Monday, January 4, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a bear...


Ever wondered how Karadi became Karadi? Well, here's Karadi's story...

In 1998, a young group of educationalists and musicians decided to recreate the joy of Indian stories for children through the medium of 'talking books' (or audiobooks). The creators saw the need for audiobooks not as a niche market, but as a product of mass appeal. Thus, Karadi Tales was born.

But who is Karadi? And why Karadi? Karadi is a wise old bear from India. ‘When we started to think of audiobooks, we realised that we needed a narrator,’ says Shobha Viswanath, publishing director. ‘We needed a reliable, trustworthy character to tell stories to children. And as I read through the Panchatantra, the Jataka and other folklore, I realised that the bear was missing. There seemed to be no stories about bears! I found this very strange, since the bear is such an Indian animal. We decided to let a bear be the storyteller of Karadi Tales.’

And why is he called Karadi? Well, Karadi means bear in Tamil. The creators felt that there was a definite need to move away from ‘Bhalu the bear’ and have a Southern touch to storytelling. And thus, Karadi was christened.

The first title of Karadi Tales was launched in December 1998, featuring the well-known thespian Naseeruddin Shah as Karadi the bear. Soon, the internationally acclaimed actor Saeed Jaffrey and the world-renowned playwright Girish Karnad lent their voices to Karadi as well. In Hindi, Karadi was played by poet and film-maker Gulzar and renowned actor Tom Alter. In Tamil, the actor Nasser lent his voice to Karadi. And when Karadi began to sing the Karadi Rhymes, Usha Uthup lent her voice as well. Other Karadi narrators include Nandita Das, Vidya Balan, Sanjay Dutt, Boman Irani, Konkona Sen Sharma, Rahul Dravid, Shekhar Kapur, Shernaz Patel, Dhritiman Chaterji, Gareth Armstrong, Shobhana, Vairamuthu, Soha Ali Jhan, Jaaved Jaaferi and several others.

So who is Karadi? He’s a born storyteller who’d love to enter your home and tell your child stories.