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Move over Batman, Superman and Spiderman. This New Year, let’s introduce the original every man whose brain is faster than a supercomputer to those little young adults. I sat down and did a small survey. I called up both my maternal and paternal aunts to find out which of my cousins was actually aware of the India’s own superhero whose superpower is his intelligence, computer se be tez dimaag chalta hai jiska. Created by Pran Kumar Sharma, Chacha Chudhary was modeled on Chanakya, the Indian philosopher and teacher who authored ‘Arthashastra’.
Turns out all though my aunts had very much read his comics, my cousins aged between 9- 14 were unaware of him except through the serial starring Raghubir Yadav as Chacha Chaudhary that was on air sometime ago. Let alone Chacha Chaudhary, they were obviously unaware of the bevy of other characters like Billu, Pinky, Chachi , Rocket and Sabu’s very own homegrown version of the celebrated villains like the Black Spiderman or Doctor Octopus ,Rakka. As huge in size as Sabu, he belongs to his alien planet and aims to kill Sabu and capture Earth.
Chacha Chaudhary differs from the latter day mainly European superheroes in showing the same tack and brilliance in handling everyday problems that plague his friends and the people at large. Growing up on steady diet of his comics, one issue particularly influenced me. A man is utterly confused as he keeps slipping in his new bought shoes. He complains to the shopkeeper who sold him his shoes who declares that his shoes are completely fine and there must be something wrong with the man’s feet. The man goes to consult the doctor but the doctor declares that the man’s feet are completely fine. Instead, there is some problem with the shoes. As a last resort, he has decided unwillingly to throw away his fine pair of new shoes when he sees Chacha coming his way. Chacha realizes that the man is wearing the wrong shoe in the wrong foot. He takes his shoes, interchanges them and hands them over to the man. And voila, the man’s problem is solved.
A constant theme that ran throughout the comics was Sabu’s strength versus Chacha ’s intelligence. In comparison with the superhuman strength available to most of the Marvel and DC heroes, these comics advocated a combination of both power and wit. Another theme was the alienation of the ‘evilness’ as opposed to the evildoer. The evildoers be it thieves or dacoits were shamed into realizing that they were doing wrong changing themselves into responsible citizens later. Change for better is a motto that children are constantly told but to see it in action is a different story altogether. Chacha’s universe provides them with the opportunity to see this in action.
No problem remains unsolved when it comes to Chacha. The familiar Chacha attached to his name transforms him into a reliable figure while keeping the Indian tradition of giving respect to elders alive. His name doubly marks his Indian lineage. The problems that he battles are typically Indian and he provides typically Indian solutions to them. He needs to be read in order to introduce the young adults to a facet of India which was a part of the collective memory of Indian public. Most of us still clamor to read him and an assortment of our Champak, Nandan and Twinkles.
Why shall Chacha Chaudhary be relegated to the nostalgic corners of our childhood?
This New Year, let’s rediscover him along with the younger members of our family. Let’s introduce them to delight of reading about the adventures of Chacha Chaudhary.