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Karadi Tales mulls animation series
Jai Arjun Singh in New Delhi
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January 29, 2005
It isn't the sort of statement you'd expect to hear from a businessman. "We need serious competition," says C P Vishwanath, director, The Karadi Tales Company.

"We are the only real players in the market right now and the industry in India needs to be revved up." The market Vishwanath is talking about is that for children's audio books, which his company has been producing for several years now.

Karadi was launched in 1996 by a team of novices who had little or no understanding of the publishing industry but who believed that the book-and-tape format would appeal to parents with children who hadn't yet learnt to read.

"The idea was to target very young children who could initially listen to the audio version of the story and then, as they grew old enough to read, could turn to the book itself," says Vishwananth.

"We were naive in the beginning, but we learnt with time." The company has come a long way from those uncertain days; today it distributes across India as well as in Australia, the Middle East and north America, and sells between 20,000 and 30,000 copies of each title on average.

It has also tied up with celebrities such as Naseeruddin Shah, Gulzar and Usha Uthup to narrate its tales.

Karadi is now making its presence felt in the educational field through the Karadi Path programme to improve functional English in over 100 schools in Goa.

A bilingual programme reaching 6,000 children in underprivileged schools in Tamil Nadu will start in the coming year.

The company spread its tentancles into a new market almost inadvertently a year ago, when President Abdul J  Kalam asked if they could make an audio book version of his autobiography 'Wings of Fire'.

"The venture - with narration by actor Girish Karnad - was a success and led to the launch of our Charkha series of audiobooks for the adult market," says Vishwanath.

The company is currently working on more such projects, including Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography (with narration by director Shekhar Kapur and actress Nandita Das) and Kalidas's stories (with Tom Alter).

Plans are also on to expand the company's presence into TV and possibly movies, though nothing has been finalised yet.

"We are in conversation with a couple of networks for an animated series," says Vishwanath. "After all, Hanuman has the potential to be every bit as exciting as a Superman!"

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