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Chandamama - folk tales & stories based on Indian epics

Way back in June 1947, when the entire subcontinent was gearing up for the celebration of transfer of power i.e. India's independence from British rule, a small group of filmmakers in Andhra had already started discussing about the future of India, its transition from colony to a democracy, and how they can play a role in shaping the nation whose rich cultural heritage had been suppressed by invaders & imperialists for centuries.

 

It was during one such discussion that B Nagi Reddy and Chakrapani ,two of the most creative filmmakers of the Telugu industry, felt it was high time they propagate the rich history & heritage of India to children by narrating them folk tales & stories based on Indian epics. After lot of brainstorming, they realized that a monthly magazine would be the best medium to propagate such values among youngsters and would be effective if the stories are narrated in the form of series.

 
 

Since such stories were usually narrated by grandparents as bedtime stories with regular references to the moon (since kids are usually fascinated by the moon), the duo decided to name their magazine Chandamama. It was initially launched in Telugu & Tamil in June 1947 and the magazine instantly gained cult status among children & adults alike. Overwhelmed by the initial response, the duo started printing the magazine in multiple languages, taking it to every nook & corner of the nation.

 
 

With its wide range of mythological stories with creative illustrations & morals drawn from Indian epics, the magazine managed to not only make its young readers aware of India's heritage, but also instilled Dharmic values. The most popular part of the magazine was the regular Vikram-Betal series which had caught the imagination of millions of kids who would usually jump right into that page as soon as they laid their hands upon the latest copy.

 
 

Over the next few decades, Chandamama became synonymous with epic based & devotional stories, with publications in 12 languages, with a ciruculation of 2 lakh monthly copies during its peak in the 1980s. However, by the turn of the century, the magazine witnessed significant decline due to changing habits of new age youngsters who started preferring cartoons & serials on cable tv over reading stories, and the magazine was thus sold to a tech company in 2008.

 
 

Although the tech company had grand plans of reviving the magazine in digital format, they soon got into trouble due to internal scams which put an official end to Chandamama. However, the legacy of Chandamama is still kept alive by a group of fans from around the world, who have been scanning old copies of the magazine and uploading them in e-book formats, which can be searched on Google using the keywords: chandamama internet archive.

 
Story by
Guru Prasad

Guruprasad (or “GP” in short) is a Chief Engineer & Technology Mentor by profession and spends a...

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