Be it Chacha Choudhary, or Billoo, or Pinki, or even Shrimati Ji, these are the household names and a beautiful legacy left behind by Pran Kumar Sharma.
Born in Kasur, British India on August 15, 1938, Pran Kumar Sharma was an Indian cartoonist who now permanently resides in the hearts of millions of Indian comic fans.
Following are some of the tidbits from the life of an Indian cartoonist:
1. Pran Kumar Sharma is called the “Walt Disney of India”
Picture credit: V. Sudershan
He was titled so in the World Encyclopaedia of Comics.
2. His career as a cartoonist began in 1960 with the comic strip ‘Daabu’
The comic strip featuring the characters of a teenage boy Daabu and Prof. Adhikari used to be printed in the Delhi-based newspaper Milap, and it was a completely Indian comic creation at a time when in the name of comics, reprints of foreign comics ( like The Phantom and Superman) dominated the Indian comic scenario.
3. In 1969, Pran created India’s very own superhero.
Chacha Chaudhary, the very authentic Indian superhero, first appeared in the magazine Lotpot, and from that time in the history till today, the character is loved unanimously. The character gave Pran the first taste of fame as an Indian cartoonist. Chacha Chaudhary marked the beginning and soon, Billoo, Pinki, Shrimatiji, Raman, Channi Chachi came into existence. The result? We all keep re-reading them till date.
And the lines “Chacha Chaudhary ka dimaag computer se bhi tez chalta hai” and, “Sabu ko jab gussa aata hai to kahin jwalamukhi phatata hai” still continue to make us smile.
Aside from our hearts, Chacha Choudhary comic strip has found a permanent home in the International Museum of Cartoon Art, USA.
4. And did you know that Akshay Kumar was featured in a special edition of Chacha Choudhary comic?
This was for the promotion of his movie Boss.
5. All his characters told the tales of regular Indians, and that’s what has kept their popularity alive till date.
Chacha Choudhary wasn’t muscular and didn’t possess any superpowers. He used brain power to solve trivial issues, he was an Indian comic hero after all. Sabu, his sidekick, on the other hand, did the work of kicking and throwing and slamming.
And so is the case with the comic Shrimatiji (which was created before Chacha Choudhary), about whom the Indian graphic novelist Vishwajoyoti Ghosh was once quoted as saying, “She was the only female comic character of the time who spoke of urban middle-class issues.”
Billoo and Pinki too resembled the mischievous kids that can be found any and every where in India, even aboard the trains.
Pran’s Putti and Raman were published in Kannada daily Prajavani and Shrimathi.
6. In 1995, he was given the “People of the Year” award.
Pran gave Indian comic scene its very own significance in Indian history. People of all ages appreciated his work immensely; his comics were, after all, stress busters and a refreshing company to hang out with. And so it was only natural for Limca Book of world records to award him with “People of the year” award. Thitholi award (1982) and Rajdhani Ratan award (1997) are a couple of other gems that adorned his crown.
In 2001, the then CM of Karnataka, Mr. S.M. Krishna awarded Pran, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
7. In 1983, was released Pran’s “Raman – Ham Ek Hain” by the then PM of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The motive of the comic was to promote national integration.
8. If you wish to weigh his popularity in numbers, then over 400 published comics and…
… over 2,00,000 drawings would be a right way to do so.
9. The man was well at work until his last days
After living the aptly deserved limelight for about 40 years, Pran retired to his Delhi studio where he continued to work for 8 hours every day. He worked, even when his body succumbed to a terminal disease. He worked till the day before he was hospitalized. He worked on a comic for 3 days even while he was hospitalized. He sure was a workaholic like no other.
Aged 75, Pran lost his battle against death to colon cancer and passed away on August 5, 2014, at a hospital in Gurgaon. Pran became the posthumous recipient of the fourth-highest civilian award of India, Padma Shri in 2015.
Thanks to the colourful Indian characters he left behind, Pran keeps us smiling till date.