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AMAR CHITRA KATHA: CHANGING THE BRAND WITH CHANGING TIMES?1
Designation: Asst. Professor Affiliation: Address: IBS, Hyderabad IFHE Campus Shankerpalli, Dontanapalli Main Road Hyderabad 501504, Andhra Pradesh Phone: Email: 09989864694 email@example.com
Designation: Professor Affiliation: Address: IIM Bangalore Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, India. Pin Code: 560 076 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This case was prepared by Subhadip Roy of IBS Hyderabad and YLR Moorthi of IIM Bangalore and is intended to be used for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of the situation. Presented to and accepted for the International Case Conference, November 2011, Goa, India. Copyright is with Subhadip Roy
AMAR CHITRA KATHA: CHANGING THE BRAND WITH CHANGING TIMES? “We called it Amar Chitra Katha also because the “picture story” is an ancient form of storytelling. Some of the earliest stories from the prehistoric era were recorded in pictures— tales of exciting hunts and discovery. I believe that we can instill good values in children through stories, show them a good path. If these stories are illustrated, then there’s nothing better. That was our thought.”2 - Anant (Uncle) Pai, Founder Amar Chitra Katha "I think it's not possible to connect with today's children unless you are on television. When we grew up, it was a very different era and it was a very different world. But today, there is nothing more larger than life than films. So, I think if you look at those two things, the fact that broadcast is the most important media today for kids, it's a must do."3 - Samir Patil, CEO ACK Media INTRODUCTION The first quote summarizes the essence and objectives behind the beginning of Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Picture Stories), a series of comic books illustrating the glorious past of India in every aspects. It speaks about the vision of Anant Pai (Pai), popularly known as ‘Uncle Pai’ who started the series from a humble beginning which went on to create comic history in India. On February 24th 2011, Anant Pai (Pai), the creator of the Amar Chitra Katha comics & of children’s’ magazine Tinkle, passed away at the age of 81 after suffering a severe heart attack (Refer to Exhibit I for a note on Anant Pai). People of all ages expressed shock and grief at his demise. Such were the sentiments of people who worked with him, “Mr. Pai was a pioneer and an inspiration for everyone who worked in the field of children’s entertainment and education,” said Samir Patil, the head of ACK Media, which has owned Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle since 2007. Since its inception in 1967, Amar Chitra Katha comics have come a long way. Lots of new story lines, new characters, and new media have been developed. The brand Amar Chitra Katha has become famous not only in India but abroad too. Every Indian child from 1967 till today would have at one point in his childhood read these comics. Such is the fan following that the adults who grew up in late 1970s and 80’s still read the comics in their free time. Amar Chitra Katha, even in the first decade of 2000’s was one of India’s largest selling comic book series with more than 90 million copies sold in 20 Indian languages. The imprint had more than 500 titles in 2010 which regaled stories from the great Indian epics, mythology, history, folklore, and fables and biographies.
Excerpts from a 2009 video interview with the father of Indian comics, Uncle Pai, shot for a documentary on Indian comics history. By Whistling Woods International. 3 Amar Chitra Katha to make its TV debut soon. By Manisha Mahaldar, CNN IBN. Aug 12, 2009. www.ibnlive.in.com.
a view which has been summarized in the second quote at the beginning of the case. Pritchett in Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. at a time when indigenous comic industry was almost absent. books and comics to cartoons and cds/dvds. However. IBH also used to publish paperback editions of authors such as Enid Blyton and Frederick Forsyth.The journey of the work which started as an educational tool to make the Indian children aware of Indian mythology. such actions were shifting the focus of the brand from books to electronic media. “Who is the mother of Ram?”5 Ramlila (Hindi: literally means Rama’s play) is a dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Ram and the ten day battle between him and Ravan. Amar Chitra Katha als had to change with time. It is traditionally organized in a makeshift open-air theatre during September/October depending on the Hindu calendar. According to Anant Pai. pp. A young boy was asked a question about Hindu mythology and he couldn’t answer it: “They could answer every question about Greek mythology…but in Delhi. DVDs/VCDs. by Frances W.e. University of Pennsylvania Press. from the Hindu religious epic. This had put the management into a two pronged dilemma. The holding company in 2010 had realized the digitalization of the media and used it in its favor to reach the internet and electronic media savvy generation. New Delhi. Pai was attending a quiz show for children in 1967 where an odd phenomenon occurred. But the vision of Pai popularly known as Uncle Pai prevailed and a testimony to the fact was that Indian children in the 21st century knew about the Indian mythology and history through these comic series. the Ramayana. Ramlila has received considerable global attention and UNESCO declared Ramlila as Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. IBH at that time was mainly into distribution of imported books and magazines in India. Wadley. Babb and Susan S. eds. comics on mobile phone platforms. It was up to time to judge the long term success of the brand Amar Chitra Katha. 1997. But the management felt that the shift was inevitable to maintain a stable position in the marketplace and achieve growth. (IBH) was founded in 1952 in Mumbai. where every year they enact the Ramlila4 – for ten long days they enact scenes from the Ramayana – the youngster could not answer the question. 4 3 . Ltd. etc. The company had tried to reach its audience through the launch of an online portal. 76. It is usually staged by amateur actors from the same social grouping as the audience. THE JOURNEY Indian Book House Pvt. The dream of Uncle Pai to make Indian children well versed with Indian culture had remained intact though the medium of communication changed owing to the information technology revolution. sponsoring movies based on Amar Chitra Katha. 5 The world of Amar Chitra Katha. The creative team behind the series was accused of singular scripts and not thoroughly researched historical and mythological characters. Amar Chitra Katha had its real origin in Delhi. First. Lawrence A. The Indian editions of two very popular comic series Tintin and Asterix also were published by them in Indian languages. Indian Ed. mind you. history and culture was not free from criticism. the shift from print to electronic media implied that the competitive landscape would be different Shift to electronic media also meant shift from the core product i.
