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Chandamama: The End of an Era

I was a regular reader of Chandamama since ages. I used to eagerly wait for my hawker to drop off a copy at my doorstep every month, so that I could immerse myself into its pages filled with stories of lost times, stories that gave off a flavor of ancient India and the lifestyles of people of old times.

The writing style of those stories was something really different than the usual simplistic style of other magazines like Nanhein Samrat, Suman Saurabh, Balhans and Nandan. It made sure that the reader was hooked till the very end and left the book on his shelf only after finishing it completely.

Chandamama was published first way back in July 1947, by B. Nagi Reddy, who later went on to become a major film producer in India, and his close friend, Chakrapani, who had a clear understanding of the target audience for their magazine. For more than 6 decades, it kept churning out fables from the rich catalogue of Indian mythology as well as regional folktales starring simple, easily-relatable characters, mostly village folk.

 

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The covers used to be the main highlight of the magazine and for its entire lifespan, it never relegated to any other theme other than its usual mythological one. For example, several covers of Chandamama featured scenes from the legendary tale of Ramayana. These covers used to quickly catch the attention of elders who didn’t need to think twice before buying the magazine for their kids or grandkids. Chandamama was published in around 10 different languages including English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Sanskrit. The readership reached millions during the peak of the magazine, which was unheard of for any Indian monthly at the time. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood include reading a freshly arrived copy of Chandamama, lying on my sofa, which was the best way to spend a hot summer afternoon in my opinion.

 

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In 2007, Chandamama was bought by a Mumbai based software provider company called Geodesic. It was evident that Geodesic was planning to present the legendary magazine in digital form to its readers. But, the publication of the magazine suddenly came to a halt as Geodesic was taken to high court as a result of outstanding loans. The company is on the verge of liquidation and there’s no hope whatsoever for Chandamama.

It’s clear that this is the end for one of the most revered magazines in Indian history but I’ll do my bit to preserve its rich and valuable contents by passing on my stack of magazines to the next generation as well as some libraries.

R.I.P. Chandamama.

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