Uncle Pai dead, but his Amar Katha lives on - The Times of India

Uncle Pai dead, but his Amar Katha lives on - The Times of India

MUMBAI: It is time to bring out a comic book on the man who started it all. Anant Pai, a visionary who helped millions of children delve into the fascinating treasure trove of Indian mythology, history and legends through comics, died on Thursday at the age of 81 after a massive heart attack.

The shy but affectionate man— who signed handwritten letters to his young fans as 'Uncle Pai' — left an indelible mark on Indian popular culture by launching the Amar Chitra Katha series in 1967, after a stint with The Times of India. He was motivated by a TV quiz in which contestants rattled off answers related to Greek myths but didn't know the name of Rama's mother.

Most publishers were sceptical but Pai persisted and the series finally began with the launch of the first title, 'Krishna'. He lent it the auspicious Indian touch by titling it number 11 instead of one. The early years were tough — there are anecdotes of Pai personally setting up display racks in restaurants. But today, Amar Chitra Katha sells about three million comic books a year in more than 20 languages, and has sold over 100 million copies since its inception.

Pai is survived by his wife Lalitha. The couple did not have any children, though Pai was adored by millions of young readers.


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