Thursday October 19, 2017

Regional language Comic books reviving Indian vernacular


Regional languages in India are going through a rough phase. Our country is focusing on the ‘global language’—English, and not working on enriching its own diverse indigenous linguistic spectrum. Local schools of different states don’t offer enough regional language courses and most teach in English medium. In a situation of this sort, youngsters are not able to understand the importance of their respective mother tongues.

In such times, ‘comics’, the favourite form of ‘literature’ for most children, has come ahead to the rescue of Indian languages. Children, as well teenagers, are mostly fascinated by comics and when these comics take a regional turn, there is nothing better for the local kids.

There are several famous comic book writers and cartoonists who work in regional languages. Narayan Debnath’s Baatul the Great– could ward off bullets, stop trains, run through concrete walls, hurl military tanks in the air and have a whale for breakfast. Baatul, essentially, was a Bengali child’s Superman. On the other hand, Mayukh Choudhury introduced Agantuk (a humanoid extraterrestrial creature, who grew deadly claws at will), who was similar to Wolverine from X-Men comics (and movies), but was created more than a decade earlier.

V.T Thomas, also known as Toms, a cartoonist from Kerala, created Boban and Molly, (12-year-old twins) who presented childish adventures and pranks as well as contemporary, social and political satires in the comic strips. It is also said that Toms influenced the way a Malayali read magazines –from back to front– as this comic strip would appear on the back pages of the Malayalam Manorama weekly.

These cartoonists present the impact which can be created by comics on social and educational consciousness levels of children as well as teenagers. This artistic way of creating awareness about the regional dialects is disappearing in recent times, which needs to be reinstated for saving our vernaculars from getting drained out.

There are several Indian comic book publishers focusing on Hindi or other regional languages. Publishers such as Diamond Comics, created the very popular Chacha Chaudhary (an old man who solved his problems with common sense, but with a touch of humour), while Radha Comics published Shaktiputra, featuring a character of the same name, who is very similar to RoboCop.

Recently, Tinkle Digest, in their November edition, introduced ‘Mapui’ the wing star hailing from Mizoram’s Aizawl. Also, with Comic-con India expanding its horizon to non-metropolitan cities, more of local and regional language books are finding their way into the mainstream comic business.

A quote by famous cartoonist, Dr Seuss explains the power of caricatures: “Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.” This is what we need to take advantage of to develop an awareness of our local dialects.

Comic books such as these are not only enhancing the niche of regional languages but also enriching the vernacular. Such efforts to use comics as a medium of expanding the flow of regional languages amongst children is a very gratifying idea.

“Reading regional language comic books is helping students excel in academics. These comics fascinate youngsters, compelling them to learn and read their local dialects,” said Priyamvada Rastogi, regional language editor of Tinkle Digest, while in a conversation with NewsGram.

Language has its own discourse and, in the same way, the hundreds of Indian dialects also have specific characteristics. Comics are one of the most interesting ways of expanding regional languages across the youth of this nation. We should explore this spectrum not merely for entertainment, but also for educational purposes.

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Gay Men Dating in Cartoons Banned in Kenya: Is India Standing on the same Pedestal?

Kenya Takes Up Step to Stop Exposure of Homosexuality in Children

The Loud House Cartoon
The Loud House Cartoon is banned in Kenya.
  • Kenya bans some cartoon shows airing on Nickelodeon as they were flagged to be disturbing content glorifying homosexual behavior
  • The Loud House (only one episode of two gay men dating each other), The Legend of Korra and Hey Arnold were some of the banned shows
  • Exekiel Mutua said, “Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children”

June 22, 2017:

After millenniums of being into existence, we still have our reservations from homosexuality. Even though its explanation in the ancient times, we still refrain from conversations with gay men dating others. A person’s sexuality is a matter of his own choice and the sole owner of this field is the person itself but the world can’t digest the fact of exposing people towards other people. What we need to remember is denying their existence means crippling your thoughts!

The exposure of homosexuality to children in our society through cartoons plays a very big role because it shapes the thinking of the child but on the other hand, the world is just ignoring the fact and hiding it so that it doesn’t create a single impact on the child. This brings out the need to have more discussions on exposing homosexuality to children and how it should shape the modern world.

One case that recently came into light was in Kenya where gay anime shows which aired on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were banned from the country because it was flagged as disturbing content and ‘glorifying homosexual behavior’ among children.

