As kids, most of us have enjoyed following the antics of Suppandi, Shikari Shambu and Kalia The Crow, and many continue to enjoy reading them as adults. These are characters who’ve been immortalised by monthly children’s magazine Tinkle, which remains one of the most popular publications for kids, for three decades. August saw the 600th edition of Tinkle grace stands across India. Editor Rajani Thindiath is proud to share that the magazine is still as popular as it was three decades ago.
Over the years, Tinkle may have undergone many changes but the popular characters and the essence of the monthly has been retained. “Mr Pai had very sound guidelines and since people respected him so much, the essence of it was retained,” recalls Thindiath, who has been editing the magazine for over a year. She has been with Tinkle for five years, and has noticed a steady increase in readership during this time.
Tinkle’s first issue was released in 1980 and along with Amar Chitra Katha, which was started by Anant Pai, it became one of the most popular books based on Indian themes for kids. Mr Pai, popularly known as Uncle Pai, became the face of Tinkle. “I read Tinkle as a kid and it has undergone a lot of changes since then. In the 80s, it was more about folk tales and simple stories. Now, children have access to technology and they know a lot more. So, certain changes have been brought about, including a few experimental stories,” she says.
So, apart from Tantri, Kalia and other stories, there’s plenty of non-fiction presented in an interactive way. “We have new characters, one being Superwierdos who is trying to find a superpower. We are also trying to make the informative part more interactive. The Tinkle Spotlight gives career guidance to kids. We have carried interviews with people like Bachendri Pal and Ruskin Bond on how they made their career choices,” adds the editor.
Though the target group is supposed to be 8 to 14 years, Tinkle is read by people of all ages: “We receive letters where kids and their grand mums have loved a story. We respond to every email and letter. It’s important to keep the connect alive. We take feedback seriously,” reiterates Thandiath.