Every issue was first produced in English and as per the sales potential was then translated into various regional languages. with much excitement and extensive advertisement in other Amar Chitra Katha issues. the later issues were changed to full color. India. Moreover Pai had confidence in the Indian culture and history and was sure that a comic series on the same would be a success. for the kids who would like to read comics in English. The series was created by Albert Kanter and ran publication from 1941 to 1971. in Hindi but the comic series failed to attract attention of the child readers. i. the children were told stories from folklore and the epics by their grandparents. Pai had once worked on the comic strip “The Phantom” during his tenure with the Times of India7. 6 4 . The publishing house IBH originally printed Amar Chitra Katha using yellow. it should be written for the English language market. mythology and culture. 7 The Times of India (TOI) is the largest selling English-language daily newspaper in the world. Hindi. Three Musketeers. The time of the launch of Amar Chitra Katha couldn’t have been better. There was a paradigm shift in the Indian society as it was slowly moving away from the traditional joint family system to nuclear families. Mirchandani let Pai try out his suggestion which took the form of Indian classics in English with the help of pictures. The first book in the series. The earliest titles came in six different languages namely English.G. had tried his hand at translating “Classics Illustrated”6 comics. According to mythology. Presently the paper is owned and managed by Bennett. the series was publishing a new comic once a fortnight. Krishna is regarded as the eight incarnation of lord Vishnu. The logo of the brand symbolized the sun as well as learning since light was associated with learning (Refer to Exhibit III for the logo). Amar Chitra Katha came into existence in 1967. The authenticity of the information provided in the books was a result of extensive research by the creative team. producing 169 issues. Initially. H.000 copies but was hard to sell. Telugu and Marathi. The series was numbered 11 by Pai instead of one to give it an auspicious touch. Treasure Island. Initial success came late and it was hard to sustain such a rigorous proposition. was first printed in an edition of 10. Lord Krishna is believed to be the embodiment of love and divine joy and is the protector of good against evil. Both parents and teachers started using the series as educational tools for their children. Krishna (Refer to Exhibit II for the front cover of this Issue) went on to sell over half a million copies. It was founded in 1838 as 'The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce' in Mumbai. In 1966. In an Indian joint family. The void left by absence of grandparents in the smaller nuclear families was filled by Amar Chitra Katha series. 8 In Hindu religion. The first volume in the series was Krishna8. By the 1980s. under the Sahu Jain family.e. Gujarati. Ltd. However. Coleman & Co. The initial idea was to bring out a new comic book once a month. Thus. He realized that the kids were reading too much of non Indian books and one of the reasons may be the unavailability of good quality books for children dealing with Indian history. Kannada. and he knew that to sell such a product. but there was a rise in its popularity. blue and green colors due to budgetary constraints. By this Classics Illustrated was a comic book series featuring adaptations of literary classics such as War of The Worlds. The language chosen was English which made it possible for majority of children who studied in English medium schools to access it. The series was very popular and various publication houses had since reprinted its titles. he was born in the Dvapara Eon and was christened Krishna or the "dark one" because of his dark complexion. The research led outcome helped Amar Chitra Katha to be widely appreciated and accepted by the masses. the series lost money. one of the publishers at IBH.Pai felt that something really was wrong somewhere. etc. Mirchandani (Mirchandani).
There was some criticism from many quarters in terms of authenticity of information in the comics. With over five hundred titles then. Malayalam. the emphasis shifted to pre-planned “miniseries” groupings. India's first comic and cartoon syndicate. The magazine contained comics. Amar Chitra Katha sold over 78 million copies according to IBH. Urdu. IBH claimed to have sold a total of 50 million copies since the series began (Refer to Exhibit V for details of the series wise break up of Amar Chitra Katha titles in 1986). Rane. USD 1 = INR 45 approximately as on June 7. C.R Sharma. Subba Rao. with Pai as the Managing Director. the cover page mentioned “The Children’s monthly from the house of Amar Chitra Katha” and had the Amar Chitra Katha logo. contests and other features targeted at school children 9 10 INR 1 = 100p. The reason behind this was to target the kids who were more into vernacular languages. BRAND EXTENSIONS The success of Amar Chitra Katha inspired Pai to start a new venture. Sanjeev Waeerkar. Thus a wholesome monthly “all-comics” magazine for young children called Tinkle came out in November 1980 (Refer to Exhibit VIA for the cover of the first issue of Tinkle). Marathi. Telugu. The issues were initially priced at a nominal rate of 75p9 which was within the reach of most of the target group. India in the 1980’s still had a big majority of schools with vernacular medium of instruction. Bengali. Punjabi. puzzles. to leverage the magazine based on the reputation already built by Amar Chitra Katha. The magazine was launched under Rang Rekha10 Features. Towards the midnineties. Many of the Amar Chitra Katha issues were based on history and real people alongside mythology and folktales. of inhabitants of different regions and also stories on regional classics. Kannada.time more regional languages were included. and Gujarati. In 1986. and Sanskrit. Souren Roy. showing their titles. The series went scholarly change with respect to spellings of names. Dilip Kadam. The multilingual advantage of Amar Chitra Katha was featured in the initial advertisements (Refer to Exhibit IV). the marketing strategy changed and instead of promoting single issues in an isolated manner. The inside front cover started offering the date of publication and full bibliographic information. However. After late 1980s. general knowledge. 2011. Thus as a reply some changes were incorporated. 5 . Kamala Chandrakant. Geoffrey Fowler and Pratap Mullick. and occasionally Tamil. the series were launched into book forms which benefitted both the sellers and the buyers. The series started coming with page numbers on the pages with headers having title and the series name instead of just pictures on the pages. In the late 1980s. Assamese. But Pai still remained the editor. Footnotes to define problematical words and related stories were also included in the issues. that lasted till 1998. The series underwent minor changes in the first twenty-five years since inception. Margie Sastry. it was not humanly possible for any bookseller to display them due to space constraints. The popularity of the epic stories propelled the team to publish stories based on Indian history. the original comics were reprinted in thinner editions. The creative team at Amar Chitra Katha comprised of notables writers and illustrators like Ram Waeerkar. The only solution seemed possible was to gather them into books (hardbound ones) so that they can be conveniently displayed. D. Amar Chitra Katha was now being published in Hindi. with thick covers and better color separations. the binding side standing upright. Debrani Mitra. By 1993. C.
