Modern, realistic, critical of social evils and emotional are few of the traits one associates with the works of Munshi Premchand. By the time we complete school, most of would have read at least one story written by the noted Premchand, mostly in the form of a chapter in our textbook.
Two such humane stories will now be available to the readers in a refreshing, new format, the comic. The book is the latest Hindi release by India’s best selling children’s publication, Amar Chitra Katha (ACK).
Titled ‘Budhi Kaki & Do Bael’, the comic will be launched at the World Book Fair on February 20. This is not the first time ACK has forayed into the contemporary classics section. Earlier, they had introduced Ruskin Bond’s The Blue Umbrella and Angry River.
“ACK has been doing classics since 1970’s but were mostly based on works of writers from the past. The idea behind introducing contemporary writers is to create awareness among children about classics written in the last 100 years,“ Reena Puri, editor of ACK says.
On selection of the stories, Reena says, “A lot of research goes went behind the selction. The message put forth through these two stories is very relevant even now.”
The yet to be released comic is targeted at the age-group eight to 14 years has two interesting stories.
Budhi Kaki, the story of an old childless widow who bequeaths her entire property to her nephew and his family who start mistreating her, carries the message of the importance of respecting elders.
Do Bael, on the other hand, tells of the vitality of treating every living thing with compassion.
Explaining why Premchand is a pertinent novelist, chief operating officer of ACK, Manas Mohan says, “When you read his stories, you rediscover your human side and by the time you complete reading, you actually feel a lot happier.”
In an age when children are exposed to interactive forms of storytelling, the print format still seems to be in vogue at least in India. Manas says, “India is one of the few countries where readership of print forms is gradually going up. Digital format might eventually take over the print, but as of know print is here to stay.”
Reena adds that, stories are eternal and most people still prefer the printed form.
The biggest challenges though, in Reena’s opinion is the catering to the wide audience.
“Youngsters who read our comics around 15-20 years ago are parents now and they are quite different from their kids who read the comics now. It is a tightrope we are walking on and striking a balance between the expectations of both the parents and their kids.”