Viswanatha Reddi remembers that it was a tough task for him to step into his father's shoes as the publisher of Chandamama in 1965. Whenever he felt there should be a change in the content of the magazine in tune with the generational changes, he used to have discussions with his father and with Chakrapani.
"They had a framework in their mind, and my father never let us go outside it. He was very strict about that. According to him, it should be profusely and pleasantly illustrated... that is, every page in Chandamama had to have an illustration. Content-wise, he wanted us to adhere to the old folktales and traditions with a stress on the villages. They believed in what Mahatma Gandhi said: 'India lives in its villages.' The motto of the founders was that Chandamama should depict the Indian way of life," says Reddi.
What was the biggest challenge Viswanathan Reddi faced as a publisher and the editor of a 60-year old magazine?
"I have to face this question periodically because tastes of children change from time to time. When things do not look good, agents and marketing people ask me to make Chandamama modern, but I am obliged to follow the vision of my father and Mr. Chakrapani."
How did he withstand the pressure from the agents and marketing people? "When I don't have a conflict within me, I have no problem withstanding the pressure," he replied.
Though Reddi has made the English edition quite modern to suit the English-reading young urban children, the language editions strictly stick to the old format. "In 2002, we de-linked the English Chandamama from the other editions."
Junior Chandamama was started in English in 2003 to answer certain queries from children below the age of nine. The first issue was received by President A P JAbdul Kalam.
Photograph: Viswanatha Reddi, publisher & editor, Chandamama
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