Around the same time there was an entrepreneur cartoonist called Pran Kumar Sharma who started publishing chronicles of a comic character called Daabu in the 1960’s. The monthly digest from Tinkle was named as Partha and released in September in 1986. the duo who Chandamama was launched by B. He followed it up with Shrimatiji. Hard work (H). many of the famous international comic characters. The low price of the individual issues combined with the good print quality and international flavor made Indrajal comics an instant success. Partha was designed “to awaken the winner in you”. In 2007. Abiding interest (A). The increasing popularity led IBH to make Tinkle a fortnightly magazine later on. Archie and Commando. 11 6 . it was being published in 13 Indian languages. due to unknown reasons.(Refer Exhibit VIB for a Note on Tinkle). Asterix. However. In the later part of the 2000’s it was acquired by Mumbai based Geodesic Limited. However. In 1978. launched a new series called Indrajal12 Comics in March 1964. The same artists associated with Amar Chitra Katha were creating the artwork of Tinkle. The word PARTHA was an acronym for the attributes required for success i. Bahadur was created by artist Aabid Surti and joined the bandwagon. the distinctly Indian character. who was a representation of the then Indian housewife. Aim (A). Later on there were characters such as Dara (an Indian version of James Bond) and Aditya. Phantom was a costumed crimefighter based in the fictional African country Bengalla. Chandamama was published in more than 5 regional languages since 1947. The first 32 issues of the series contained stories of the Phantom13. at that time the market was dominated by imported international comics such as Tintin. In 1973. Thereafter. Pai came up with one more extension. Flash Gordon. Chandamama launched its own website and by 2010. It was positioned as a self development magazine. Coleman & Co. (also the publisher of the newspaper The Times of India). Restraint (R). Ltd. Lee Falk also created Mandrake the Magician. The comics were available in a large number of regional dialects. With the success of Tinkle. Rip Kerby and Buz Sawyer became regular features of Indrajal comics. Though a success initially this magazine could not achieve success in the long run. including Mandrake.e. Positive thinking (P). Pran created Chacha Chowdhary (Uncle Chowdhary) and Sabu (a man from planet Jupiter). Some of the characters who started appearing in the magazine stories became very popular and many of them were continued even after the original illustrator passed away or resigned. The comics published in Chandamama were adaptations of stories from the great Indian epics. Training (T). However. 13 Phantom was a comic superhero character created by artist Lee Falk in 1939. Indrajal comics had also its share of Indian heroes. the high prices of the foreign comic books deterred the general audience from purchasing them. the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani with an aim to educate and entertain young readers about the rich cultural traditions of India. The popularity of the characters had helped the brand later on to come out with special issues with stories of only these special characters (Refer Exhibit VIC for a description of the major individual characters). To address this issue Bennet. Managing Tinkle was even more challenging since it was a magazine in the form of comics. the publishers decided to discontinue the series from 1990. THE COMICS MARKET IN INDIA IN THE 1970’s AND 1980’s One of earliest attempts to create and publish Indian comics with a domestic flavour was by children’s magazine Chandamama11. and was meant for older children. 12 Indrajal is a Hindi word which means Magic.
Ltd. The series boasted of its power in the back covers of the issues (Refer Exhibit VII for sample ads published in back covers of the issues). Many more characters like Pinki. James Bond and Archie. So Pai had to take charge of pitching Amar Chitra Katha. University of Pennsylvania Press. He also got some of the buses in Mumbai painted with characters from the comic books and heavily advertised in school newsletter.combined brain and brawn to fight the evils of society. an advertising flyer was inserted into some issues of Amar Chitra Katha. Jhapatji came from the house of Diamond Comics and were loved by kids since they represented common people and day to day life. history. legend – the very soul of Indian culture” – packed in volumes of 32 colourful pages14 (Issue 399 inside back cover). by Frances W. The claim read: “Amar Chitra Katha…. The series were positioned as “educational tools” and urged parents to accustom their children with Indian culture by using the series. Billu.5000 years of India’s mythology. Babb and Susan S. 1997. and had acquired copyrights to publish various nonIndian comics such as Phantom. Pai did not go for traditional media to advertise his product. One such action was putting up a display rack in a restaurant with his own hands. It was also one of the very first publishers in India to create comic books based on successful Television serial Shaktiman (An Indian Superhero). Lawrence A. This was topped by the informative value of the comics which was not present in any of the competitors. Bengal already had their own superhero (Bantul the Great). Rather he used the existing Amar Chitra Katha issues to advertise future issues and benefits of reading Amar Chitra Katha (Refer The world of Amar Chitra Katha. kid version of Laurel and Hardy (Handa Bhonda) and chronicles of a boarding schools mischievous students and their superintendent (Nante Fante). Most of these comics were first published in children’s magazines and then collected and published as a series by regional publishers. Pai travelled to various schools in India. A more refined statement to strengthen the positioning came in March 1988. pp 81. MARKETING STRATEGIES Amar Chitra Katha has used innovative marketing strategies over the time. so that the comics were received regularly through the mail like magazines. The first and foremost advantage was the positioning. Indian Ed. in 1978. In December 1987. In the initial years IBH was just a book publishing firm and apprehensive about the use of innovative marketing strategies. Pritchett in Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. Diamond Comics was established under the holding company Diamond Comics Pvt. The outcome of this move was that many school libraries became subscribers. eds. Later on. Within a short while Diamond Comics became the largest publishers of comics in India. some examples of which were: “Acquaint your children with their cultural heritage”. During this time. It had a very Indian flavor in it. “Give your child a gift he’ll treasure forever – the gift of his own heritage”. 14 7 . He distributed free copies to schools to demonstrate the value of Amar Chitra Katha as a learning tool. He went against the established culture and he went for marketing activities himself. Wadley. Pai emphasized on annual subscriptions. “Amar Chitra Katha – the Route to your Roots”. In the late 1960’s. India also had a thriving comic book market in some regions such as West Bengal (Bengal). New Delhi.
