Love in another language | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 12, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 12, 2012

Love in another language

Tagore in Urdu


Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) with poetess Indira Varma and Urdu poet Rahman Musavvir.

In the last phase of his long and illustrious life, Rabindranath Tagore had endearingly beseeched to posterity: “Tobu Mone Rekho” (remember me). The poem proved prophetic.
In the middle of February, 2012 a book containing a selection of 101 of his poems translated into Urdu 'nazm' (verse) -- perhaps for the first time -- was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the India International Centre. The book, titled “Romancing Tagore” (Basu Media) has been put together by Delhi-based poetess Indira Varma and Urdu poet Rahman Musavvir. The poems have been culled from all the phases of Tagore's prolific career.
The book launch was followed by the release of a music album containing eight nazms sung by noted Indian vocalist Shubha Mudgal and Pakistani artiste Najam Sheraz, with music by Debajyoti Mishra.
Over the past few years Rabindranath Tagore's works have been translated into more than 25 different languages but recreating the magic in Urdu was different for Indira Varma. “It was like falling in love again,” says Varma, the Delhi-based poet-lyricist.
However, as Varma pointed out at the book launch, “The translations are not verbatim.” Interestingly, the phrase she used for it is “transcreation, whereby the feeling and ideas contained in the songs are conveyed in the finest manner possible without strictly adhering to the verbal and grammatical arrangement of the original.”
Varma used to sit with five dictionaries to find the right words for Tagore's Bengali poems. “We first translated them into Hindi and then wrote them in Urdu,” she says.
Visva Bharati, which was for long the custodian of Tagore's more tangible and even intangible legacy, was convinced and brought on board; it even allowed the book to be published under its own banner.
The book does not merely bridge the gap between Urdu and Bengali, it also brings together two countries -- India and Pakistan, through the medium of music.

Compiled by Correspondent

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