Kalia the crow is based on the crow that came to his window sill at home, in Mumbai's Prabhadevi.

In association with Universal Music, he also brought out 4 volumes of an audio book story series for children titled, ‘Storytime With Uncle Pai’, in December 1991.

Presently he is actively involved in the Lalit Media & Education Ltd, a media publishing house that among other things produces 2-D flash animations and also recently released the VCD edition of his book 'Uncle Pai on the Secrets of Success'.

The Amar Chitra Katha books continues to be his best so far and a huge international success.

Today, at 77, he is a satisfied and accomplished visionary, and lives in Mumbai with his wife, Lalita, still works 12 hours a day from his two offices and enjoys three simple home cooked meals a day.
His awards are:

• Karpoorchand Puraskar of Uttar Pradesh Bal Kalyan Sansthan (1994)
• Yudhvir Memorial Award in Hyderabad (1996)
• Maharashtra Rajya Hindi Sahitya Academy Award (1996)
• Dr. T. M. A. Pai Memorial Award in Manipal (1997)
• University of Bombay Department of Chemical Technology's Distinguished Alumnus Award (1999)
• Millennium Konkani Sammelan Award, Illinois, U.S.A (2000)
• Raja Rammohan Roy Library Foundation's Award (2001)
• Priyadarshni Academy Award (2002)
• Vishwa Saraswat Sammaan (2003) .