Indian Ed. . Advertisements of Amar Chitra Katha used to be published in Tinkle and vice versa. Indian Ed.g. The issue of Valmiki. This deeply hurt the sentiments of Valmiki Sabha. This made Pai to remove the issue on Valmiki from circulation. Thus to take care of the growth.who screen each word and each picture as they have a lasting impact on impressionable minds. This made them to sue Pai for defamation15. 1997.for whom Amar Chitra Katha is more a vehicle of education than a business”16. One had options of ordering a series of deluxe hardbound volumes sequentially bound in sets of ten. Moreover by mid eighties both Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle had become popular among kids. Great caution was taken in preparing issues about characters from other minority communities as well. This strategy was very successful and lots of prominent brands at that time put their ads in Amar Chitra Katha (Refer Exhibit VIII for product advertisements inside Amar Chitra Katha Issues). Pai also realized that since Amar Chitra Katha had a wide reach among children. an issue involving Sikh characters was drafted. 16 The world of Amar Chitra Katha. more book like units. Thus he allowed advertisers to put full page ads on the back cover and inside back cover of the issues. Lawrence A. New Delhi. These hardbound issues were named as “Bumper Issues” and these were mostly the collection of related stories with a connecting super theme. Pritchett in Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. This initiative was launched in the late 1970’s. To increase up-selling. University of Pennsylvania Press. Whenever. expert opinion on beards was sought. This product however could not achieve much success as the books. In 1976. Wadley. 1997. eds. Pritchett in Media and the Transformation of Religion in South Asia. So. published in that year depicted Valmiki as Brahmin and thief in his initial years before composing Ramayana. The series on Guru Nanak depicted the holy man with a halo around his head from infancy to show respect to Sikh feelings. PROBLEMS AND CRITICISMS The road was not always smooth for the brand. Pai went for a crossadvertising strategy. Many titles in the series display the following pledge: “Amar Chitra Katha are brought out by people – who care for children. Chokhamela in 1983 and Ravidas in 1986) he took extra care not to hurt the sensibilities of less privileged classes. pp. Babb and Susan S.to Exhibit VII for some of early ads of Amar Chitra Katha). 79. New Delhi. there was a severe lack of new ideas and new issues. by Frances W. LACK OF IDEAS? From the mid 1990’s onwards. Amar Chitra Katha tied up with Polydor Records and Amarnad Cassettes to bring out narrated versions of Amar Chitra Katha stories along with background music (Refer to Exhibit IX for an advertisement of Audio Versions of Amar Chitra Katha). . 8 . Babb and Susan S. Amar Chitra Katha attracted for the first time a very different sort of attention. by Frances W. When he attempted other issues on untouchability (e. But Pai did not want any controversy so he reconciled and no legal case went off the ground. Wadley. It was decided to group Amar Chitra Katha titles into larger. (a group in the Punjab wanting to change their caste identity) who maintained that Valmiki was neither a Brahman nor a thief. it could serve as a media for advertising to children. University of Pennsylvania Press. The brand was surviving on reprints of old issues. eds. Another collection came up called 15 The world of Amar Chitra Katha. Pai came up with an innovative strategy. Lawrence A.
Along with the cable TV revolution arrived private channels and many of them were completely dedicated to children such as Cartoon Network. DVDs. Disney and Nickelodeon. The mission statements of the new company included fostering creativity among young people and encourage critical thinking and at the same time develop sensitivity towards social and physical environments. Occasionally there were “bumper” issues with 90 pages. Moreover by the early 2000 the personal computer was becoming a household feature in the Indian middle class and children started to spend time on it. the kids whose leisure time had mainly books and games (indoor and outdoor) had a diversified array of options in front of them. TinkleOnline. The new company had a five pronged approach towards the brand. most collecting stories of a similar type from individual issues (Refer Exhibit X for the revamped book types from Amar Chitra Katha).com and also come up with a set of proprietary characters. Tinkle Digest and Tinkle Double Digest). browsing and chatting. The cable TV penetration which started in the late 1980’s in India was flourishing (Refer Exhibit XIA for the trend in TV penetration in India). ACK Media was founded in early 2007 by Patil with a focus on new product development centering on Indian themes. online services. Moreover the internet started to become a popular media and leisure activity of the young generation and the internet penetration was growing at a very fast rate (Refer Exhibit XIB for trend in Internet penetration in India). Amar Chitra Katha. Both the sales and the popularity of Amar Chitra Katha were declining. the series started coming as hardcover 3-in-1 and 5-in-1 bundled issues with ‘single volumes’ still available. The two flagship brands Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle were both brought under the same umbrella of ACK Media which already owned another brand of children literature called Karadi Tales. Meaning: Nine Gems) Deluxe” volumes with each containing nine related titles. These channels started to take a share in the pie of leisure activities of children. In the initial phase. the Internet also emerged as a strong media of communication. Thus Amar Chitra Katha was facing a decline similar to that faced by US comic giants like Marvel Inc. the focus of the company was three-fold. This reduced the reading time of physical books and has a dampening effect on reading habits. The long term goal of the company was to become a leader in providing quality high-entertainment and education to children of all years. By the mid 2000. and also wanted to start up The ACK Online Store. First. However. games. even after the buyout. THE CHANGING LANDSCAPE One thing was changing rapidly in the late 1990’s and early 2000 and that was the media. A NEW MANAGEMENT On November 2007. TV and film. being a part of the book industry was affected by this shift in trends. The epics like Mahabharata started coming in special editions in a 3 volume 1300+ pages set. all the Amar Chitra Katha titles and Tinkle magazine were bought by Mumbai Entrepreneur Samir Patil (Patil) under the umbrella brand of ACK Media. The new company wanted to increase focus on developing original content and products and wanted to make them available in multiple formats including print. Pai was retained as a consultant to ACK Media. the company wanted to increase the 9 . the Tinkle family of Magazines (which included Tinkle. Thus. In such a situation there was a need for a change. The kids started spending more time on the ‘net’ in activities such a emailing.“Navaratna (Hindi. It offered Amar Chitra Katha Illustrated Classics. Soon afterwards.