Some of the names of those programs were-

  • The Loud House –The show is about the life of a child living with 11 other family members and his house is a mess.
  • The Legend of Korra –It is a sci-fi show where all the cartoons are known to bend matter.
  • Hey Arnold – The show centers on a child name Arnold who falls in adventurous troubles with his friends.

The Chief executive officer of the regulatory board, Exekiel Mutua said that “Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children”.

In India, there is hardly any chance that the cartoons can be related to homosexuality as there is a possibility it may be considered not normal or even a crime. The most relatable example in the Indian concept is if we talk about the movie ‘Bombay Talkies’. The movie has four short movies and two of them is “Ajeeb Dastan Hain Ye”  and “Sheila ki Jawani” and in that movie.

ALSO READ: Amnesty Condemns Caning of Gay Men in Indonesia by Sharia or Islamic law in Indonesia

In “Sheila ki Jawani”, the protagonist aspires to become a dancer and dances to the tunes of the Bollywood song Sheila ki Jawani but his father wishes him to have a more manly aim such as to be a footballer. This small example can exactly tell you about the scenario in India. How profession is linked to the gender and not to one’s individual choices. In this country, people are more concerned about a boy child not to have ‘Girly’ Dreams then how can one expect the cartoons to be glorifying homosexuality.

The idea of not including homosexual content in cartoons is because it is believed that it might induce homosexual behavior in children. Though ironically, if cartoons start having these hints of homosexuality for children to view at a young age, they might react normally when they witness an actual homosexual relation. There is a possibility that we will not push or reject anyone to a corner for the choices they will make. Acceptance might rule. THINK!

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

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Cartoons for All! Here is how they teach us Crucial Life Lessons

“In the midst of the vagaries of life, they provide us a trip to the land of goodness and fairies, of imaginations and possibilities. A childhood that wasn't spent watching cartoons or reading comic strips, no wonder, seems too dull to imagine.”

Powerpuff Girls, Youtube

April 22, 2017: It is true to the core that sometimes we learn lessons of life in a hard manner and the transformation we go through is a very difficult phase. To accept change all of a sudden needs time. Here is where Cartoons come into the picture. Believe it or not!

People of different age groups have different preferences, be it outings, sports or the field of entertainment but there is something that transcends this generation gap and all the family members can be seen enjoying to their heart while watching these animated figures namely CARTOONS.

Cartoons have been entertaining us for decades. One can talk to one’s grandparents and see them laughing and being nostalgic about the cartoons of “their” time.

Over the passage of time, cartoons have changed but one thing that has not changed about cartoons is the life lessons they teach so easily. It is said that time teaches the crucial lessons of life but it cannot be denied that cartoons teach vital life lessons so easily while entertaining us and leave a long lasting impact on our mind.

Sanhita Baruah from Delhi says, “In the midst of the vagaries of life, they provide us with a trip to the land of goodness and fairies, of imaginations and possibilities. A childhood that wasn’t spent watching cartoons or reading comic strips, no wonder, seems too dull to imagine.”

While talking to kids, we came across these comments, Aaryanveer, a student of 6th standard says, ”Chhota Bheem has taught me to fight the problems that come my way and I learnt about having confidence in myself from Thomas and friends.”

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Ekanki, a student of class 5 says, “Cartoons help us increase our limits of imagination.”She also said that she has learnt qualities of cooperation and finding the truth from cartoons.

Here is a list of a few popular cartoons and the lessons they taught us:

Gohan, Source- Wikimedia

1. Hard work and perseverance will take you a long way

This is the life lesson we have learned from the action-avanturistic cartoon, ‘Dragonball Z.’ The little, smart and strong Gohan is definitely one of the most popular cartoon character names, that we will all remember as the most powerful saiyajin ever. Gohan will forever remain in our childhood memories as the cartoon superhero that never gives up and is constantly pushing himself. Regardless of the number of times he was beaten, defeated and destroyed – Gohan was always finding the indescribable inner strength that was making him even more determined and stronger than before.

Oswald, Source- Wikimedia

2. Helping friends in the hour of need

None of us can forget the polite and gentle octopus in Oswald. He taught us that w should always be there for our friends even if sometimes it means going out of the way.
Free spirited and energetic Daisy always inspired us to try new things and enjoy to the fullest.

