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A tribute to ‘Chacha’ Pran

I don’t think anybody in India, who was born in 70s, 80s and 90s is not aware about Cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma, the man who created the famous Indian comic character Chacha Chaudhary breathed his last in New Delhi on August 6 after battling with cancer. His first creation was comic strip Daabu, which was popular among readers. In 1969, he sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine Lotpot, which got him recognition and made him famous amongst the masses. Apart from Chacha Chaudhary, Pran has also created other cartoon characters like Billoo, Raman, Shrimatiji and others, which are regularly published in Indian magazines.

I was addicted to his comics in my childhood. Whenever, I begin my journey in train, I make sure myself that I’m carrying three to five Diamond Comics with me. In summer vacation, when we used to visit my native place, a circulating library used to stock his Diamond Comics and everybody’s favourite character ‘Chacha Chaudhary was must in their collection. Despite temperature rising up to 45 degrees without electricity, I used to ensure that I finish reading the comic by afternoon. Such was the craze among children about Pran saheb’s creation. At a time, when most Indians used to look towards foreign publications like Superman and Phantom, Chacha Chaudhary was a breath of fresh air.

He was included in People of the year 1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularizing comics in India. In 1983, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi released Pran’s comics Raman – Ham Ek Hain which promoted national integration. Pran received a Lifetime Achievement Award 2001, from Indian Institute of Cartoonists too.

Cartoonist Pran, who had been suffering from cancer for a long time, passed away on August 5. He was born on August 15, 1938 and became, in the kind of symbolism found only in story books, one of the father figures of Indian comics. Now, in 2014, when people talk of the country having or not having a comics culture, what is often forgotten is the fact that India has had a comics culture ever since Pran decided to pick up a pencil. His creations – Chacha Chaudhary, Sabu, Raka, Pinky, Billu, Shrimatiji, Rocket and Raman – are not mere products of creativity. They are products of perseverance and hope. They were created by a man who was more than just a good artist.

As far as themes go, Pran created comics that were genuinely Indian in ethos. In his most recognised creation – the character of Chacha Chaudhury – Pran celebrates intelligence. This may not seem very important at first glance, but when you take a look at a comic book world full of strong muscular superheroes and deviously smart evil villains, you come to see the point. Chacha Chaudhary was a quintessentially Indian comic because it embodied India’s respect for intelligence. Those who grew up reading the adventures of Chacha Chaudhary came to respect intelligence as a virtue. Add to that the fact that Pran’s creations were the common men and women living in small town India and you begin to understand what India has lost.
He was also anointed the Walt Disney of India by World Encyclopedia of Comics earlier this year, and also awarded the People of the Year Award by the Limca Book of Records in 1995 for his contribution to the Indian Comic Industry.

Thanks Pran for livening up all our lives with those colourful pages and tales of Chacha Chaudhry, Sabu, Billu, Pinki, Channi Chachi and rest of the gang. Thanks for providing us desi superheroes, for telling us tales of mischievous kids who were our mirror images. Thanks for making those summer afternoons so full of action and fun. A final goodbye to you.
Reading his comics transported us to a different era. We indeed owe a big part of our childhood to you. RIP Pran sir.

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