there were reports that the character Suppandi from Tinkle was making headways to the silver screen. A General Entertainment Channel (GEC). the third objective was to license and co-develop proprietary content for films. 10 . By 2008. The Epics. and her adventures. the 17 18 ACK Media to launch Amar Chitra Katha website. In August.com/news/amar-chitra-katha-and-tinkle-to-entertain-kids-on-internet/57468-11-16. the company maintained that it will not change the inherent spirit of fun and Indianness. The site categorized the titles as Fables & Folktales. ACK Media created a new online store that offered all the titles for shipping worldwide. the Tinkle website was developed. ACK Media launched a website for Amar Chitra Katha as amarchitrakatha. CNN-IBN. 2008. The company acquired Bangalore based Quitemen Studio. with Suppandi as the main character with a budget of about INR 10 crore. The film initial launch date was November 2010. launch was supposed to be funded from the earnings of the IPO requiring an investment of INR 100 crore.com. In this initiative. In October 2009. To generate hype in the market about the animated offerings of ACK. There were reports of ACK Media coming up with IPO within the next 12-18 months. 2011. Most of the times he tries to run away from danger.availability of print and digital products across all the 500 retail stores that already had partnership with ACK Media and stocked their various offerings. 5 in 1 Titles and Special Issues. Second. But he always lands himself and others in trouble because of his insistence on thinking for himself. mobile and other emerging formats. so it decided to produce content for DTH and Home Video. “We made it more modern. on June 25. Kids will be able to relate to the games.html?xml. Mythology. 19 Suppandi is a village simpleton who works mostly as a household help. Humor and Wit. The focus changed from selling the comics to book stores to retailing the comics. By Hindol Sengupta.medianama. Available at http://ibnlive. TV. but due to some stroke of chance always end up as a hero. Biographies. Literary Classics. A new content and a new character were also introduced in Tinkle: a 12 year old girl called Nina. On September 2008. In 2007. The only difference which came with time was the enhanced quality of paper and print. 2008. junior version of the popular characters such as Shikari Shambu and Suppandi were developed much in the same way as in there was Junior Archie and Junior Disney Characters. Finally. Between 1991 and 2008 ACK was surviving on mostly reprinted earlier issues. However. 2008. an online store and innovative destination sites.”20 said Animator Savio Mascerenas. the company wanted to retain the Intellectual Property Rights for the animation. Animating content was started by ACK Media from Tinkle. 20 Amar Chitra Katha. it wanted to penetrate the market using new and better media including new online services.17 But before that. ACK made statements regarding the production of mobile games and web content around Nina. Later on. the company uploaded sneak peaks of characters like Shikari Shambu18 and Suppandi19 on YouTube. Jan 27. At around the same time. to focus on gaming and had plans to set up an animation studio in Mumbai. Aug 6. than being dictated by the orders of his master. ACK launched the Junior Series for children in the age grow of 4-6 years and 6-8 years were launched. Shikari (means Hunter) Shambu is a timid and lazy hunter whom the rest of the world perceives as brave and powerful hunter. ACK Media was supposed to produce a stereoscopic threedimensional (3D) animation film.in. http://www. This was done to increase the appeal of the brand among the segment which has just learned to read. Tinkle to entertain kids on Net. 3 in 1 Titles.com (Refer Exhibit XII for snapshot of website).
VP.”22 said Savita Pai (Savita). by Jayanthi Madhukar. ETHERMEDIA application features enable a rich media presentation in a user friendly and interactive format on the iPhone and iPod devices. Two of the brand new special issues were Bhagwat . “Mother Teresa was chosen as our come-back title because of the universality of her personality. was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Albania. Children should be taught these issues from a young age with a medium they appreciate. 2010. Available at http://www.”25 Pai wanted the comics to increase curiosity in the minds of children and dilute all the superstitions. by V.aspx?page=comments&action=translate§id=31&contentid=20100 82020100820195659472953d1b10&subsite= 23 iRemedi Corp was founded by veterans from Oracle and is based in Atlanta as on 2011. “This is a historic moment for both Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997).series consisted of 244 unique issues.htm on June 25. With this launch of a wide range of Amar Chitra Katha comics we have taken an important step towards bringing the world of Indian storytelling to the iPhone community. The reason for digitalization was the changing time as explained by Pai. DIGITIZING ACK MEDIA Amar Chitra Katha could achieve more access through online stores and mobile phones because of digitalization. 2004.26 Similar views were aired by Sridhar Bhat (Bhat). Available at http://www.com/printarticle. 2009. and is used to build interactive media applications for mobile content delivery. 2011. 24 ETHERMEDIA is a propreitary framework from iRemedi Corp.business-standard. 22 Love revives Indian comics: Mother Teresa brought to life in Amar Chitra Katha after four years. she founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta. Available at http://www. and Tinkle brought me a profusion of love from children. 21 11 . Amar Chitra Katha earned me a lot of respect. Apple’s iTunes Appstore stored the popular ACK titles. ACK Media as a justification behind the issue. August 20. May 22. These 244 issues were mostly republications from the original series. The company is an Apple approved developers for the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. the CEO and Founder of iRemedi Corp. and included only five new titles. The issue was priced at INR 40 (Refer Exhibit XIII for a snapshot of the Issue). They also have partnership with major media companies worldwide in iPhone based publishing. ACK-Media partnered with iRemedi Corp. ACK has enthralled millions of people from diverse culture and generations over the past four decades worldwide. 25 Tinkle Celebrates. Gangadhar. During the same period ACK also published a number of special issues.thehindu. ACK Media launched a new title called ‘Mother Teresa: Little Acts of Love’ to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Mother Teresa21. Business Standard. June 3. all but one a combination of earlier single issues. Most titles were made available for purchase at $1. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II and conferred the title Blessed Teresa of Calcutta following her demise. “We have to move with the times.com/thehindu/yw/2004/05/22/stories/2004052200010100.23 of Atlanta in mid 2009 to provide readers with iPhone and iPad platforms for reading Amar Chitra Katha comics on iRemedi’s ETHER MEDIA24 viewer solution.com/india/news/now-amar-chitra-katha-is-availableiphone-ipods/63591/on on June 25. “We are very excited to launch Amar Chitra Katha on iPhone for the International audience. iPods. She had spearheaded service to the poor. In addition to comics we are looking at creating new applications and games for this platform”.99 along with free previews to some titles as well. In August 2010 after a gap of four years.The Krishna Avatar and Ram Charita Manas which were never published earlier. Bangalore Mirror.bangaloremirror. 2011. Patil informed about the benefit of such a move in the launch. sick. A Catholic nun with an Indian citizenship. orphaned through the Missionaries of Charity's and was receipinet of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. 26 Now Amar Chitra Katha is available on iPhone. India in 1950.
