Pran Kumar Sharma, the creator of the beloved Chacha Chaudhary Comics, passed away early on Wednesday morning at a hospital in Gurgaon. He was 75. The news of the demise of the creator of India’s very own original superhero, (Chacha Chaudhary, whose brain works faster than a computer!) was a hard hit to many of us, who have fond childhood memories of poring over these comics, oft over many a summer afternoon, or through long train journeys. With a career spanning five decades, the iconic cartoonist will truly be missed.
We bring our readers a tribute from Aritra Das, a member of Pran Kumar Sharma’s legal representation, who, as IP enthusiasts may be interested to know, has been engaged for copyright disputes over the Chacha Chaudhary and other associated cartoons! (To avoid potentially troubling interpretations, the posting of this tribute is meant in no way to ‘support’ either side of these on going disputes!)
One of India’s most successful Indian cartoonists Pran Kumar Sharma passed away on Wednesday. Pran was the man behind the famous comic series Chacha Chaudhary. His others famous characters included cartoons like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman, Channie Chachi and many more.
For some of us who knew him the best and lovingly called him “Pran Sahab”, his demise is a very sad day. He was a man of impeccable character, full of life, humorous, strong nationalist sentiments and immense faith in Indian’s judiciary
Pran Sahab was born on August 15, 1938 in a small town Kasur, now in Pakistan. His family moved to Gwalior after partition of the country. He graduated with a Master of Arts (Political Science) degree and then completed a four-year course in Fine Arts from Sir JJ School of Arts, Mumbai.
Pran Sahab began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper Milap with comic strip Daabu. In 1969, he sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine Lotpot, which went on to make him famous.
When I met him first, regarding his cases, I could not resist myself from demonstrating the immense love for his cartoons that I had as a child (and probably even today) and asked him “…why did you name your lead character Chacha Chaudhary ?
Pran Sahab was quick to respond
“…Considering the stories in my comic books which are usually staged to villages and small towns in India, the lead character was named Chacha Chaudhary as the word “Chacha” in Hindi means paternal uncle, while “Chaudhary” is a term used for big landlords or the most honorable, elderly or a respectable person in small villages or towns in India for various communities like jat, gurjar, ahir etc….”
Chacha Chaudhary, is a middle class Indian, frail but an extremely intelligent old man. Chacha Chaudhary’s characterization, is around middle class typical Indian metro surroundings of the 1970s and 1980s, which has kept evolving with time. His attire includes his trademark red turban, a wooden stick, a waistcoat with a double inside pocket, and a pocket watch. His household consists of his wife Bini (Chachi), a faithful street dog called Rocket and a giant called Sabu. There are several typical traits of this character which includes the fact that he enjoys eating watermelon with relish, and takes off for a walk with Sabu and Rocket, whenever Chachi nags him.
Pran Sahab was included in People of the year 1995 by Limca Book of Records for popularizing comics in India. In 1983, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi released the Pran Saheb’s comics “Raman – Ham Ek Hain” which promoted national integration. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award 2001, from the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, and was also given the title of “Walt Disney of India” in The World Encyclopedia of Comics. The Chacha Chaudhary strips find permanent place in International Museum of Cartoon Art, USA. And he recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Comic Con India, 2014. (video here)
Unfortunately, very few people know that there are three big disputes (with Diamond Comics- Pran Sharma’s previous publisher) on the issue of ownership in these cartoons
Diamond Comics claims that Pran Sahab assigned/exclusively licensed Chacha Chaudhary and other associated cartoons to Diamond Comics in 1995, in a suit filed before the Tiz Hazari Court (Civil Suit No 7/2014) which initially granted Diamond Comics an ad interim injunction by an order dated 11.02.2014
This order was carried out in an appeal before the Delhi High FAO 61/2014, which by an order dated 03.03.2014 (Valmiki Mehta J) has “stayed” the operation of the ad interim injunction passed by the Tis Hazari Court. The appeal has been admitted and set for final hearing.
Pran has in turn filed a suit in the Delhi High Court, claiming Diamond to be infringing the copyright in his cartoons in a number of ways including republication of old comics, compilation in the form of digest, digitalizing the comics, unauthorized use of comics in promotions of products and movies and distortion, mutilation modification of his cartoons.
We represent Pran Sahab in the Delhi High Courts, and pray that “justice be done” to this man, who has made us laugh as a child through his cartoons.