“What is really important is providing role models, A nation marches ahead, provided it has role models.” and providing us with these he himself became one.Uncle Pai is no more..as of 24th of feb he has passed into legend, like the tales he told us through his comics. As the creator of Amar Chitra Katha comics and Tinkle- the magazine for children! he is undoubtedly a major figure in Indian Pop culture & occupies a unique and pioneering place in its publishing history.
|Vasavdatta cover: Pratap Mulick / Tinkle cover: Ram Waeerkar. Among the most prolific of the ACK artists who defined the aesthetics. Waeerkar was particularly versatile so his cartoony style is the Tinkle standard.|
While a single vision can often fall in the danger of being autocratic, and there is criticism that he let personal preferences decide important matters...( hey cut slack..it was his project!!) Pai was probably no more guilty of these negative influences than Walt Disney or Stan Lee would have been.. Each individual is a player in culture, molding his circumstances as best as he can creatively, trying to achieve success... and then, great success brings some dissent. What is remarkable is the ACTUAL impact of the comics itself on the wet clay of the generations that greedily received them. That impact is overwhelmingly positive!!!
But Amar Chitra katha-isation can now be taken to mean an over simplification which, seeing its overwhelming influence in the popular art of India including television and cinema's mythologicals and historicals ( in design and often in content too) is dangerous in its seeming authoritativeness. Not to miss its impact on animation itself. I feel that most Indian animation films that deal with mythology often start with sourcing the Amar chitra Katha comic of that story and then go downhill from there!!
ACK Art: Pratap Mulick Rama
The maze of history and mythology can be quite a tangle wood to present in a coherent way.. one man's hero may often be perceived as a villain by another. I found myself rooting for Akbar in one comic and siding with Rana Pratap in another.. but this confusion of feelings has led to a desire to know and ultimately a more rounded perspective of the processes of history and the development of nations. But concerns are often expressed about the impact on young minds of such superficial demarcation of good and evil in complex historical context. But all people I know grew up fine people!! mostly..!! ;)
And Indrajal comics too!!!!. and I was pleasantly surprised that Anant Pai was responsible for that spectrum of our childhood too... Apparently the choice between acquiring either Superman/batman or Phantom/mandrake etc fell to him in his tenure in the Times publishing group.. and he chose Phantom.. I believe because it was somehow closer to Indian sensibilities.( tho both groups are american comics ultimately). And I and a few generations of Indians cant thank him enough for that!!
Thanks for the memories, Uncle Pai!
An interview with Anant Pai Nandini Nayar
Some memories and tributes:
"At Tinkle we called him Unc" Janaki Viswanathan
India's 'Mr History' passes away Raja Murthy
Amar Chitra Katha Creator dies at 81. Krish Raghav
"Anant Pai's love for children was extraordinary" Abhay Vaidya