com/news/amar-chitra-katha-and-tinkle-to-entertain-kids-on-internet/57468-11-16. Shikari Shambu. ROAD AHEAD By early 2011 Amar Chitra Katha was available through number of media: comics. it had to face competition from the established ones as well as leaders in their own product categories such as online games and online books. CNN-IBN. the bumbling hunter of countless Tinkle adventures. 2009. Available at http://comicrelated. the Indian marketplace had changed vastly over the last 30 odd years. Available at http://ibnlive. The reinvention would have an estimated cost around 15-20 million dollars spread over two years. videotape. new characters and even movies based on Amar Chitra Katha series. June 9. Keeping that aside for the time being. especially shows. It had sold over 100 million copies of about 440 titles till February 2011 and was selling three million comic books a year according to ACK Media.”28 said Patil in an interview. The type of stories that kids loved to read have also changed vastly from mythology to mystery and adventure. Being a new player in the digital world. For ACK this is a key milestone in bringing the classical Indian mythology and rich culture to the global community instantly in the amazing user experience with iPhones.” 27 Amar Chitra Katha now on iPhone and iPod. Jan 27. rather than to delight and entertain. Suppandi. “We see a lot of possibilities in terms of Amar Chitra Katha extensions for television.27 After Amar Chitra Katha exchanged hands with Samir Patil. 2011. Thus. The series was also alleged to have pro-Brahministic ideologies. Tinkle to entertain kids on Net. ‘The Classic Popular Amar Chitra Katha.ACK and iRemedi……………. magazines. we are confident ACK’s fans will share our excitement in enjoying ACK comics on the go. Many communities argued to be represented poorly in comics. 1967-2007’ alleged that the comic books were having a hidden agenda towards the propagation of Hindu communalism. it had been accused of offering more attention to few aspects of Indian history and favor to some of its readers than others. the simpleton was imparted an upgraded new look. Moreover. and vendors.html?xml. The liberalization of the Indian economy had brought in an influx of western comics and Indian tie-ups with western brands like DC and Marvel comics to publish western titles at Indian prices. children’s books. 12 .com/news/1778/ackon-iphone on June 25. the most important challenge ACK faced was that of the multimedia environment. ACK was also present at all major book retailers.in. small bookstores. the visionary behind Amar Chitra Katha was no more. The company started coming up with online games. 28 Amar Chitra Katha. Television serials. To add to all the issues. DVDs/VCDs (Refer Exhibit XIV for examples of some DVD Issues from ACK). 2011. The book. “to educate and influence. 2008. according to survey findings. As the series has progressed. it would be a tough task ahead of ACK to emerge as a winner and hold up to its essence which was. TV and print with new ideas. By Hindol Sengupta. The leisure activities of the children have changed drastically and they have a lot more options compared to their counterparts in the 1970’ and 1980’s. Amar Chitra Katha had stood to its own proclaimed standards. It was one of the best-selling children’s publications in the early 2011. came live on the Internet. The iPhone’s revolutionary platform brings limitless avenues for various dreams to become”. on June 25. a new life to Amar Chitra Katha was imparted by entering on the Internet.
which included the lovable characters “Suppandi. Pai. He studied at the University of Bombay. “Tantri the Mantri. Pai also authored a number of books on personality development for children and teenagers. After losing his parents. He was working on a project.” book which includes travelling exhibition and 40 defining moments from Indian history. “Glimpses of Glory. He also launched a series of audio book versions of Amar Chitra Katha stories. The book will be in print soon according to the spokeswoman for ACK media. Source: Complied from different sources. a dimwitted personality. He is survived by his wife Lalitha. Mr.” a scheming royal adviser. 13 . Department of Chemical Technology (now UICT) and was a dual degree holder from the University of Bombay. Later in his career in 1980 he launched Tinkle under Rang Rekha Features. he was also called as ‘Uncle Pai’ by kids as he signed handwritten letters to his young fans as ‘Uncle Pai’. started his career with The Times of India. Karnataka to parents Venkataraya and Susheela Pai. and the hunter “Shikari Shambhu. In 1969 Pai started Rang Rekha Features.” Affectionately. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the comic books convention held in New Delhi. particularly Amar Chitra Katha series. India’s first comic book and cartoon syndicate. he moved to Mumbai at the 12 and studied in Orient School.Exhibit I: A Note on Anant Pai Anant Pai was a renowned educationalist and mind behind the Indian comics. quit his job to start the Amar Chitra Katha along with the India Book House publishers. He was born in Karkala. Mahim. playing the role of narrator-storyteller.
