Chandamama, the eminently readable magazine that has enthralled kids and adults for decades in many languages, is seeking an entry in the Limca Book of Records for its long life.
Since its first print-run in 1947, Ambulimama - the Tamil version that was the first to be launched - today sells 200,000 copies a month. The publishers now plan to preserve the series by digitising it.
Apart from Hindi and English, the magazine is printed in 14 languages including Bengali, Assamese, Gujarat, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
There are also bilingual editions. One such edition, in English and Tamil, is exported to Singapore.
Says B. Viswanatha Reddy, editor and publisher: "My father wanted future generations to benefit from Indian mythology. That is how the idea of the book came up."
His father filmmaker Nagi Reddy, who used to publish Andhra Jyothi from Chennai, collaborated with writer Chakrapani and began publishing Ambulimama in Tamil.
"It was an instant hit. We are trying to reprint some stories published in the early editions," the 63-year-old editor recalls.
|The Hindi edition of the very popular magazine Chandamama|
The Bengali edition, Chandomama, came out soon after as Chakrapani knew Bengali.
Each language edition, including English that was a late entrant, became a hit with kids - and adults too.
By the 1980s the magazine's combined circulation was 900,000 copies per month. A Chandamama in Braille was brought out in 1981.
The Sindhi, Sinhala and Gurmukhi editions that followed were flops. In 1984, the first Sanskrit edition was published.
A fire destroyed the old editions and only one set remains. There was more bad news in 1998 when Reddy fell ill and the publication was suspended for a while.
Their friends Sudhir Rao of Karvy and Vinod Sethi of Morgan Stanley came to their rescue and the company was back in business by 1999.
In 2002, the group came out with a new magazine, Junior Chandamama, for children below the age of nine.
"The journey has been long and arduous but then everyone loves Ambulimama," says Chandamama's consultant editor K. Ramakrishnan.
There is even talk of collaboration with the Walt Disney group.
"We have known the Disney group for a long time, our company was distributor for Disney in India earlier," Reddy says.
But Reddy does not want the quality of the content changed. "My father and Chakrapani were very particular about that," Reddy says.
To help children learn their mother tongue, the story is written in the Tamil as well as the Roman scripts, with an English translation. The stories also come with glossaries unlike the Spiderman or Superman comics.
There is also an English-Hindi as well as English-Gujarati bilingual edition for North America.