A large cutout of Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu adorns the wall of the spartan studio-cum-office of Pran, the creator of the wise, old Chacha Chaudhary, the most recognisable Indian comic superhero for more than three decades. Apart from Chacha Chaudhary, Pran is the man behind many other popular Indian comic characters: Sabu, Shrimatiji, Pinki.
No wonder then Maurice Horn, the editor of World Encyclopedia of Comics has called him the Walt Disney Of India. His Chacha Chaudhuary strip has been acquired for display by the International museum of cartoon art in Florida, US.
Pran, 72, is still a busy man. He works from 10 am to 6 pm at his studio and brings out 8 new comics every year. And he still works with a pencil, brush and ink instead of a computer.
“I created Chacha Chaudhary,” he says, “because those days our children had no Indian comic superhero. And children in smaller towns could not relate to western characters like Superman, Calvin, Hobbes and Phantom,” he says.
Does Chacha Chaudhary still appeal to children as much as it did 15 years back. “Yes, because I keep changing the stories with changing times. Earlier, Chacha Chaudhary comics revolved around pick-pockets, tricksters; now they are about plane hijacking, bomb blasts, etc. In fact, children often visit my home with their parents,” laughs Pran.
His favourite comic character? “Blondie, created by Chic Young.”