I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Can you get more regressive than Champak?

In a post describing his three childhood peeves, Corporate Whore (known these days for lots of free time that he spends commenting on my blog!) describes Champak thus:
It was filled with moral ridden stories which never evolved with time, except for the inclusion of modern gadgets like cell phones and thingummies. The names of the characters aimed for an irritatingly complete cuteness, with characteristics of each animal struggling to get itself incorporated in its name. Check these out, Meeku Monkey,Whitey Rabbit and Sweety Cuckoo. Cuckoo is sweet, Rabbit is white and a Monkey is of course meek, silly. And of course the main course of any Champak was Cheeku. By Das.
Well put. Adventures of Cheeku are here:
My parents had made me subscribe to Champak in school to improve my Hindi. I don't know whether that objective was met (or even if it did, whether Champak made any difference). However, I do realise now that nothing about Champak stays in memory. I still remember the Rovers-er Roy from a Bengali magazine (forget the name) and Supandi and Shikari Shambhu from Tinkle, but Champak, it's all gone.
Then, suddenly, fifteen days back, at a dentist, I chanced upon Champak again. It was meant for the kids to help distract them from the minor pain of the operations. I happened to glance through some of the stories and found out why exactly I didn't like the stories and why none of them are memorable.

No, it wasn't the moralising, it wasn't the cuteness, it wasn't even the creative names. Instead, it was the fact that all of the stories were boring.

The stories were either a copy of Aesop's Fables (in which case, denizens of a forest will run around because the sky is falling on their head), or an inspired telling of the same story (in which case, nobody will believe Meeku Monkey who is running around because the sky is falling on his head) or a modern-day interpretation (in which case, 22nd century robots will be trying to scare baby Pinky, who will get together with her pet Robu, when the sky is falling on their heads).

Champak was like Anu Malik getting inspired by his own music, twice over in every issue. It was as insightful as hearing Sanjay Manjrekar comment on ODIs and not even tenth as interesting. It was as happening as my life on a Friday night.

Having said that, I probably didn't realise the import of stories like the one where Do, Re, Mi fight against Rock and Rap (do check it out).

Wikipedia does say that,"The magazine does not pass off adult folk tales as stories for children. ...The magazine has carried picture strories on Cheeku for years...". Hence, in case you are tired of adult R-rated folk tales in the magazines you get or you want picture stories of Cheeku, please go to the official site and buy a copy.

Incidentally, coming back to the answer to the question I posed - according to Corp Whore, you can.


Anonymous bongopondit said...

Rovers-er Roy from a Bengali magazine (forget the name)


RR rocked. I still remember Roy's curving shots into the goal.

Thursday, June 01, 2006 12:29:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All in all Champak was a decent magazine. It used to cost only Rs. 5 as against Rs.12 for a copy of the Tinkle and one could spend a lot more time reading it. The stories were obviously simple and repetitons of well known fables, but who says that cant make fun reading!

Friday, June 02, 2006 5:36:00 AM

Blogger corporate whore said...

bongo: Anandamela is right. Its still strong with its Heebie Jeebi club, or some thing like that.

Anon: Come to think or it, all of Delhi press' publications were ersatz. Grihashoba loses out to Meri saheli, Woman's Era to Femina and Champak content was marginally better than what you find on the back of a postage stamp.

And it is fun reading, but now, not then!

Friday, June 02, 2006 6:35:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Bongo, of course it is Anandomela. Don't know how Anandolok was running through my head!

Anon, next time I will give you Rs. 7 when you are faced with such choices.

Corp Whore, How do you know about Anandamela? Actually, that's okay, but how do you know enough to comment on Grihashoba, Meri Saheli, Woman's Era, Femina?? What have you been reading?

Friday, June 02, 2006 9:56:00 PM

Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

There was another one, Nandan. Terrible stories, and my biggest problem with it was that the titles of the stories had very little, if anything at all, to do with the stories themselves. Don't know why that bothered me so much (maybe early unrecognised journalistic talent) but that was the main reason I put my foot down and stopped reading it. Hindi or no Hindi.

Saturday, June 03, 2006 3:42:00 AM

Blogger corporate whore said...

Dont forget i work in a media agency. And i better know what people are reading. And trust me, i even know things like Woman's Era does not print names of models used inside their pages unlike the others.

Sunday, June 04, 2006 10:03:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

TMM, I actually hated Nandan even as a kid. Discerning customer, I was.

Corp Whore, I bow to thee.

Monday, June 05, 2006 6:37:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came to this blog searching for children magazine in Hindi titled "MELA".

This magazine started in Sep/ Oct 1979 with Deepawali as the theme of its first issue. And then I fell in love with it.

Though I could get no issues after 1984, I preserved whatever I had till 1996, when I had to leave my parents at Delhi and move to Mumbai for a job.I do not know what then happened to my treasure.

Still I am in search for "MELA" if anybody has even a single copy of it. I wonder if there is any linkage between "Anandamela" in Bengali and "Mela". It (Mela) was much above rest of the pack of its time. It had travelogues, stories, Tintin/ Shivaji comic strips, and what not that a child asked for.

Please write here on this blog or to me at kaushik_s69@yahoo.com if you have any info on this magazine.

Thursday, June 15, 2006 2:17:00 AM

Blogger Huginn & Muninn said...

ha ha... yeah champak was dumbass.. but that was the 80's wasn't it? we were all dumbass kids (look at a kids now- 6 year olds fooling with dad's cell and playing computer games...) and easily charmed and entertained by stuff like champak and 'suman and saurabh' (no, i never read it- but some of my more retarded friends did). chandamama was good, but...
came across this again while looking champak up on the net- to see if it's survived or turned into crap like the lovely target did when it 'grew up' into teens today...

Monday, July 21, 2008 6:57:00 AM

Anonymous Mallika said...

I actually only ever possessed/read one Champak - but I do remember the story, the characters consisted of Diwali firecrackers - obviously not a copy of any other story, and quite nice. There were a few illustrations, but it wasn't a comic book - am I confusing another magazine with Champak?

Thursday, July 16, 2009 1:45:00 AM


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