There was a time when syndicated strips like The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon and Rip Kirby were translated to Indian languages and ruled the roost. And then came Chacha Chaudhary and its creator, Pran Kumar Sharma a pioneer who changed the Indian comic circuit.
Pran Kumar Sharma better known as Pran graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Sir J. J. School of Art in Mumbai, he began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper Milap with comic strip Daabu and Professor Adhikari. Since then few of his legendary cartoon strips include Raman, Billu and Shrimatiji. However the biggest cult character created by Pran is Chacha Chaudhary.
He has published over 400 comic books comprising more than two lakhs drawings. He also has the credit of carrying his comic strips in 30 newspapers and periodicals across India.He was included in the People of the year,1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularizing comics in India. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Institute of Cartoonists and has started an institute for budding artists called ‘Pran’s Media Institute’.
Speaking to Animationxpress.com about his achievements, work and his famous character ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ shared, “ As a child I was inspired by my brother, Kalwalnath to the world of cartoons. He was an artist and also inspired the artist within me. I started creating comics in the 1960’s.At that time, Indian comics scenario was largely based on reprints of The Phantom and Superman and Amar Chitra Katha which was based on ancient Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana.”
“There were many cartoonists in India at that time like R.K.Narayan,Mario and Shankar but all made political cartoons. I wanted to give the Indian audience our own Indian hero. The idea behind the character of ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ was to create a hero remarkably different from most other comic-book superheroes who is not a muscle man, nor does he have extraordinary powers but who uses his shrewd brain and presence-of-mind.”
“All my comic characters are based on real life people there is nothing irrational about them, they are real people. Each family has its own wise old man who solves problems with common sense, but with a touch of humor. Humor is the basis of all my cartoons.”
“After the appreciation that Chacha received, I went on to add more characters to the series like Sabu, Rocket and Bini Chachi among others. “He added.
“In the early days, artists had to approach newspapers and publishers with their comics as there were no syndicates. I have been lucky to have met Diamond Comics, we have had a very long association with each other and they continue to publish my comics”.
“It feels good to be appreciated, as an artist I have tried to teach people whatever I have learnt through the years. I take lectures in Finland,France,Spain,Korea and Japan, talking to budding artists about my experiences and knowledge. Just as a field such as Journalism has various beats, cartooning too has its own beats, Political, Social and Comics and as a comic artist I have tried to improve and excel each and every time.
Its been 40 years, I still have the same working process as before, working for 8 hours a day, still trying to learn as I just want to live my life entertaining people, there are thousands of people abroad asking me for the comic of Chacha Chaudhary, there are more than 10 lakh people on my facebook page.”
“Also, I would like to request the Government to built a museum of cartoons in India, most of the countries I have gone to for lectures have museums, it is very necessary to acknowledge the work artists like R.K Narayan and Mario have done.”
“I just want to tell all the cartoonists around the world to work hard, have determination and entertain people as there is nothing more satisfying then entertaining people with one’s comics.” he concludes
Chacha Chaudhary was created in 1971 for the Hindi magazineLotpot and has sold almost ten million copies across Ten languages. It has been ranked the most recognizable comic book character by the age group ‘10-13’ in India. The Chacha Chaudhary strips have also found permanent place in International Museum of Cartoon Art, USA. Chacha Chaudhary has also been made into a television series in 2000-2001 by Sahara One and a full length movie is also going to be made on the character.
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