Anant Pai, better known as Uncle Pai, passed away at the SR Mehta and Kikabhai Hospital, Sion, on Thursday at the age of 81. Pai created the famous Indian comic strip Amar Chitra Katha or Tinkle that inspired an entire generation of kids through his books, which were based on events and lives of figures from Indian mythology, religion and history. Just recently, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at a Comic Convention in New Delhi.
Says Cyrus Broacha, “I am quite upset and a little sad by the death of Uncle Pai. When I was a kid, I used to go to my grandma’s house in Kala Ghoda. She would bind all these comics and store them for me. Then there was a Kashmiri family staying next to her house that would join in on reading the comics with me. I learnt a lot of things through these comics, like Rana Pratap and all. Uncle Pai was a personal friend of the young.” Pai was born in Karnataka and migrated to Mumbai at the age of 12. In the 1950s, he joined The Times of India, working at Indrajal Comics, which managed characters like Phantom and Mandrake The Magician. In 1967, Pai partnered with India Book House's GL Mirchandani and launched Amar Chitra Katha, which made characters like Suppandi, Shikari Shambu and Tantri the Mantri household names.
Says Rahul Bose, “Amar Chitra Katha was meant for all classes and ages. It was always part of my childhood. It was the only thing we had. It told us our history in a very interesting way. In a way, I am a child in Amar Chitra Katha.”
Social networking sites have been flooded with tweets and posts about the demise of Pai from celebrities and commoners alike. “Uncle Pai taught me as much or more than school did. I know Indian history/mythology primarily because of the comics. If I ran a channel/newspaper, he'd be the top headline all day,” said Vishal Dadlani, who was one of the first to write about the death of Pai. Late Thursday evening, Pai’s last rites were performed at the Shivaji Park Crematorium. “Rest in peace Uncle Pai, creator of the most popular comic Tinkle. One of my first books I read as a kid. Hope Tinkle continues printing more books, so that they are around when my kids come by,” says Eesha Koppikhar.