They say you never realize the worth of a person until you lose him. Same is the case with the sad demise of the legendary cartoonist Pran. The characters created by him were so much part of our daily lives in 1980’s, that we never bothered about who created them.
I remember that I started reading his cartoons before I could make out that प्रा 0I written is actually Pran and I pronounced it as “Pra zero one”. In those days, newspaper hawker was the most awaited person in the first week of the month (on 15th also, if the magazine was fortnightly) and the first item to be read in any children’s magazine was invariably the comic strip by Pran. Even in the women’s magazine “sarita”, there was a comic strip Shrimatiji, which was the most sought after column by the children.
We learnt that “Chacha Chaudhary ka dimaag computer se bhi tez chalta hai (Chacha Chaudhary’s mind acts faster than a computer)” before we actually saw a computer. Also, the little fights chacha Chaudhary had with Chachi tickled the readers. His faithful follower Sabu, who had come from some other planet, always fascinated children with his enormous size and strength. The way Chachji and Chachiji cared for him amused us.
Billu had an immortal rivalry with Bajarangi pahalwan, but still Bajrangi turned to Billu for advice many times. This shows that they are common people like us, not taking trivial fights seriously.
And there was Pinky with her squirrel Kutkut! A bubbly neighbourhood girl, who never missed a chance to show her wisdom. Whenever she reached Jhapat ji’s house or tauji’s house, they used to say,”aa gai musibat(here comes the trouble)”
I even remember that during my Engineering college exams, I used to read the diamond comics to take a break from studies. I even used to fund my school- going cousin to bring them from a local library. Instead of being hooked to a novel or serious literature, it was a much better idea to read the comics, as they worked as great stress relievers.
When my daughter was in KG, I was worried about her poor Hindi reading skills. Billu, Pinky and Chacha Chaudhary helped a lot to improve her Hindi reading. I used to buy these comics for her during long train journeys which appeared too short with these interesting books.
All the characters of Pran were common people. The situations described appeared so familiar that the readers could completely relate to them. The simplicity of characters and situations was a unique quality of his comics. I still enjoy telling narratives from his comics to my family.
My daughter still has a large collection of Pran’s comics at home. She never lets me discard them, as she is too attached to them even at the age of 16! Now my son is carrying on the family tradition of growing up with Billu, Pinky and Chacha Chaudhary!
R.I.P. Pranji! Though you are no more in this world, you will always remain in our hearts through your immortal creations.