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Brain behind Chacha dies

New Delhi, Aug. 6 (PTI): Pran Kumar Sharma, the creator of cartoon character Chacha Chaudhary, passed away today. He was 75.

Popularly known as Pran, the comic book legend who enthralled kids for generations had been suffering from cancer. He died at a hospital in Gurgaon, according to his publisher Diamond Comics.

Pran sketched Chacha in 1969 for Hindi humour magazine Lotpot, imagining the character as an endearing red-turbaned avuncular man who possessed a wondrous mix of wit, humour, intelligence and quirkiness. Chacha’s trusted partner, Sabu, was introduced after 15 issues, said Diamond publisher Gulshan Rai.

“The readers of Lotpot were welcomed with three colourful pages presenting the exploits of their loveable Chacha and soon he (Chacha) became a household name,” said P.K. Bajaj, whose S.L. Prakashan owns Lotpot. The idea, Bajaj said, was to come up with a character that would be an “answer” to, say, an Aladdin or a Superman.

“People like Pran and Anant Pai (of Amar Chitra Katha) are a hard act to follow,” said Jatin Varma, founder of Comic Con India.

Born at Kasur near Lahore in Pakistan in 1938, Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for a Delhi paper with the comic strip Daabu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Pran “as a versatile cartoonist who brought smiles to the faces of people”.

Bollywood, which drew heavily on Chacha, joined in tribute. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar called Pran a “superstar”.

Actor Randeep Hooda thanked the cartoonist for giving so many “a remarkable childhood”.