Pran, the creator of India's aam aadmi superheroes, no more

Cartoonist Pran, the creator of the iconic Indian comic book character Chacha Chaudhary, died today in New Delhi. He was 75 years old.

Pran Kumar Sharma, according the website www.chachachaudhary.com, was the first Indian artist-writer to come up with comic books whose protagonists were characters rooted deep in Indian rural and middle class ethos. His most popular creation was of course Chacha Chaudhary, a short, frail-looking man in a huge red pagdi, who fought everyone from thugs to pretty crooks with elan. He had for company a giant man called Saboo, apparently from Jupiter.

Chacha Chaudhary, created in 1971, was a landmark work given how it fused sci-fi, filmy action and Indian middle class oddities, to offer a wholesome entertainer for people across ages.

Pran was born in Kasur near Lahore, in undivided India. He completed his bachelors degree in political science from Gwalior. He then went on to study art in the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, but left the course midway.

Pran. IBN Live.

Pran. IBN Live.

He began working as a cartoonist in 1960 in Indian dailies.

Pran's body of work includes other comics like Billoo, Pinki, Raman, Shrimatiji. He later created a separate series of comics on Saboo, Chacha Chaudhary's assistant.

All his characters had one thing in common. They were superheroes in their own small ways - while Billoo was an insufferably naughty boy, he was extremely sharp and could wriggle out of any soup he was in. Pinki, another of Pran's character, was again a small girl, who was extremely brave and ready to take up challenges. Chaudhary, famously, was said to have a brain 'which worked faster than a computer'.

Pran's superheroes were complete antithetical to the construct of the superhero popularised by say a Marvel Comics in the West. Most of Pran's characters did not possess any super-powers - they were average humans who used their brains well. Chaudhary's superheroes, essentially, were ideal human beings and looked and sounded like any of us. No wonder then, they were household names and were loved by generations of comic book lovers in India.

Later, several of Pran's works were animated, turned into cartoon films etc. However, his works still draw sustenance from the comic book format and is hugely popular among the middle classes.

The Chacha Chaudhary website says about Pran, "He travelled widely over the globe including countries like America, England, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, China, S.Korea etc he delivered speeches to the gatherings of cartoonists on the subject wherever he went."

Pran, the website quotes, had said, "If I could put a smile on the face of people, I would consider my life successful."

Chances are he will continue being a success, long after he is gone.


Updated Date: Aug 06, 2014 12:56 PM

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