The Amar Chitra Katha Logo Source: http://cuttingthechai.wordpress.silkqin.com/2008/09/amar-chitra-katha-logo.jpg Exhibit III.jpg?w=150 14 .Exhibit II.com/13pers/pics/ack011.files. The First Issue of Amar Chitra Katha Source: http://www.
Exhibit IV.com/13pers/pics/ack1to10.jpg 15 .silkqin. One of the First Advertisement of Amar Chitra Katha (Multilingual) Source: http://www.
Exhibit V: Titles available under Amar Chitra Katha in 1986 Genre of Titles Mythology Sanskrit Classics Folk Tales and Legends Teachers and Saints Buddhist Tales Tales form Ancient Indian History Regional Classics Great Women of India Makers of Modern India The Mughals and their Adversaries The Sikhs The Rajputs Poets and Musicians Jaina Tales The Marathas Tales from Medieval Indian History The Indian Revolutionaries Glimpses of 1857 Scientists and Doctors Monuments and Battles Heroes who fought the British Total Source: Compiled from different sources. Number of Titles 90 12 56 27 24 14 13 13 13 10 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 4 3 2 329 16 .
ggpht.Exhibit VIA: First Issue of Tinkle Source: http://lh3.com/_Hp_w4URX2Ko/SlC_S1IXNpI/AAAAAAAADvQ/Q_DlpEU-rPM/Tinkle%20No1%5B6%5D.jpg 17 .
Exhibit VIB: A Note on Tinkle According to Pai. Kapish is a monkey which saves his friends from danger using his skills and intelligence. clearly positioning it as a magazine which combines information/knowledge with fun. Dattu and Motu and their adventures Suppandi Tantri the Mantri The Dumbbells Source: Collected From Different Online Sources 18 . the telephone tinkled. Tinkle Pre-Schooler.com was launched before the website for Amar Chitra Katha. The magazine contains comics. Anecdotes of a mischievous kid very similar to Dennis The Menace Indian version of Charlie Chaplin where funny stories come along with a social message. new articles (labeled as Tinkle Times). The Tagline for Tinkle is “where learning meets fun”. The site contains following tabs – ‘Create your avatar’. Tales of three friends Nattu. The Tinkle website www. Tinkle comes in three formats: Tinkle Magazine. contests. Tantri is a cunning minister who is always plotting to get rid of the king Hooja but always falls into his own trap. ‘It Happened to Me’ section wherein readers send in their true life incidents. Tinkle Junior Animation. It includes new stories. Tinkle Holiday Special. ‘Meet friends’ and ‘Exchange cards’. contests and other features targeted at school children. he named the magazine Tinkle “because every time we held a meeting to decide the name of the magazine.” The winner of the Amar Chitra Katha story telling contest eight year old Elaine D’Lima launched the first issue of the magazine. puzzles. It is published in English and translated in many Indian languages. The Amar Chitra Katha website also offers readers buying option for Tinkle with various other formats including the three earlier formats viz. Tinkle Digest contains past issues stories from Tinkle and Tinkle Double Digest has twice the number of pages than Tinkle Digest. So that was the obvious choice. Kalia is an intelligent crow who foils the plans of nasty Chamataka (Jackal) and Doob-doob (Crocodile) to kill the animals of the jungle and eat them. Tinkle magazine is a monthly magazine for kids. quizzes. Exhibit VIC: Some Stand Alone Characters in TINKLE. Character Ajay The Detective Anwar Chaman Charlie Kalia the Crow Kapish Nasruddin Hodja Pyarelal Ramu and Shamu Shikari Shambu Description Ajay is a kid detective who helps solve mind baffling crimes with tiny clues. Tinkle Toddler. Similar to stories of Iznogoud. Shambu is scared of wild animals but always manages to capture the said animals out of pure chance.. Short stories of an incompetent and dim-witted boy whose activities create embarrassment and trouble for his employers. Tinkle Time Compass. Tinkle Digest and Tinkle Double Digest. Legendary anecdotes of the middle eastern wit Nasruddin Hodja Chronicles of a village simpleton (Pyarelal) and his wife Lajoo Short tales of mischief of twin brothers Ramu and Shamu Shambu is a dimwitted and timid hunter who is usually hired by villagers or zoo officials to capture an escaped or lost animal. Similar to Kalia the Crow. ‘Rhythm and Hues’ where readers send in their original poetry and artworks and ‘You Be The Detective’ where readers are suppose to solve cases.Tinkle Special.Tinkleonline. Tinkle Treasure.
Exhibit VII. Early Advertisements of Amar Chitra Katha in The Back Cover of Issues Source: Collected From Different Online Sources 19 .
Product Advertisements Published in Amar Chitra Katha Source: Collected From Different Online Sources 20 .Exhibit VIII.
Advertisement of Amar Chitra Katha Narrated LP Records Source: www.pyareetoons.Exhibit IX.com 21 .
com and other online sources.Types of Books Single Volumes 3 in 1 Bundles Bumper Issues 5 in 1 Bundles Special Editions Exhibit X: Types of Books from ACK Examples The Pandavas in Hiding The Prophecy & other stories Jesus Christ Brave Women of India Mahabharata (3 vol. hardbound set) Approx Price 40 INR 100 INR 100 INR 240 INR 1250 INR Single Issue 3 in 1 Bundle Bumper Issue 5 in 1 Bundle Special Edition Source: Created from information from www.amarchitrakatha. 22 .
pdf Exhibit XIB.Exhibit XIA. Trend of TV Penetration in India Source: India’s Pay TV Market (2000-2013) Report by Screen Digest.com/press/releases/pdf/PR-IndianpayTV-170909.screendigest. http://www. Trend of Internet Penetration in India 80 70 60 Internet Users (millions) 50 40 30 20 10 0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: Created by authors from data published by The World Bank 23 .
