“Jab Sabu ko gussa aata hai, toh door kahin jwalamukhi phat ta hai”. The line reminds every one of their childhood. And what to say about Chacha chaudhary, jinka dimaag computer se bhi tez chalta hai! No one can forget this great man who has inspired every Indian kid. Pran Kumar Sharma, the creator of the above characters is hurt to know that comic books are slowly losing their popularity. He says, “It is sad that comics are a dying breed.”
There was a time when without buying a tinkle, ACK or Chacha Chaudhary from the railway station, a train journey would be incomplete. Young children annoying their parents to buy them just one more and parents surrendering to the tantrums of the child was a usual sight. You could compete with the child next door on the knowledge of comic characters. Uncle Pai (the affectionate name of Anant Pai) is credited to launch our very own comics. Traditional, mythological to make religious tales interesting and known to every person. The Amar Chitra Kathas and Tinkle still have no other substitute. There was once a punch line advertised in the magazine-“The height of my tinkle collection is way longer than my height.” The popularity and sentiments attached are very well reflected. It is rare to find that a teen of about your age, right next to you won’t have read a comic. (Can’t guarantee a younger lot would have read- that’s why I say a gone by era). So a cool conversation can crop up with just hinting a comic. Do try!!
The 1980s and early 90s saw a flourishing comic industry in India but since then there has been a sharp decline. People state the inflow of new entertainment modes like television and internet have been a vital reason. Laughter is still the best medicine but mode has seen a turned table. Highest TRPs are still of comic serials but yes that’s on TV. You easily find Kapil Sharma entertaining the entire family with his one liners and film celebs rushing to promote and take advantage of the high TRPs. So in this lazy atmosphere no one has the ‘courage’ to move themselves and buy a comic. Also keeping up with the internet world, these publishers have come up with e-comics which have reduced the sale for comics. E-comics have proved a good alternative but the joy of reading is never the same. Earlier with fewer number of entertainment sources, people resorted to reading as a hobby.
Also the comics published by Indian companies catered to the then minds of the citizens of the secular land. The innocence of Suppandi landed him in humorous situations. The fear inside Shikari Shambhu is relatable to all. And the fact that despite his darpok nature he always ended up becoming the hero motivates thousands to overcome their fear. Pran’s comic characters had humility attached to them. They were inspired from middle class Indian life. Chacha was an average Indian man on road who faced problems from corrupt government officials, thieves, roadside goons and bullies, tricksters and cons and local thugs. Along with fighting them he helped common man to learn about moral lessons and good behaviour. Billoo was your teenage boy-next-door. Chachi was the usual Indian wife fed up of her husband not buying her gold though kind hearted and caring at heart. The fact that there was nothing special about these characters made them memorable when their tale was told.
But talking about the present time, how innocent do you find even a child? Doubts arise because this techno world has made them aware about everything. The innocence has been lost. Neither the people today are ready to learn morals. In this selfish age the rat race has been an important aspect in change of ideology. People are ready to sell themselves, their morality at the cost of materialistic pleasures and power and position. No one is now inspired by fighting against the corruption; they rather would support it so that it saves time. This change of turn declined the reading audience of middle class comic characters.
Another aspect is the dying trend of literature as such. By literature I mean love for reading, writing and imagination. Comics were a fun to read arena but along with this they helped to spark imagination and even end up inspirational in many cases. For a just about to read and write child, these proved great learning sources. But in the gadget freak global world, the respect for language has been lost. Reaffirming faith in language and the spread of importance of language should help the lost comics to take the stage again.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.