English: Indian writers trashes unease of adopting the aggressor’s language

Syed Shoaib writes about the grown popularity of English language amongst the writers and the vast unexplored regional literature waiting to get translated and read by the Generation ‘Y’ of India. Excerpts from his article titled ‘English should power our writers’ in Post Noon, Hyderabad’s first afternoon newspaper:

They were hesitant steps, yet left their mark in the poems of Sarojini Naidu and writings of authors like RK Narayan.

It was only after Salman Rushdi’s Mid­night’s Children in 1981, which won the Man Booker prize, that Indian writers saw the potential of writing in English.

Indian writing being a very young literature, writers were not able to find the right idiom to express themselves effectively. Hence, a large part of Indian experience is now unrecorded and the tendency to present India as an exotic land is prevalent in these writings.

It is only after the huge success of English books written by Indians of late that the authors realised the vast Indian market for their works. A major part of the audience is in India while the western audience is limited to critical acclaim. Writings of Shobha De and Chethan Bhagat are very popular among the Gen Y, much as the earlier generation was familiar with Mills & Boon, James Hadley Chase and Westerns. Today, the young set has a blank look at the mention of these authors.

With English becoming the global language for communication and the ‘computer language’ the unease of adopting the aggressor’s language has been trashed. What has doubly helped is that memories of colonial rule are becoming faint and distant. English has also become the lingua franca in the country, so there is more acceptance of this young tradition of literature, kindling optimism about its future.

Aside the original writing in English, there is also the big unexplored potential of translating works of Indian languages into English. The limited English writers in India, mainly urban India, have captured only a miniscule slice of the great experience that is India.

It is from creative works in regional languages that an in-depth view of the totality of India can be had. This could be a window to India for the rest of the world and we would do well to foster this activity. 

Read the full column: English should power our writers

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sculpture with a message “Flowers Bloom, Earth Smiles”

116th Ooty Flower Show festival, Ooty: Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sculpture with a message “Flowers Bloom, Earth Smiles” at 116th Ooty Flower Show festival.

Comics in changing India

Cris writes in Deccan Chronicle from Kochi:

There was a time when a nine-year-old’s day would start with Mandrake The Magician or Phantom, his friend.

Days when comics were everywhere — in magazines, on the last pages of newspapers and in the two-page supplements.

Growing up in those glorious 90’s and landing himself into a career in comics in later years, Anil Janardhanan watched with silent grief his superheroes fade into the pages of children’s magazines.

Today, running Vega Features in Kottayam — that distributes comic strips to publications — Anil misses the days when Kottayam even had a ‘Paingili Theruvu’, which thrived not only on the weeklies that carried romantic tales, but also because of the comics that sold alongside.

He is unable to pinpoint one reason for its steady decline, but reckons the low income the comic workers received for their hard work, as one of the reasons.

The same reason may have driven Venu Variath to the Middle East, where he now manages two publications of The Media Group.

“I used to work with the Poombaatta, Amarchitrakatha and Balabhoomi. First, there were mostly the translations of English comics.

With the likes of Poombatta, original characters and comics in Malayalam came into being. But eventually the sale of comics began to take a hit — plunging from lakhs to thousands.”

N.M. Mohan, who brought Poombatta to Kerala, however feels that there has not been a big change in the comics scenario.

“When other people would look at the front view mirror to drive forward, comic creators watched the rare view mirror — to learn from the past.

The animated series of various comic characters we have now is an extension of comics. Mayavi’s VCD, which came out last year, sold nearly two lakh copies.”

Sharing his belief is Kishore Mohan, who quit his regular job to come full time into the process of what calls ‘story telling’.

Kishore’s passion was kindled in those childhood days when his grandmother sat with him and narrated folk and fairy tales — Indian, Russian, Irish and Grimm’s.

The leprechaun’s treasure buried at the end of the rainbow and Baba Yaga’s giant flying mortar created images in his young mind which he recreated on paper.

“Thus I started drawing stories a long time before I started writing them. The love for words came much later; and with that, I found that ‘comics’ was the only medium where pictures and words could co-exist peacefully and symbiotically.”

