As Karadi Tales, the popular ’90s audio-book series, completes 20 years, we find their formats have evolved, but the stories remain Indian.
Welcome to my jungle. I am Karadi, the bear. Stories and adventures with you I will share…” went the theme song for Karadi Tales. For the generation that grew up in the ’90s, this song is likely to bring back a flood of memories.
Karadi Tales audiobooks — which featured stories from the Panchatantra and Jataka Tales and were narrated by actor Naseeruddin Shah — were an integral part of childhoods. In 2000, Karadi Tales added picture books to its repertoire.
Now in its 20th year (it set up shop on June 26, 1996), the Chennai-based company has adapted with changes in technology — from cassettes to audio CDs and DVDs, to e-videobooks. “In 2009, animated Karadi Tales stories were aired on Disney India. We are currently in the process of developing an iPad app,” says Shobha Viswanath (53), co-founder and publishing director, Karadi Tales. Viswanath was in the city to launch two new picture books — The Lion’s Feast (with two alternate endings, and some blank space for a child to write down their own ending) and The Night Monster (about a child’s fear of the night).
While Karadi Tales has moved with the times, the philosophy remains the same. The stories continue to be distinctly Indian. “The characters, narrative and settings are still inspired by our cultural heritage. Even the music is based on classical ragas,” says Viswanath.
However, she says that the newer books — created by young Indian writers and illustrators — reflect the stories they have been exposed to. Take for instance, a recent picture book, The Dragon’s Toothache. “A dragon is not necessarily a part of Indian folklore,” Viswanath points out. “But then, the child protagonist in it is not blond-haired and blue-eyed. She is in Indian clothes,” Viswanath says.
The Lion’s Feast (Rs 245) and The Night Monster (Rs 395) are available on karaditales.com