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Detective fiction writer SC Bedi whose Rajan-Iqbal series enthralled generations is no more

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: SC Bedi, the author who created the famous detective fiction characters Rajan-Iqbal, and had a cult following for decades, is no more.

Bedi, 74, breathed his last at his Alambagh residence in Lucknow on Friday. 

The Rajan Iqbal series of short novels that were termed 'Bal Pocket Books' and were mainly for teenaged readers, used to sell like hot cakes in the seventies and eighties.

The same charactes later made appearance in comics too but the pocket books had a huge readership. Bedi's novels were so popular that several publications came out with similar titles and used his name.

Hence, every SC Bedi original novel had an announcement about how to differentiate between the 'original Rajan Iqbal' and the fake. Bedi wrote nearly 1,000 novellas. The characters were household names. Rajan and all other characters had their uniqueness, like Iqbal's love for omlette that was well known.

The golden era of pocket books (along with comics in India) was in seventies and eighties when neighbourhood libaries would rent out books for a mere 10 paise or 25 paise for a day. Bedi had written his first novel in the mid-1960s. The Rajan-Iqbal series began in 1971 and became a huge success.

The publisher was surprised as he had never got such fan mail (apart from sales figures) from readers. In an interview with Zeba Hasan for inext, Bedi had told her that he wanted the readers (teenagers) to be brave and his aim from the beginning was to send a message of Hindu-Muslim harmony. 

By late 1980s, the readership was declining. However, the novels continued to sell even in early nineties, especially, in small towns in North India until he stopped writing. Bedi had opened a general merchants' shop in later years.

However, after a long gap, he again picked up the pen in recent years. A publisher had persuaded him to return to the world of spy fiction. The novels were again printed. There was renewed interest and online buzz in Facebook groups of comic-pocket book lovers, especially, the fans of Bedi.

Already his novels were selling and fans were making bids on different forums to buy the 'vintage novels', even paying Rs 500-1,000 for each novel. With Bedi's demise, an era has ended. He was the writer behind the success of 'Bal Pocket books' industry. Goodbye, Bedi Sahab.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.