For generations of Indian children, the Amar Chitra Katha comic books offered a simple and engaging way to learn about the country's rich cache of myths, fables and historical figures. But as television and movies began to replace reading, the publisher started to lose its young readers. The introduction of satellite television to India in the 1990s only accelerated the decline. But Amar Chitra Katha may enjoy a reversal of fortunes under its new owner, Samir Patil. The 38-year-old entrepreneur, who bought the publisher two years ago, has big plans to engage children of today, who have grown up playing console games, texting and surfing the Web. The chief executive and founder of ACK Media plans to roll out animated versions of the comics. A 26-episode television series is due early next year on Cartoon Network and there are two films in the works. 'Yes, kids are reading less, but there are other ways to reach out to them,' Patil says. 'Kids are open to everything, even Japanese stories. It's just the story-telling that needs to be good.' More than 30 per cent of India's population is 14 or younger, but most television shows that cater to children are imports that have been dubbed in regional languages. 'There is a need for stories with relevance to India and distinctive Indian characters,' says Patil. 'Amar Chitra Katha always worked because it told the story straight up, without any moral lessons.' Amar Chitra Katha (Immortal Illustrated Stories) is a recognised name across the country. It was founded in 1967 by newspaper executive Anant Pai, fondly called 'Uncle Pai', and has since sold about 100 million comic books in English and some 20 Indian languages. The brand has become associated with tales of folk heroes such as Supandi, a village simpleton, and Shikhari Shambu, a hunter who is something of an accidental hero. But the company doesn't have exclusive rights to its core catalogue of myths and folk tales, many of which have already been turned into films and television shows. Patil's plan is to develop less familiar stories of well-known characters. 'One episode will follow the Pandavas in exile, which is one of the lesser-known stories of the Mahabharata [epic]. There will be other episodes on Shivaji [a warrior king from Maharashtra], and the sons of Ram [a Hindu deity] and so on,' says Patil. The action-oriented stories from Amar Chitra Katha's library are being rewritten for television. A former McKinsey consultant, Patil started a technology outsourcing firm in India in the late 1990s that was later sold to Japan's NTT. He had been working abroad for 10 years and was looking to return to India when he heard that Amar Chitra Katha was up for sale. Seizing the opportunity, Patil quit his job at McKinsey to go home and founded ACK Media, a children's media company. His efforts to boost the ACK brand include renewed marketing and upgrading its retail and distribution network. The company recently released an online multiplayer game, The Legend of Katha, and is tapping a new revenue stream by selling comics, phone wallpaper and ring tones through cellphone service provider Vodafone. Last year, Patil ventured into another medium by acquiring Karadi Tales, which makes audio books for young children. And his strategy seems to be paying off. 'We've seen revenue growth of 40 per cent in the last fiscal year and about 80 per cent this year,' he says. Although Patil doesn't plan to overhaul Amar Chitra Katha's hallowed religious and mythological tales, the company has introduced new characters and stories through its monthly children's magazine, Tinkle. One is based on the adventures of a 12-year-old girl, Nina, on travels around the world with her cartographer father during the 1950s. In the next few years, Patil plans to strengthen the company's physical presence in shops and at events. But the focus will also be on animation, he says. 'We have to accept that reading will become a niche habit,' he says. Despite greater risk, he explains, 'From a business point of view, I want to create a company that delivers on all platforms. 'But more than that, I want to create distinctive Indian characters that reflect our fears and anxieties - something that Indian kids can look to and learn from.'