The king is dead, long live the mantri

Updated: May 18, 2019, 07:41 IST | Shunashir Sen

Here's the why and how of development in the Tinkle universe, where Tantri the Mantri is now the king of Hujli

The king is dead, long live the mantri
Tantri

He's a scheming manipulator whose wicked brain is constantly hatching evil plans. But at the same time, he's also hard-working and perseverant. And now, Tantri — one of Tinkle's most enduring characters — is no longer a mantri. He's the king of the fictitious town of Hujli. For, in what's a major development in the Tinkle universe, the former prime minister's machinations against Raja Hooja have paid off after 35 long years, and he's finally managed to send the king to his grave and take over his throne, heralding a new chapter for fans of the comic book.

But what led the writing team behind the series to effect this seismic shift in the narration? We ask Rajani Thindiath, Tinkle's editor-in-chief, and she tells us, "There were two factors. One is that for 35-odd years, readers have been telling us that Tantri has been working so hard that the poor fellow deserves to be king. That is the feedback we have got from children. Secondly, we wanted to evolve the story arcs of the different characters — be it Shikari Shambhu or Suppandi — this year, and [making Tantri the king] was an easy decision given the feedback we had already received."

Rajani Thindiath
Rajani Thindiath

She adds that kids have their own way of looking at the world. They don't always apply the filter of good vs evil to situations. "It's really odd, in the sense that Tantri is the only villain in Tinkle. Yet, he's beloved. That's because children don't relate as much to his wickedness as they do to his hard work. And for me, this is actually a message of responsibility, because the question now is, will Tantri be able to manage Hujli's affairs? There are so many things involved in running the kingdom that he'll have to figure out a way of dealing with them. I have always viewed it in the manner that teachers deal with naughty children. The most talkative child is made the monitor in order to teach them discipline," Thindiath says, meaning that the new king will have to pull up his socks even as he settles into his throne.

That being said, what do fans think of this change? "[Killing Raja Hooja] is a really dark turn for a children's comic. No matter what happened in Tinkle, no one actually ever got hurt, be it Suppandi or Kaalia the crow," says 26-year-old Ketki Herlekar, adding that she's surprised because she didn't think that Tantri would ever succeed in becoming the king. So, it's a googly that's been thrown at her and, indeed, every other reader of the comic series, though if there is one moral that they can extract from the situation, it is that perseverance pays.

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