Advertisement
Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Last Page

Translator’s Diary

Over time, I evolved my own philosophy of translation. It had to be a seamless flow between English and Kannada that preserved the savour and experience of the original while dispersing its seeds, writes Krishna Manavalli, a literary scholar, teacher, translator and trained musician

Translator’s Diary
Illustration by Saahil
Translator’s Diary
outlookindia.com
2021-02-05T13:28:59+05:30

It was sometime in the late ’90s. I was a disciple of Pt Rajeev Taranathji, the sarod maestro and literary/cultural thinker. On a quiet, sunny Bangalore afternoon, I finally met Kannada writer Chandrasekhar Kambar, the finest mythmaker of our times, at Taranathji’s house. The bond between the two greats is nothing short of legendary, going way back to the ’60s. Through the decades, Kambar published his works only after a nod of approval and some incisive comments from the maestro. So, the connection between myth and music is ingrained in my mind.

Mythic Heroes in the Flesh

As Kambar was about to leave, I asked him what he was writing. A thoughtful moment, and then: “An image keeps haunting my mind. Shivapada. Doctor, social reformer, thinker, musician, saint! Have I heard of someone like him? Perhaps Pandit Taranath, Rajeev’s father….” (For the uninitiated, a Tagore-like figure in early 20th c Karnataka.) “I keep weaving a thousand strands of narrative around this image. Maybe a novel is being born!” Shikharasoorya (2006) has Shivapada and Ninnadi—inspired by the Taranaths—as major characters. It’s a sequel to Chakori. That 1996 novel tells the story of the dreamer-musician Chandamutta, who’s reborn as Ninnadi in Shikharasoorya. My guru, Taranathji! Kambar explains, “Rajeev and his father are figures who stand for all that is magnificent and human. They are a part of our contemporary folklore.” Later that evening, I read Taranathji’s translation of Kambar’s ’70s play Jokumaraswamy, marvelling at the elan with which its folk rhythms flow into English. I felt my first urge to translate Kambar. Here was my model—muse, co-thinker, my guru! A stature beyond me, but discipleship surely beckoned. The task had to wait, though.

In the Illinois Snow
Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement

Photo Gallery

Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Omicron: 'We Should Be Very Concerned', Says Virologist T Jacob John

Omicron: 'We Should Be Very Concerned', Says Virologist T Jacob John

Dr Jacob John spoke to Outlook on why India should be concerned about the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 and things need to be done.

'Speed Up Vaccination In View Of Omicron': Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Advises India

'Speed Up Vaccination In View Of Omicron': Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Advises India

Eminent virologist Shahid Jameel speaks to Outlook about the new Covid variant Omicron and its implications.

IPL 2022 Retention: Teams To Reveal Retained Players

IPL 2022 Retention: Teams To Reveal Retained Players

Indian Premier League franchises will submit the list of players retained for the 2022 edition on Tuesday (November 30).

India Reaches Out To African Nations Affected By Omicron Variant Of Covid-19

India Reaches Out To African Nations Affected By Omicron Variant Of Covid-19

India has expressed solidarity with the African nations affected by Omicron and said it is ready to step in with aid.

Advertisement