For more than four decades, illustrator Pran Sharma chronicled with humor the challenges of Indian life in a beloved comic book series about a wise old man named Chacha Chaudhary. Mr. Sharma died Tuesday night of complications from cancer, according to his daughter-in-law, Jyoti Pran. He was 75 years old.
Mr. Sharma’s most famous creation, Chacha Chaudhary, sported a bushy white moustache and red turban and carried a walking stick. Working with a brawny friend, Sabu, Chacha Chaudhary outwitted criminals and tricksters thanks to a mind that “works faster than a computer.” Chacha is a Hindi term of endearment for a paternal uncle or a respected person in a village.
Chacha Chaudhary first appeared in 1971 in a Hindi children’s magazine. He later starred in a series of comic books read by millions and translated into 10 languages. In 2002, the character was adapted for a children’s television show.
Mr. Sharma was one of contemporary India’s leading cartoonists. Among his other well-known characters was Billoo, a lanky teenage boy he created in 1973. Billoo played cricket in the narrow lanes of his congested neighborhood and got into and out of trouble with the local aunties and goons.
Humor was the basis of all Mr. Sharma’s stories. “If I could put a smile on the face of the poor, I would consider my life successful,” Mr. Sharma said on his website.
Mr. Sharma was born on Aug. 15, 1938, in a small northern town called Kasur, now in Pakistan. His family moved to the central Indian city of Gwalior after partition in 1947, according to local news reports. After receiving college degrees in political science and fine arts, Mr. Sharma started his career as a professional cartoonist at the Hindi-language newspaper Milap. In 2001, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indian Institute of Cartoonists.