Changing forms of storytelling – Amar Chitra Katha moves to digital frontiers

An Amar Chitra Katha Comic

The ever favorite children’s comic brand Amar Chitra Katha is going digital, a trend the iconic brand can not afford stay away from. The comic book series which sells more than 90 million copies every year in 20 different languages is reviving its past glory by selling content on the web, television, tablets and through various other channels like audio books and games.

At present some of the comics from the hugely popular brand are available for download only on the iPhone for $1.99. The company has plans to launch a device agnostic Amar Chitra Katha app on operator networks soon. Mobile service provider Vodafone sells Amar Chitra Katha comics, wallpapers and ringtones already. According to a recent report, the company has also launched a multiplayer game. ACK Media, has acquired Karadi Tales, a company that makes audio books.

And that’s not all. The company is about to release its first 3D animation film; Sons of Ram – Heroes will rise, in collaboration with Cartoon Network across the country by the end of November this year. It has plans to bring famous characters such as Supandi and Shikari alive on television.

In an Economic Times report, Vijay Sampath, CEO of ACK Media, says , “ACK felt that the brand should move from legacy format to Gen-X mediums as our sales for our comics are better than ever before. So, it’s just the perception that an old brand isn’t relevant for newer generation.”  Retail baron Kishor Biyani’s investment arm acquired a controlling stake in ACK Media in April 2012.

The brand is known to bring to life Indian mythological and historical stories and have served as a preferred medium of introducing children to the richness of South Asian culture. Much of our generation since its launch in 1967, have grown up spending endless hours reading the tales of brave kings, queens, demi Gods and religious characters at the same time imbibing values of morality, wisdom, kindness etc. Anant (Uncle) Pai, a newspaper executive who built the whole empire passed away last year.

Its move to the digital world, was inevitable as the country’s Internet population grew. Total digital-content consumption will double, to as much as $9.5 billion by 2015.

With higher proliferation of smart devices, consumption and usage of digital media content is changing rapidly, impacting the way content is being created and distributed.

ACK is just one example of the vast change that has swept the world of comics. There’s TinTin and his famous adventures that has moved from print to various digital formats. And taking TV storytelling to other formats is Chota Bheem, the highly popular TV cartoon series that has now spearheaded into gaming and have launched online, mobile and interactive TV games that can be played for free or by paying a nominal amount per download or subscription. A few months back it was also released as a full length movie Chota Bheem And The Curse Of Damyaan” and was a success at the box office grossing over Rs 2 crore net.

And it’s a similar story for Johnny Test, Tom & Jerry, DreamWorks’ Dragons adventures, Ben10, Doraemon, Shinchan etc.

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