New Login   


Priyanka Bhattacharyya

A Project of By Gulzar. Translated by Rohini Chowdhury. Illustrations by Rajiv Eipe
Rupa Publications, New Delhi, 2013, pp. 116, Rs. 195.00


‘Aladdin’s lamp had not yet been lit/On the pages of imagination,/ Or they would have gone in search of it.’ (From Don’t bring Trouble Home)   I am not sure there are too many storytellers around who could embellish a stale panchatantantra tale with a gem like this, except, of course, the evergreen Gulzar, with his pen, both piquant and tender. I say ‘stale’ because, like the icon of the Taj Mahal, the Panchatantra stories have been done to death in our country with insipid and very often indifferent retellings. Most of us have survived garishly illustrated and terribly retold Panchatantra tales in various avatars in our childhood! Thus it was with a certain trepidation that I read through Bosky’s Panchatantra, originally written in Hindustani by Gulzar, and very crisply translated by Rohini Chowdhury, who has done her best to stick to the idiomatic twists of the original. Rajiv Eipe’s illustrations are a delight: my six year old has been fondly gazing at the lively illustrations ever since the book came home. (We’ve decided that our personal favourite is the roaring lion with a HALOOM halo from ‘Who shall Satisfy the Lion’s Hunger?!’)   The book is a delight from the preface itself, tenderly signed by ‘Gulzar Nanu’. Gulzar is a living legend in his lifetime, and the epithet imbues his colossal persona with a charming familiarity. He made the choice of casting the tales in free verse so that the young Bosky could choose to sing them as well. Rohini Chowdhury’s translation strives to match the letter and the spirit of the original. It is a daunting adventure to translate Gulzar’s lush Hindustani, and one must admire the translator’s courage. ‘A lie never goes very far/For it has no feet at all’ is a very imaginative rendition of the Hindi proverb ‘jhooth ke paon nahin hotey’ from Lies Cannot Run. Socio-cultural nuances are bound to be lost in translation: ‘His wife, would call him “Hey, sir!... Do you hear me?”’ It is indeed impossible to convey the wealth of meaning in ‘Aji, suntey ho?’ So if the reader does not battle with the translation, she will enjoy the rich narrative possibilities of this text immensely.   What Gulzar succeeds in doing is design a finely embroidered coat for what are essentially skeletal moral tales. He says in the Preface, ‘...I gave ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.