And, successfully so. Kishore’s belief that if you are good at what you do and enjoy it thoroughly, passion will take you the rest of the way, proved true.

Incredible Indian – Nose-dive into colour

Born in 1978 in the town of Regivada, near Eluru, Andra Pradesh, Satyavolu Rambabu always had a keen interest in art. Unfortunately, due to lack of facilities and encouragement he could not nurture the natural talent that he possessed.

As a child, he used to turn the walls of his house into a canvas and often adorn them with temple drawings. In class VIII, he sat in his first real art class and learned the technical methods of art under the guidance of his guru — Nejuri Israel garu.

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He was greatly inspired by the drawings of ‘Baapu’ that used to appear in newspapers and wanted to develop his skills further. While exploring various forms of art and seeing new methods such as nail drawing and finger painting, he came up with the idea of nose painting 10 years ago. He specialises in making portraits with his nose and says, “It is very difficult to get a painting right when your vision gets blurred. And even a layman can see the tiniest of errors in a portrait. I like the challenge when I’m painting.”

So far, he has made more than 170 paintings with his nose and won the Global World Record in 2011 for this accomplishment. He also won the Rajiv Gandhi National Award in 2005 and the Chitrakalaratna award in 2006 for nose painting.

His work has been displayed across Indian in places like Delhi, Kerala, Gujarat, Lucknow, Kolkata, Kanuku, Vijayawada and Hyderabad.

“As a child, I never had help or support to pursue my interests. Hence, I would like to teach as many as possible and expand the scope of art. I would like to introduce people to this beautiful form of expression,” he says.

Today, he has his own art school called Sadguru School of Arts where he nurtures raw talent and provides help to anyone interested in art.

Musalman: @75p, the last “handwritten” newspaper in world !!!

The earliest forms of newspaper were handwritten and now ‘The Musalman‘ probably is the last handwritten newspaper in the world. This Urdu language newspaper was established in 1927 by Chenab Syed Asmadullah Sahi and has been published daily in the Chennai city of India ever since.

With the recent technological advances, where paper newspapers are going extinct because people read them online, this personable touch is rare to find. The price of this paper is 75 Paise

It is presently run by Syed Asmadullah’s grand son Syed Arifullah and six skilled calligraphers work on this four pages newspaper everyday. With a circulation of approximately 23,000 the paper covers news in Urdu language across a wide spectrum including politics, culture and sports.

The ‘Musalman‘ is probably the last handwritten newspaper in the world. It has been published and read every day in South India’s Chennai since 1927 in almost the same form. In the shadow of the Wallajah Mosque in Chennai, a team of six die hard workers still put out this hand-penned paper. Four of them are katibs — writers dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy. It’s tough for the die-hard artists of Urdu calligraphy. But the story we tell here is not just of their desperation and despair. The fact is, at the office of ‘The Musalman’, the oldest Urdu daily in India, no one has ever quit. They work till they pass on.

Check out this video directed by Ishani K. Dutta and produced and uploaded to YouTube by the Public Diplomacy Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs: http://youtu.be/LUmdx2YHGcA

Preparation of its every page takes about three hours. After the news is received in English from its part time reporters, it is translated into Urdu and Katibs – writers, dedicated to the ancient art of Urdu calligraphy, pen – down the whole story on paper. After that negative copy of the entire hand –written paper is prepared and pressed on printing plates.

Presently it is edited by Mr. Syed Arifullah. He took over the charge after his father died. His father ran this paper for 40 years. It was founded by his grandfather in 1927. This paper has maintained its original look and had not compromised with the Urdu computer font.

Urdu type setting was very difficult; also, typeset work looked ugly in comparison to handwritten work. Therefore, Urdu resorted to lithography while other languages adopted typeset.

With the advent of computer, Urdu writing got great boost. It allowed calligraphic writing without the problems of lithography. Yet, a book or newspaper written by a good katib and properly lithographed is very pleasing and beautiful; computer written Urdu is no match.