Amar Chitra Katha launches an interactive story book app

If your child spends his entire day playing Temple Run, Subway Surfer and Fruit Ninja on the iPad, he could also now spend some time getting to know our well-known epic. Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) is launching a 36-page interactive story book app for iPad — Ramayana — as told by Hanuman! The app is the first interactive audio book and has been exclusively developed for iPad. ACK Media, a leading education and entertainment conglomerate in India is the publisher of children’s brands such as Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Karadi Tales and Brainwave. The interactive audio book is being launched under the imprint for their digital storytelling initiatives called Amar Chitra Katha Select.

This app is essentially a picture book for children between the ages of four and 10. However, the images in this book have been brought to life using animation, which was created in collaboration with crispygam.es. The app has incorporated surprise elements into the pictures that respond to touch, which makes for a more engaging experience for the child. There is also the audio option so that the children can have the story read out to them.

The ACK Media chose the stories from the Ramayana for their first app since they believe that the epic remains a quintessential part of the Indian childhood experience. They hope that the digital retelling that has been written by Deepa Balsawar, will speak to the children of today. Partho Gupte, a young talented actor, is the voice of Hanuman. Gitanjali Rao, who won the Cannes Best Short Film Award for her animated work Printed Rainbow, is the director of the Ramayana app.

In an e-mail interview, Gitanjali Rao recalls that she jumped at the offer to direct an interactive story book simply because she had never done it before. As her work does not fall into the style of ACK, they agreed to embrace different styles in its ‘Select’ category and thus allowing Rao to explore new ways of storytelling. Although she likes to treat each of her work separately, she states that her experience making the Printed Rainbow did help since both works essentially have to do with storytelling, even if the medium differs. On her approach in making the Ramayana, she says that she resorted to the method of a child telling the story to another child. And, though the Ramayana is a story of morals and teachings, there are also some fun stories in it that she has inculcated so as to make the characters appealing to children, more than inspiring a feeling of awe in them.

From the choice of the story to the mode of storytelling, it definitely sounds like an app that is simultaneously fun and enlightening!