Make Way for Noddy, Source- Wikipedia

3. There is nothing wrong in asking for help when needed

Enid Blyton’s hardworking taxi driver Noddy always finds himself in troubles dye to his impulsiveness but he has the guts to ask his friends for help. All of us remember Big Ears and the life lessons he taught Noddy and simultaneously to us. It also showed the ones who dig the pit for others, fall in it themselves and so was the fate of the Gobbo and Sly

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Scooby Doo, Source-Wikimedia

4. There is nothing like ghosts. Actual evil lies in human himself

If you have read this true life fact and Scooby Doo is the cartoon you have associated with it, then you have been definitely one of the biggest fans of this famous cartoon character. Going back in the beautiful ‘Scooby Doo era’, we will remember that in practically every episode of this amazing cartoon, the criminal (final culprit) was never the one we were thinking (a ghost specifically) it was during the whole time. Therefore, the life lesson #1 that Scooby Doo and his friends taught us is to not have fallacious opinions and predispositions about people. But, this cartoon taught us something else too. Life lesson #2 from the Scooby Doo cartoon is to be problem solvers. What does it mean? Scooby Doo and his Mystery Gang were always solving every mystery from every adventure they have been through.

Teenage Mutant Ninja, Source-Wikimedia

5. Trust your gut instincts

Is there anyone that hasn’t watched even an episode from the awesome ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’? Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo perfectly showed us that no matter the fear, no matter the uncertainty – always be guided by your inner voice, thus your gut instincts. This is how these four ninja turtles were managing to get out of troubles and successfully solve any of their mystery missions. So, whenever you are in the middle of a trouble and you feel that something is right or wrong – you need to trust your gut instincts.

There are many more cartoon series and the infinite number of life lessons they taught us so smoothly while making us fall in peals of laughter. Just open your T.V and enjoy this visual treat while nourishing your mind at the same time.

-prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram Twitter @NikitaTayal6

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Meet Cartoonist Shyam Shankar: Find out what inspires this self-taught Artist!

Shyam also conducts workshops for all ages in a bid to encourage the budding talent

Illustration by Shyam Shankar. Image source:
  • Shankar moved to Chennai and started working at the age of 15 with a children’s magazine
  • He prefers manual drawing over digital methods of sketching
  • Soon he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines in numerous languages

As a child, you might have undergone several failed attempts at sketching. But have you ever wondered who blows life into the characters you see in a children’s magazine or in a film storyboard? Well, it is the artistic genius of talented cartoonists and illustrators.

Speaking to one such cartoonist, Shyam Shankar, The New Indian Express brought to the surface nuances of this highly-skilled profession.

Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express
Cartoonist Shyam Shankar Image Source: The New Indian Express

Shankar, now 38, started off with sketching toons professionally when he was just 15. However, he recalls that even as a child he was quite passionate about drawings.

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He said, “By the time I was 12-year-old, the walls of my room were full of drawings and paintings stuck on them!”

He further said that his grandfather always encouraged his talent.

Shankar moved to Chennai after his class 10 and was immediately employed by a children’s magazine as a cartoonist. His talent soon got the wings it deserved as he started illustrating for more than 120 magazines, including ones in Telugu, Tamil and English.

Debunking a myth that a cartoonist’s job is mere to sketch, Shankar explained that it is not just drawing the character “but an entire situation must be visualised in one’s mind.”

He added, “You will be given the entire script but unless you observe the situations people live in, you cannot commit it to paper. For example, if you are told to draw the main characters —a fishing couple — you cannot draw it unless you have actually been to a fishing community and observed their life. What is expressed in one sentence in the script must be exactly portrayed in the illustration.”

Talking about the dearth of talent in the industry, Shankar pointed out that several budding artists fail to observe and hence are not able to develop their art.

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“My entire life has been like a single racehorse. There are very few peers in my field. I often tell the artists I meet to develop their talent and then I myself will introduce them to major magazines. What’s the use in having talent without competition,” he stated.

Shankar also frequently conducts workshops with Ramakrishnan (a known cartoonist), which are open to all ages and are aimed at nurturing the talent.

He also revealed that all his drawings and painting are manual as he doesn’t prefer digital methods that take away the authenticity and beauty of the artwork.

Shankar concluded by saying, “I don’t believe in visiting cards. My work is my visiting card!”