paata chandamama kathalu

Savithri Machiraju (savithri@netcom.com)
Thu, 11 Sep 1997 02:15:33 -0700 (PDT)


Ramakrishna garu, the serial you are trying to remember is "tOka chukka" 
(the comet), which I believe was the first of "Chandamama's three-color
illustrated" serials.  But there isn't a single kidnapped princess in it! 
Just some shipwrecked soldiers trying not to get caught up in the fire
between two magicians. In fact, there's hardly a female character until
almost the end when we find out the treasure ship is guarded by a Naga
kanya, who is loved by chaturnetri, one of the maantrikulu.  Perhaps you
were thinking of its follow-up novel, "makara dEvata", a much weaker story
in my opinion, being more of a hash-mash of various plot lines, possibly 
lifted from other books.  In later years it has amused me to reread these 
early serials and identify the inspiring influence for the author.  In 
this one, there is a subplot that seems to come from Jules Verne's "The 
Mysterious Island".  In the serial "mugguru maantrikulu", quite a bit 
of the latter part of the story (when the hero gets sold into a slave 
ship), in particular, a terrific sea battle, seem to have resulted after 
the author saw the film "Ben Hur" :-)

BTW, the film "bhairava dweepam" is not at all based on "tOka chukka".

I'm probably dating myself hopelessly, but the serial that _I_ can not 
forget is "jwaala dweepam", which ended towards the end of 1960. It was 
almost finished, and things were just building up to the fiery climax, 
and the latest issue announced "mugimpu vacche sanchikalo!", when -- we 
moved to the U. S.!  Alas, alas!  By the time my parents got settled 
enough here and decided they could no longer put up with the clamorings 
from me and my brother that we *had* to know how "jwaala dweepam" comes 
out and renewed the subscription, it had ended!  I never did find out 
what happened (although I could probably make a good guess).

Others have spoken of reading about the world's classics ("bhuvana 
sundari" was The Iliad, and "roopadharuni yaatralu" was The Odyssey; they 
also translated many of Shakespeare's plays).  What impressed me most as 
an adult, was when I started making a concerted effort to read various 
Sanskrit classics (in English translation, which was what was available 
in our university library), I realized that I had read practically all of 
them in chadamama!  They published many plays by bhaasa and others, 
including "mruchcha katikam".  I don't remember them publishing any of 
Kalidasa's plays, however.

When I look at the current issues, it does seem to me that the magazine 
is more intended for adults than children, both in the themes and content 
of the stories (some times the illustrations also).  I have come to the 
regretful conclusion that it is not a particularly good resource for 
children growing up in the U. S. 

Sorry for the long post, but when you tap into such a vein of nostalgia 
as chandamama, I guess it's to be expected.

Savithri Machiraju