Exhibit XII: Snapshot from Amar Chitra Katha Website Source: http://www.amarchitrakatha.com/ 24 .
amarchitrakatha.Exhibit XIII: The new Title by Amar Chitra Katha Source: http://www.com/best-deals/mother-teresa 25 .
com/products/ACK-Animation 26 .amarchitrakatha.Exhibit XIV: Amar Chitra Katha CDs\DVDs Source: Complied from http://www.
php?file=story&id=2305 on Spetember 10. J. A. [Online]. (Non-English).in/2007/11/22/stories/2007112250170500. ACK Media buys Amar Chitra Katha. animationxpress. (2009. The Classic Popular Amar Chitra Katha (1967-2007). (2003). Today’s Comic Culture in India.hindu. 2011.aspx?Page=article§name=Entertainment%20 -%20Etc§id=31&contentid=2010082020100820195659472953d1b10 on May 28. August). The Hindu. N. (2008). Madhukar.business- standard. BangaloreMirror.REFERENCE Barth.bangaloremirror. Accessed from http://www. November).com. Interview with ACK Media CEO Samir Patil.htm on May 17. December). Bharrati. 27 . Godbole. Tinkle Celebrates. (2008). Kumar.com. In India.html?pagewanted=all on September 10. (2007.com/index.com/latest-news/internet-hashampered-the-reading-habits-of-students/353890/ on May 29. India Book House and Amar Chitra Katha (1970-2002). Tinkle brands. (2010. Yoda Press: India.com/india/news/amar-chitra-katha-cartoon-strip-suppandi-tobecomemovie/372208/ on May 25. Express News Service. (2008. 2011. The New York Times. The Hindu Businessline.de/uni-wuerzburg/volltexte/2008/2789 on May 25. Amar Chitra Katha cartoon strip “Suppandi” to become a movie.com/yw/2004/05/22/stories/2004052200010100. Accessed from http://www. Accessed from http://www. (2007. (July 19. 34 (1). 2011. New Life for Comic Books as TV Cartoons.animationxpress. Internet has hampered the reading habits of children.expressindia. 2011. Interview with ACK Media CEO Samir Patil.opus-bayern. 2011. V. V.com.com/index.nytimes. Businessline. Accessed from http://www. ABD. The Business Standard. 2011. Gangadhar. 2011. Chandra. Accessed from http://www. October). Bajaj. Accessed from http://www. 2011.com/2009/07/20/business/global/20comics. Accessed from http://www. 2009). Accessed from http://www. Love revives Indian comics: Mother Teresa brought to life in Amar Chitra Katha after four years.htm on May 25. (2004. N. 6-7. M. P. May).thehindubusinessline. Expressindia. August).
Macau. January). Accessed from http://ibnlive. (2009. and Maybe an IPO. N.html on May 25. Accessed from http://blogs. (2009. August). Pritchett. (2009).medianama. 2011.indiatimes. Nina. Amar Chitra Katha. Newswire7. 76-106. Amar Chitra Katha creator dies at 81. Pahwa.com/news/amar-chitra-katha-tinkle-toentertain-kids-on-net/57468-11. H. Accessed from http://www.cms on May 15. Tinkle to Entertain kids on Net. August). Accessed from http://timesofindia. October). ACK Media to Launch Amar Chitra Katha Site.com/news/amar-chitra-katha-to-make-its-tv-debut- soon/99031-8. 2011. ACK Media launches amarchitrakatha.medianama. ACK Media partners iRemedi for content delivery on iPhone. 2011.wsj. 2011. February).com/press/releases/pdf/PR-IndianpayTV-170909. Accessed from http://www. (2009. (ch 4).in. W. F. Accessed from http://ibnlive. N.medianewsline. V. A Survey of Reading Habits of School Going Children in Delhi City. ibnline. Now Amar Chitra Katha gets even younger.screendigest. Malaviya. Medianama.com/city/mumbai/Now-Amar-Chitra- Katha-gets-even-younger/articleshow/5129055. September). CNN-IBN. (2011.com.in. Eyes GEC Space. (1997).com/news/139/ARTICLE/4626/2009-06- 02. The Wall Street Journal. Singh. M. Screen Digest. Sengupta. 2011. The World of Amar Chitra Katha in Media and the transformation of religion in South Asia.com. Pahwa. 2011. Medianama. Ltd: New Delhi. Amar Chitra Katha to make its TV debut soon. Accessed from http://www. (2008.com/indiarealtime/2011/02/25/amar-chitra-kathas-creatordies-at-81/?mod=google_news_blog on May 15. (2008.in.com. India’s Pay TV Market (2000-2013) Report by Screen Digest. China. Paper presented at the IBBY Congress 2006 (September). Accessed from http://www.com/2008/09/223-ack-media-launches- amarchitrakathacom/ on May 25.pdf on May 20. Babb and Susan S. June).html?from=rssfeed on May 29. Indiatimes. 2011. R. Wadley. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Pvt. (2008.com. First Indian Edition. D. Laurence A.com/2008/08/223-ack-media-to-launch-amar-chitra-katha-sitenina-eyes-gec-space-and-maybe-an-ipo/ on May 25. (2006). eds.com.Mahaldar.html on May 29. Sahni. 28 . 2011.
com/ http://www. Web References http://www.worldbank.com/ http://data.com/ http://www. shot for a documentary on Indian comics history.com/2011/03/04/excerptsfrom-a-2009-video-interview-with-the-father-of-indian-comics-uncle-pai-shot-for-adocumentary-on-indian-comics-history/ on May 29.tinkle. Uncle Pai. March). 2011. Excerpts from a 2009 video interview with the father of Indian comics. Accessed from http://whistlingwoodsinternational. (2009.ack-media.wordpress.org/country/india 29 .Whistling Woods International.diamondcomic.
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