The Indian mythical characters buried in the rusty pages of thick bound classics were brought to life by the grand dad of Indian web comics, Amar Chitra Katha in 1967. Now, the group has come out with the Tamil translation of its titles to take the Chennai kids on a comic ride. The books, which aim at reviving Indian history, would have youngsters hurraying the Tamil doyens along with their batmans and supermans. “As a response to the demand from the market, for now, we have eight of the 500-odd titles translated in Tamil. All the translated titles pertain to the South,” says Reena Puri, editor, Amar Chitra Katha.
The titles include Tales of Durga, Karthikeya, Ayyappan, Kannagi, Subramanya Bharati, Tales of Mariyathai Raman, Rajaraja Cholan and Greedy mother-in-law. These, Reena says, are fresh translations. Prior to the launch of Tinkle in 1980, the titles were translated in nearly 36 languages, including Tamil. “Post Tinkle, we have started doing fresh translations now,” she adds. Sadly, many of the old translated works were damaged over the years and destroyed in the fire that struck the Amar Chitra Katha library in 1994.
“One fine day I got a call from Valliappan from Chennai, who expressed his interest in translating the title about Salim Ali,” says Reena. This call then paved the way for the titles which would soon be available in the market. However, championing the translation from English, the original medium for the comics, to other Indian languages has not been easy. “Many of the Suppandi stories had to be rejected while translating it to Hindi because the same jokes and puns couldn’t be created in the local language,” she says. How tough was it to translate the titles in Tamil though?
“I carefully selected words, which were simple and easily understandable since it was meant for children,” says Valliappan, who was himself a fond reader of Amar Chitra Katha and Tinkle’s Tamil version Poonthalir, which stopped midway, in his childhood. “Also, since the regional language fonts occupy more space, it was a challenge to convey the message accurately within the given space,” he adds.
With a keen interest in topics concerning environment and children, Valliappan has authored Manitharkku Tholanadi (Friends of Human beings), Naaraai Naaraai (articles on Bird sanctuaries of Tamilnadu for children).
He has also translated popular conservationist Theodore Baskaran’s Ecology articles and Teachers Guide on Climate Change & Energy for WWF, into Tamil. Given the expertise, Valliappan took just a week’s time for each title.
The Tamil comics would be made available in ‘Tamil packs’, which would include an interesting collection of 30 singles of classics, biographies and history.
“Like having Srinivasa Ramanujan, Amba and The unhappy tiger in a single pack,” says Reena. ACK also plans to convert all titles into digital format.
Hushing the demand of children to see Shikari Shambu and Kalia the crow as Chennaiites, Reena says, “We are also planning to release the Tamil version of Tinkle soon.” What’s more, the group recently launched a title on the Indian hockey ace Dhyan Chand, setting a trail for a number of other personalities to follow.