Immortal toons

Immortal toons

In 1967, Anant Pai founded the comic series Amar Chitra Katha, believing that values are taught best through entertainment. His small group of artists and he drew the contours of Indian myths, epics and heroes to familiarize children with their rich heritage. Four decades later, Pai’s heroes are ready to make an animated debut on Cartoon Network.

It was in August that Cartoon Network and Amar Chitra Katha, now ACK Media, inked a deal to animate select ACK titles. They are now ready with 26 half-hour episodes of stories about Kumbhkaran, Arjun, Vishnu, Shivaji, etc—and will start airing them from 28 March.

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The partnership has also resulted in two animated films—Tripura: The Three Cities of Maya and Sons of Rama—which will be released later this year.

Samir Patil, the CEO and founder of ACK Media, has been aggressive in his efforts to make the comics available on newer platforms such as video-game consoles, iPhones and home videos. The next natural step, according to him, was animation.

In turn, Turner International, which owns Cartoon Network and Pogo, has been steadily turning to local content to consolidate its viewership. Starting with Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Ram, acquired by Turner in 1991, the company has collected several titles that deal with Indian mythology, fables and history. Monica Tata, Turner’s vice-president and deputy GM, says the popularity of shows such as Chhota Bheem and Krishna is proof of the strategy’s success. Acquiring ACK titles and animating them was part of this strategy, says Tata.

For viewers, the series promises to be a treat. The animation is simple yet classy and the storylines are tight and suspense-filled. The series manages to wed the nostalgia of a previous era of comics with the demands of contemporary storytelling. Tata says this was done bearing in mind that adults form 40% of the channel’s viewership base. “It was important to cater to the older generation since they are the bigger fans of these comics," she says.

Amar Chitra Katha animated series goes on air at 11am on 28 March on Cartoon Network and will be available in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.