Freebirds Stories
Tinkle - defining fun & learning

With the proliferation of affordable smart devices & ubiquitous internet services, for today's 21st century young Indians, knowledge, fun & entertainment is usually just a click away. But back in the 1980s & 90s, when gadgets were not so smart & cable TVs were still a rarity, one of the very few sources of entertainment for kids were comic books which came in all shapes & sizes. Among them, there was one particular brand of comics published as a monthly magazine which had huge cult following among kids & elders alike. It was "Tinkle".

 

It was way back in 1980, when Anant Pai (fondly referred to as Uncle Pai), who had already become popular for the legendary Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) comics, felt the need to introduce a regular monthly magazine which would not only entertain kids with exciting new characters based on Indian context, but also inculcate moral values, develop scientific temper, appreciate nature/wildlife, sharpen analytical skills through puzzles, and more.

 
 

For this initiative, he picked some of the best brains from ACK to form a new team which would meet everyday to brainstorm over the content. Back then, one of the most common phrases for follow-up was "I will tinkle you later", which simply meant "I will call you later". During one such meeting, when an artist used that phrase, Uncle Pai immediately latched on to it and felt the word Tinkle itself could be used as the name of the magazine, as it sounded cute and a play on the word "Twinkle" which was usually one of the earliest words learnt by kids, due to the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" rhymes.

 
 

After a lot of brainstorming, Uncle Pai's team finally launched Tinkle magazine in Dec 1980, which became an overnight sensation not only among kids, but elders as well. While characters like Suppandi sent the readers rolling on the floor laughing, Tantri the Mantri kept them on the edge though his thrilling & cunning plans. While Kalia the crow cleverly outwitted Chamataka in all its adventures, Shikari Shambu always ended up becoming a hero due to final plot twists. Moreover, several other characters including the charming Ramu-Shamu duo would indirectly inculcate good habits among their young readers.

 
 

Most importantly, the magazine managed to squeeze in a significant amount of knowledge through their entertaining methodologies, thereby standing true to its slogan "Where learning meets fun". Tinkle magazine had thus become a constant companion among millions of young kids throughout the 80s & 90s, and were treated as "treasured assets" which were eventually "passed on" to their younger siblings.

 
 

Over the years, Tinkle has been constantly innovating to adapt itself to changing times, and it now has its presence on modern platforms like internet, smartphone apps & kindle formats as well, in order to cater to a much larger audience spread across the globe. However, the 90s generation would agree that nothing can beat their childhood experiences, when kids used to eagerly wait for the 1st of every month, so that they could lay their hands on the latest Tinkle, to enjoy the unique smell of the paper magazine, while diving into the parallel universe of comic characters which indeed brought fun & learning together.

 
Story by
Guru Prasad

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

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