Ma Prints - a printer with a world record

Ma Prints enters the Guinness Book of World Record with its screen printing prowess.

15 Oct 2015 | By Shripad Bhat

In a riveting story that criss crosses the length and breadth of the sub-continent, Guru Prasad, the managing partner at Bengaluru-based Ma Prints, recounts how a small screen printing business (with manual tables) started out, 20 years ago, and has now transformed itself into a  multi-faceted print company.
Today, Ma Prints has two units, a 1200 sq/ft office cum digital printing set up, and another 7000 sq/ft multi store complex which houses offset printing, advanced screen printing, lamination, cutting, punching, foiling, and other post press facilities. Ma Prints caters to religious/spiritual institutions, big corporate jobs, plus five-star hotels, banks, individuals, etc.
Guru Prasad says:
Strange but our family was forced to migrate from Rawalpindi to Kashmir, then moved to different places across the country in search of a ‘base’ – Delhi, Bengaluru, Mysore, and Tumkur. There was even a time when I have sold apples at the Azadpur Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) with my uncle to make a living.
My father’s knowledge of screen print, and passing over the same to us, gave us a means of livelihood. It kept us going during our Agyhatavas (living in exile, a word mentioned in the Ramayana wherein the Hindu God, Lord Ram is believed to have lived in exile in forest for 14 years) in 1993. It was the only source for sustenance for us. We re-started screen printing (1993-94) in Ludhiana., Back then, we would provide tuitions till the late noon; and then post-dinner we would print jobs that we had accepted through the day. These were business cards and garment tags.
“Kaka jalebi aayi hai
Against each supply and receipt of that particular payment, my father would ensure to buy us a (pav) quarter kilo of jalebi (probably it was the cheapest or the most affordable sweet) for our efforts. We would wait for his return when he went to deliver / receive payments. On arrival, he would look up to as at the balcony and say: “Kaka jalebi aayi hai”, it meant that the payment was received and our job accomplished.
The jobs were small, the profit was good and it kept us going. We even got a few repetitive orders. But soon there was a tide again and within nine months, we were in Tumkur working at a press. The facility was much ahead of its time but in a small village town. The learning was good for me, more so, to understand the psychology of labour and their  approach to work in the absence of the boss and managers, as I was one amongst them.
Ma Prints was born
It made me realise their expectations, limitations, behaviour and attitudes. The idea to work for ourselves was subconsciously being conceived. And in nine months, we were at Bengaluru with the little money saved from the salary of my father, we searched for a small facility to work for ourselves.
Thus in 1997, Ma Prints was born. We had two orders of 10,000 round stickers, one of Darla Sales & Agencies and the other of The Viceroy. Since then, we have been fortunate to never look back. Both the jobs were with a combination of screen print, foil stamp and adhesive application (gumming) with release paper. This time too, screen was the only support and 
Time flew and as we picked up pace in our printing business, worked with a number of clients, some old friends and customers of Talwarji, and with their good wishes and business, we invested in offset and digital setups besides investing in a manual screen printing process.
During my visit to an exhibition in Delhi, is when we purchased our second digital machine, the ProC 901 for ourselves, and that is when I happened to stroll around and met Hanish Mehta of Grafica. I recollected those 18 years, I called up my mother, and my sister and asked them: “Kaka!, Jalebi Khayega”? They knew that it was to do with screen printing and said yes, it would be a reminder and a tribute to the art and remembrance to us of our humble beginnings.
A fitting tribute to screen printing, the mother of many printers:
So, as a fitting tribute to screen printing, the mother of many printers like us, we decided to embrace advanced screen printing by investing in viz, Grafica’s Nano-Print plus, Nano-UV and Nano-Screen Maker 5-in-1. With this investment, we completed a full circle in our printing business – manual screen printing – offset/digital – and back to screen printing. To mark this juncture of our printing lives, the sweet distributed to the staff on the occasion of the new installation was of course with Jalebi.
Screen printing kept us on our toes
So, screen printing kept us on our toes, until we made inroads into print business. Screen printing could be considered as Mother of printing’. Because most of the printers involved in offset/commercial printing have had a history of starting their printing business with manual screen printing. This is because it involved a very little investment – in terms of money, space, manpower. On the contrary of multi-colour offset printing requires big investment. So, screen printing is a foundation stone of our success in business.
Today, we use screen printing techniques to undertake value addition on specialised jobs which include corporate houses, pharma and agarbatti and perfumery packaging, wedding cards, etc. We strategically apply spot UV and various other UV special effects to enhance the overall value of a product. I believe value addition is where the profit is.
Guinness Book of World Record
We also undertake palm leaf (tada-patra) print and engraving. One of our memorable projects was printing the Niti Mala a 130 palm leaf set. We also did the Hanuman Chalisa using birch-bark (bhurja-patra) which involved a combination of digital, laser and screen printing. The Holy Book was to commemorate a unique religious event wherein 1,28,918 participants chanted the sacred Hindu verse Hanuman Chalisa twenty-seven times. This was a Guinness Book of World Record fete on 31 January 2015, since by the end of the day 2,20,000 people had attended the event for global peace.
A Vedic connection
While offset is used for book publication and commercial/packaging printing, our digital press is mainly deployed for printing Vedic literature/religious books of Swami – SGS Veda Nidhi and Academy & Masters’ Institute, a research unit of Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Ashram in Mysore (a Vedic School where Guru did his Vedic education). Our digital books are also sold in Germany and Switzerland. Ma Prints also renders book printing services for many overseas book publishers.
The Grafica-DMI combination is doing a great job to bring freshness to screen printing industry by imparting knowledge as well as offering easy-to-screen printing machines.
On the other hand, my father (Kailash Talwar) would give and still gives training in screen printing to knowledge seekers. Interestingly, some doctors in Mysore have also learnt screen printing as a hobby. He conducted training to a batch of 10-15 unemployed youth at Mysore Ashram.
We have trained more than four batches of students from Bosco and I am told that few of them have started their own print setup. One of our staff does part time screen print with the aid of his family and we outsource few of our surplus jobs with him. It is a sight of joy and sense of immense satisfaction to realize we can touch and transform lives by just sharing our knowledge of printing.
How it all began, and who laid the foundation?
My grandfather, late Prem Nath Talwar, a migrant from undivided part of India - Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan), started a printing business in Delhi under the name Prem Art Press. The company was involved in security printing such as cheque books, fixed deposit receipts, drafts, stationery for banks and stationery for five-star hotels such as the Oberoi Group.
Later, it was a tryst of destiny and time, Ma Print was established in 1997 by - Kailash Talwar, Guruprasad (I am third-generation print entrepreneur) and Sukesh S (my childhood friend from Mysore).
Today, we are more into an industry of printing with passion, rather than deeply looking into the profit and loss account. We cater to various customers with their diverse needs using different printing technologies, screen, digital, offset, laser, etc. 
We work right from conceptualising, designing to printing and finishing. These include packaging, gift items, customised wedding cards, books with value added covers, branding products such as place mats and tea-coasters, etc. We specialise in printing Vedic books.
CSR – Paying back to the society!
Very soon, we would start sponsoring or providing scholarship, to needy and interested students who would want to learn the art of screen print and take it up as a means of livelihood or profession. Surely, the least we can do is assist in creating self-reliant individuals for the world around us, like how a Ma- ‘mother’ does, by sharing the most gifted thing they have: knowledge.