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How Chandamama plans to revive its glory

October 11, 2007 13:17 IST
The management of Chennai-based Chandamama - the children's magazine which has catered to three generations since Independence (1947) - is working on a four-pronged strategy to revive the 60-year-old storybook to its former glory.

Bought over by Mumbai-based IT company Geodesic Information Systems this March, Chandamama India first plans to fix its print edition by "recruiting the right people for the job"; going online by uploading all its content on the Internet; making the online edition a portal and "the one safe place for your child"; and finally striking alliance with the media, other story-tellers, animation houses and mobile firms to distribute its content.

60 years of Chandamama

Not only that, the management is also in the process of creating a "story cell" to write scripts for producers and directors which can then be rendered into full-length animation movies and TV serials.

"In fact, we are in discussion with three leading animation studios. Besides, we already have a radio play based on Vikram and Betaal. We have also done some work for Worldspace which will see the light of day by the end of this month," says L Subramanyan, CEO of Chandamama India.

The first edition of Chandamama was released in July 1947 with 6,000 copies. The founder editor of the magazine was B Nagi Reddy.

Chandamama is a monthly magazine focused on children and youngsters, and features stories from Medieval India - typically kings and their stories of bravery and wit. It had quite a few characters who appeared on short comic strips.

The magazine has become part of popular culture. It has been in family hands since foundation, and the current editor and publisher, B Viswanatha Reddy, continues the tradition after taking over the reins of the magazine from his father, B Nagi Reddy.

"If you look at the first edition that came out in July 1947, you will see that the purpose was to familiarise the post-Independence generation with Indian tradition, folklore, mythology and history by way of stories," recalls B Viswanatha Reddy.

He was just three years old when the first copy came out. Viswanatha Reddy was made the publisher of Chandamama in 1965 by his father. And, from 1975 onwards, he has also served as the editor.

The magazine stopped publication in 1998 "owing to labour disputes" but was relaunched a year later and continues to be published (around 160,000 copies) every month.

"It was a painful decision because Chandamama was passed on from the founding members, my father and the late Chakrapani, to me. But I was confident that I would be able to relaunch it in the next two-three months," says Reddy, adding that it was the goodwill of the agents and the subscribers that saw him through.

Most subscribers did not ask for a refund. In 1999, the company was floated as a public limited organisation, with Morgan Stanley taking a sizeable stake in the company.

"Even if we were to stop circulation today, and collect no more additional content, we would be left with a story bank that would last for almost 15 years," says Subramanyan.

He adds: "You will hear a lot from us over the next 90 days."

BS Reporter in Mumbai
Source: source