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Tinkle tales, up in the air

Tinkle’s iconic Kalia the Crow series is now Big Baan

  • Published 4.03.19, 11:04 PM
  • Updated 4.03.19, 11:04 PM
  • 3 mins read
Rajani Thindiath, editor of Tinkle A Telegraph picture

Talk about growing up in ’90s India and it’s hard not to talk about Tinkle. The comic book that gave us iconic characters like Shikari Shambu and Suppandi, has rebooted one of its beloved family members — the 38-year-old Kalia the Crow series. It has been relaunched as Big Baan, which has a larger forest with more animals, more adventures. Developed by writer Luis Fernandes and illustrator Pradeep Sathe, Kalia the Crow was the first character to feature in Tinkle and appeared in the first issue in December 1980.

Why the reboot?

“Kalia the Crow is a beloved character since it has been around for 38 years. It has been the first lead character to appear in the very first issue of Tinkle. The story for so long has only revolved around Kalia the Crow, Chamataka the wily jackal and Doob Doob the foolish crocodile. Chamataka and Doob Doob are very popular, therefore we considered giving them their adventures. We wanted to expand and explore the exciting world of Kalia’s forest and the fun adventures its denizens have,” Rajani Thindiath, the editor of Tinkle, tells The Telegraph.

Ask her the reason behind changing the name of the series altogether and Rajani says, “Big Baan is the name of the forest where Kalia lives and the name was given by Kalia’s creator Luis Fernandes some time ago. We thought there was no better name to represent the forest.”

Older readers, including me, prefer our childhood stories to remain unchanged. However, Tinkle is written for the young and the young-at-heart, so we need to keep it current

Rajani on the transformation of Kalia the Crow

What has changed?

The issue that hit the market on February 16 talks about a situation when animals of different forests have to share one watering hole. The comic has characters like Doob Doob: The foolish crocodile, Chamataka: The wily jackal, Pu’Rani: A giant turtle who fancies herself the ruler of the great forest. She is carried by four monitor lizards — Uttu, Dakku, Puru and Pushu — named after the four directions, since they have no sense of direction. Pu’Rani also has two bison bodyguards — Thod and Phod.

Apart from new cast of characters, the comic will have new forests and terrains and there will be animals from across the country. There’s also a new look for the forest and its denizens and wilder adventures.

“The first story is about a fight over a watering hole and it features characters like Pu’Rani, Uttu, Dakku, Puru, Pushu, Thod and Phod. The change is actually in the expansion of the viewpoint. Now we see the jungle from different points of view and not just that of Kalia. In accordance with that, the look of the forest and those of the newer creatures has been given particular attention,” says Rajani.

The current adventures are being written by many staff writers, like Ritu Mahimkar, Aparna Sundaresan and Sean D’mello. The illustrator is Archana Amberkar, colourist is Sachin Adhare and letterer is Prasad Sawant. 

A panel from Tinkle’s Big Baan story, The Big Drift
A panel from Tinkle’s Big Baan story, The Big Drift Source: Tinkle
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The response?

We asked Rajani if she’s scared of loyal Tinkle readers not accepting the change. “Older readers, including me, prefer our childhood stories to remain unchanged. Classics always bring on a tinge of nostalgia. However, Tinkle is written for the young and the young-at-heart, so we need to keep it current. We want our readers to enjoy not only Kalia, Chamataka and Doob Doob but also the other creatures that make Big Baan an adventurous place. Plus, for us this world is a great way of introducing the unknown creatures of the Indian jungle and their quirks to curious young minds.”

Since the issue came out on February 16, the reaction from some older readers has been that of dismay says Rajani. She says, “But it was only until we reassured them that Kalia, Chamataka and Doob Doob will be very much around. The latter would just have a wider cast of characters to have adventures with.”

Talking about the plan ahead, Rajani adds, “Future adventures in Big Baan will showcase forest rivalries, formation of gangs, petty squabbles as well as the quirks in each of the forest denizens.”