Anant Pai and the comic book

Anant Pai, the father of Indian comics.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It is apt that the story of Anant Pai is now the script of a new comic by Amar Chitra Katha. It tells the tale of its founder and creator, a chemical engineer who wanted Indian children to know about their roots.

The popular story is that he once heard a quiz contest where children could answer questions on Greek mythology but did not know the name of Rama’s mother. And that his nieces and nephews showed him stories they had written that had characters with English names.

Disturbed by what he thought was an alienation from cultural roots and already involved in the distribution of comic books, Pai conducted an experiment in a Delhi school to establish that the comic format worked well for young minds to assimilate facts.


Armed with such proof and a mission to bring stories from India’s past into the mainstream, Pai was unstoppable. He wrote the first Amar Chitra Katha himself, the story of Krishna. This was in 1967. Over the next decade, over 400 titles were created by the comic house with repeat prints.

Pai educated himself with books on myth and history, researching stories and writing scripts. The Amar Chitra Katha library boasted 3,000 reference books on history, folk tales, the puranas and epics, and the Asiatic Library was the next stop for further research. A polyglot, Pai learnt Pali just to access the Jataka Tales.

In the 60s, comics had just caught the popular imagination and Phantom, Tarzan and Mandrake were already hugely popular. In fact, Pai played a role in changing ‘Bengali’ forest in the original Phantom comic to ‘Denkali’ as we know it.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 2:57:54 AM |

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