Left for heavenly abode! Reminiscence still remains to millions: Pran Kumar Sharma

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“Ghar Se Masjid Hai Bahoot Door… Chalo Yu Karle ….Kisi Rote Hue Bacche Ko Hasaya Jaye (place of worship is very far…but we can do something…we can bring a smile to a child who’s crying), is my motto of life,” told Pran, famous cartoonist and creator of Chacha Chaudhary, Sabu, Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman and Channie Chachi, in conversation with Smita Dwivedi, who met him in his creative den at his home a few days before his demise. Meet Pran, the cartoonist we will always remember.

We all have loved the comic characters – Chacha Chaudhary, Sabu, Pinki, etc – they are a part of our growing up. The man behind these lovely characters – Pran Kumar Sharma, better known as Pran recently passed away. He had a degree in Political Science and also graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai. He had published over 400 comic books, comprising more than two lakh drawings and also had the credit of carrying his comic strips in 30 newspapers and periodicals across India. He was included in the People of the Year, 1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularising comics in India. He had also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Institute of Cartoonists and at 4th Annual Comic Con India Awards 2014. He had also started an institute for budding artists called ‘Pran’s Media Institute’.

Well begun is half done!

He started his career as cartoonist in 1960 and since then, there was no looking back. On asking about his journey as a cartoonist for more than 50 years now, he explained, “When I completed my education, my parents thought that I would join job in government sector, but I told them that I wanted to be a cartoonist. They all were shocked. I began my career in 1960 as a cartoonist for a Delhi-based newspaper Milap with comic strip Daabu and Professor Adhikari. At that time, there were no Indian cartoon characters or super heroes. We were just translating The Phantom, Mandrake, Flash Gordon, Superman, and Rip Kirby to Indian languages. I thought to make an Indian character with local subjects, something Indian readers could relate, and finally created Chacha Chaudhary in 1971 for Lotpot magazine and rest is history.”

Challenges faced…

As there are never shortcuts to success, similarly there is no substitute to hard work. The journey as a cartoonist was not so easy for him, initially. He used to get Rs. 7 to 10 for each strip and had to directly approach newspapers and publishers. He even fought legal battles for copyright issues as well. But things got better with time.

Genesis of characters…

(August 15, 1938 – August 05, 2014)On asking him to choose one of his favorite creations, he said, “They all are my kids and I love them equally.” While discussing about the genesis of his cartoon heroes, he shared, “All my characters are taken from middle class. One can easily find old man roaming in Chandni Chowk or Dariba Kalan area looking like Chacha. Pinki is like any other five-year-old girl you would find, she is good at heart and always want to help somebody, whereas Shrimatiji is a middle-class house wife, and Billoo is a cricket freak like normal teenager at that time.”

Interestingly, Sabu was not there in the beginning, he was introduced later, as the social condition of India changed drastically. There were bomb blasts, terrorism, hijacks, etc, “I want to be realistic in my imaginations. So, I introduced Sabu as a robust, muscular man from other planet, Jupiter. He was in awe with Indian hospitality, so decided to stay with Chacha and help him in saving others.”

Partners in success!

Pran has a sincere gratitude for all the people, with whom he worked. He feels lucky to be in their association, and sharing about the most special publishers in his life Diamond Publishers, he shared, “I was lucky to have met Diamond Comics. My professional journey found new direction after I met Narender Kumar Verma, we have had a very long association with each other and they continue to publish my comics”.

He also fondly remembers Sushanto Roy of Sahara, who started airing the Chacha Chaudhary series on TV, and that led to an increase in the readership of the book and now the series is all set to be animated as well, “We had signed an agreement for 100 episodes, but it ran to over 600 and they were really kind to me and made me richer,” he added.

Then n’ now…

Pran felt that even in today’s era of complete computerisation, the hand sketches and designs are more honest. And the only thing that last long is honesty. “I just want to tell all the cartoonists to work hard and create new things. Stop getting inspired, have determination and entertain people with fresh creations. Work hard till you discover a new hero and be patient.”

On a concluding note…

“I feel comics/books, if adapted well by electronic media have a great future. It increases kid’s interests in books of those particular characters. So we have to think smart and take a reverse approach now. Introduce cartoons first on TV and later in books,” he concluded.

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