He was the greatest story-teller of our country, who through his engaging style of narration brought the children closer to Indian folklore and history. Anant Pai, popularly known as Uncle Pai, suffered a heart attack and died on February 25. He was 81.
Pai was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award this month at India's first Comic Convention held in New Delhi, on February 19-20.
The idea behind starting a comic book series on Indian culture and history had germinated in Pai's mind from a quiz contest aired on Doordarshan in February 1967, in which participants were able to answer questions on Greek mythology, but couldn't reply to those pertaining to Indian mythology.
Interestingly, Amar Chitra Katha was not his first attempt at comics. In 1954, he failed in his attempt at starting a children's magazine titled Manav, following which he joined The Times of India books division as a junior executive. Later, he took charge of Indrajal comics, launched by the Times Group.
In 2007, Anant Pai's creation was taken over by ACK Media. Today, Amar Chitra Katha sells about three million comics a year, in English, and in more than 20 Indian languages. It has sold about 100 million copies since its inception.
Born in Karnataka on September 17, 1929, Pai lost his parents at the tender age of two. When he turned 12, he reached Mumbai and later on studied at the University of Bombay, Department of Chemical Technology (now UICT). He was a dual-degree holder from the University of Bombay.
Pai was a disciplinarian, who followed a strict routine of 3 am to 9 pm everyday. A teetotaller, Pai was an avid reader, and was fond of Rabindra Sangeet.
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