September 2010
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Titin comes to India, speaking Hindi

Karod kasmasate kaale kacchuve! Yes, that’s what our Tintin's short-tempered best friend Captain Archibald Haddock would say if you angered him.

Surprised? Don’t be. It is only the Hindi translation of his famous abuse, 'Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles'.

Translated into 50 languages across the globe, Tintin's latest stop on his world tour is the Indian shores. The Belgian reporter has undergone a desi makeover in his latest avatar, 80 years after the much loved comic character was born, and Indian readers will now be able to read his adventures in Hindi.

"The adventures of Tintin are the best comics in the whole world and I'm glad that having the books in Hindi makes them available to a wider range of readers," said Puneet Gupta, translator of the comics.

Ad filmmaker, writer, graphic designer and photographer, Gupta said translating Tintin into Hindi was one of his most enjoyable assignments. A fan of Tintin since childhood, Gupta needed no urging when publishers Om Books came calling to get the books translated.

There is no denying that the task was difficult, as Gupta pointed out: “It wasn't easy to translate the comics into Hindi as a whole. The culture is different, the references to context are different, and the locations aren't familiar. It was challenging to retain the authenticity of the comic while at the same time make it easily relatable to Indians.

"Take, for example, English characters speaking with Spanish accents, I had to think a lot and finally I chose a slightly regional version of Hindi interspersed with a few Spanish words such as Aye Caramba, which give the comic a bit of an international flavour."

Purists needn't worry, however. The locations, the artwork; the storylines have all been retained. Only a few tweaks here and there have been added.

For instance, Tintin's well-known catchphrase 'Great Snakes' has been altered to 'Baal ki haal'. His four-legged companion Snowy has been rechristened Natkhat and detectives Thomson and Thompson have been renamed Santu and Bantu.

There have been other characters as well who have undergone a bit of a change. Bianca Castafiore, the Milanese opera singer who is shrill and very loud and often sings 'Ah my beauty can't compare' has been likened to classical singer Mallika Pukhraj and her famous song in Hindi, 'Abhi toh main jawaan hoon.'

“I hope people take to the book positively," said Gupta. "Translating into another language is always difficult and I know that different people react differently to creative work. I just hope it's looked at with an open mind."

Gupta said the Hindi he had used for the books was simple, the kind used in the media. “All I want is for the book to appeal to its readers," he said. "It's not the purest of Hindi, but that wasn't my major concern. Tintin is not a showcase for the Hindi language. It is to give the readers the same uninterrupted view of Tintin that readers the world over have without being encumbered by language. The level of language used in both English and Hindi versions of the comic is the same.

"Reactions to the books so far have been positive, according to Gupta, and he said he was yet to encounter someone who was critical of the Hindi versions.

So which comic would he like to see in Hindi next, we asked him, and pat came the reply: Asterix and Obelix. "The humour used is very different and I'd like Hindi readers to have an opportunity to experience them," he said.

The titles that have been released so far

Samrat Ottokar Ka Raajdand (King Ottokar's Sceptre)
Neel Kamal
(The Blue Lotus)
Tuta Hua Kaan
(The Broken Ear)
Kala Dweep
(The Black Island)
Misr Samrat ke Cigar (Cigars of the Pharaoh)
Tintin Congo Main
(Tintin in Congo)
Tintin America Main (Tintin in America)
Sunhare Panjon Wala Kekada (The Crab with the Golden Claws)
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