There aren’t too many people who are familiar with flip books.
But for B V Panduranga Rao, a cartoonist in the City, flip books spark a passion that he has not been able to get over for over a half century!
Flip books are essentially books with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, they appear to animate by simulating motion.
“When I was around seven, I saw letters jumping in the corner of my text books. I started putting a dot there and moving it. In those days, there was nothing like animation. But I still found it very fascinating to move dots, which eventually, became arrows and finally, stick figures,” recalls Panduranga, adding, “It was great fun and I used to spoil a lot of books and get scolded for it. I remember someone gave me a chocolate and in return, I gave him a flip book.”
Since he was a boy, he knew he was good at drawing. But he never had the opportunity to become an artist. So, he resorted to cartoons and flip books, which allowed him to pen down the stories of what he saw around him.
“When I went to work at Bhilai Steel Plant, I became serious about it because I was making books on safety measures. But I wanted to explore different subjects and realised that in these books, you need good movements. So, I’d select a subject like sports because it offered a lot of variety. Cricket, for example, was something I played for over 15 years at the plant. I’d make different actions — catching, stumping, run out, everything — and show it to my cricket friends, including Ajit Wadekar,” he says.
While his cricket flip books are his personal favourite, he has also made some on other sports like badminton and basketball.
His collection includes a smile being formed, a drowning man being rescued, someone diving into a swimming pool, a rocket launching and most recently, the twin towers coming down.
He has also made some books on the environment, showing pollution with blue sky turning black or deforestation, by showing the cutting of a tree.
Speaking about the medium used, he explains, “Everything is done completely by hand, including cutting. I use a dot pen because otherwise, the impression doesn’t come on to the next page and I have to trace it from page to page, which takes a long time. For colouring, I use colour pencils because water colours spoil the paper.”
There are books of different sizes, varying from 1 cm by 1.3 cm to 20.75 inches by 30
inches. The time to complete a flip book, he informs, can be anything between three hours to an entire month.
“When you start a new one, you’ve to plan the story and how many pages you will spread the actions over. I make a new one every three-four days. In all, I must have made at least 200-250 books so far, but I used to keep gifting it to people. The idea of keeping some with me only hit me recently,” shares the 70-year-old.
Panduranga’s smallest and biggest flip books have even earned themselves a few records, namely the ‘Limca Book of Records’, ‘Unique World Records’ and even the ‘India Book of Records’.
He even has a few records for the smallest desk calendar.
Among other achievements, a caricature of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam that he made is put up in the ex-president’s house in Rameshwaram.
Are there others like him who have pursued this hobby? “No,” he replies, elaborating, “In our country, it’s not very popular. There are a few flip books using printed photographs like of Tendulkar batting or babies walking. But the handmade ones are very less because it takes a lot of time, skill and patience. I hope more people start to make them because it’s a wonderful art — it develops creativity, imagination and
What’s the next flip book he plans to make? “I want to make a 300-400 page story purely on the environment, which will focus on the awareness part of issues,” he sums up.