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Amar Chitra Katha to be reborn as TV cartoon

Mumbai, July 20 : Samir Patil, just like any other Indians of 80s, grew up on the diet of comic books published by Amar Chitra Katha, and now he is planning broadcast animated version of Indian-style Aesop's fables.

Patil, 38, a former McKinsey consultant, recalls how those stories, based on religious parables and biographies of historical figures, taught him about the great, and lesser-known, stories of India in a didactic format meant for young audiences.

Patil, who acquired the publisher two years ago, is betting that he can do the same for a new generation of Indian children who have been raised watching TV, sending text messages and surfing the Web, The New York Times reports.

Patil expects the shows to appear first on the Cartoon Network in India, and he is negotiating deals with the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.

Patil's team of software and animation experts in Bangalore recently released an online multiplayer game, The Legend of Katha.

The sales and wide popularity of Amar Chitra Katha comics had fallen sharply in the years before Patil and a partner, Shripal Morakhia, acquired the publisher.

Now, Patil hopes to take advantage of a vacuum in children's entertainment in India's otherwise bountiful media market.

Amar Chitra Katha sells about three million comic books a year, in English and more than 20 Indian languages. It has sold about 100 million copies since it was founded in 1967 by a newspaper executive, Anant Pai, 80.

"The moving finger writes. What is really important is providing role models. A nation marches ahead, provided it has role models," said Pai, whom many Indians, including prime ministers, affectionately call "Uncle Pai."

Other industry officials caution that it will take time for comic book publishers to succeed in other media.

However, Patil is ready to take the much needed risk: "I realized that if I don't take a risk now, I risk forever thinking about the kind of things that we could have done. My experience at McKinsey around media and technology convinced me that there is an opportunity to take some of these brands that have been locked into their old worlds and truly rediscover them in other forms." (ANI)

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