Notes About Uncle Pai

- September 16, 2021


On the occasion of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle founder, Anant Pai’s 92nd birth anniversary, the editors of both brands pen heartfelt notes about him. Read their notes below.

Note from Reena Puri
Illustration: Ritoparna Hazra

The first thing that stayed with me about Anant Pai, was his huge smile. It spread across his face, pushed up his cheeks and disappeared into his eyes which would close in innumerable crinkles!
The second was his booming voice.
“Reena!” it would echo from his cabin door, deep and loud, and I would scurry out of my chair wondering, what next!

Anant Pai – the person – I don’t know much about. To me, he was a mentor, guide, philosopher, parent and storyteller. Miles away from my own father, he was a pillar of support and encouragement. A mentor who taught me almost everything I know about comics and a guide who helped me navigate my way through my work without once making me feel that he was holding my hand.

What connected us deeply was the love for stories. I had been a bookworm all my life, drawn to words and sentences, with an imagination that ran riot. I could disappear into imaginary worlds and stay there for hours. It just took me a few minutes to enter the world of Tinkle of which I had been made Assistant Editor. Mr Pai saw that and knew he could trust me with his magazine while he concentrated on Amar Chitra Katha.

Then, one day, he went away. It was all so sudden. I was in Agra, with a colleague, researching for a story on the Mughals. He had just had a fall. It hadn’t seemed life-threatening. Yet, he just left us – without a parting word, without a goodbye.

There was a huge void but what he had left behind was so strong that I had no doubt his work would continue. To that end, I have dedicated the rest of my career.

So, this is the promise I have made to Uncle Pai. As Editor-in-Succession to him, of Amar Chitra Katha, I will source the best stories from our heritage and tell it to children so that, as he himself put it, ‘they will learn about their magnificent country and grow up with a sense of pride and self-esteem’.

I know Uncle Pai would support me when I say that we need to be sensitive to each generation and its needs. He would like us to be free-minded, inclusive, educational and entertaining. That’s what we will always be!

So here’s to carrying on the legacy of Uncle Pai and being true to his vision.

Note from Kuriakose Vaisian 
Illustration: Vineet Nair

Dearest reader,

It is with a very humble heart that I am writing this short note, commemorating our beloved Uncle Pai. Growing up in a country thousands of kilometres from my hometown, the many worlds Uncle Pai built through the pages of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle played a huge role in informing and educating me about my motherland. From its storied history to its witty folktales to its evocative literature, it was Uncle Pai’s works that instilled in me a love for stories, both imagined and real. There were many History classes that I managed to shine in through school, thanks to my memory of Amar Chitra Katha books! And when it came to sparking my imagination, Tinkle’s characters were unparalleled. Be it Suppandi’s literal-mindedness, Shambu’s bumbling good luck, Kala’s heroics, Hodja’s quick wit, or even Tantri’s numerous attempts at stealing the Hujli crown, I was thoroughly entertained and inspired. Even when it came to current affairs or STEM subjects, Uncle Pai’s creations were always there to guide me, in the form of Tinkle Tells You Why and Anu Club!

Uncle Pai was truly a legend in more ways than one. He was the definition of visionary, foreseeing the educational potential of an engaging medium that had just about reared its head in our side of the world, long before the advent of the superhero movie and the billion-dollar industry that comic books and comic characters are today. I have always wondered what Uncle Pai would say about the evolution of Tinkle’s American counterparts like Marvel and DC and the pop culture behemoths they have become. From the little that I know about him, I’m sure he would be very excited, especially given the potential that Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle have to follow suit. After all, we have a ready treasure trove of stories waiting to be brought to the next generation. And all said and done, Uncle Pai would have never shied away from experimenting with all the different mediums available to us today!

So here’s to you, Uncle Pai, for becoming the nation’s storyteller to nations across the world, and doing it with enviable elan and panache. The folktales within this collection were handpicked by him and appeared across Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha. Given his penchant for teaching life lessons through the simplest of stories, I like to think folktales were his favourite kind of story! Happy birthday, Uncle Pai! And happy journeys to you, dear reader!

Your friend forever,
Achachan.

Read the first-ever collection of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle folktales compilation in our latest special release Uncle Pai’s Folktale Collection.

Comic of The Month

Anant Pai

Anant Pai strode the Indian comics industry like a colossus. Using the comics format he told stories from mythology, history and literature to generations of children. Uncle Pai, as he was known, wanted Indian children to be familiar with their heritage. A chemical engineer by profession, Anant Pai gave up his job to follow his dream, a dream that led to the creation of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle. Read the story of the man who left behind a legacy of learning and laughter.

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