(from Oct 17)
If you want to gleefully cuss, make faces at the traffic, then you walk. Each time I go to Juhu Crossword it’s almost like a pilgrimage, hiking double pace to cut past the traffic snarl-ups. The last trip was 45 min brisk and done till you reach JVPD. Then you navigate that labyrinth for the quickest way out as you put film stars’ names to dimly lit homes sitting pretty in obscenely huge compounds. But yes, attending a book launch that features the dialogues, in translation, of Mughal E Azam is worth it. Specially if one has spent most of the preceding evening trying to piece the dialogue together, while watching the classic on telly, “ uh huh, what exactly did she say?” And the redoubtable Mr Akhtar is worth it, silver haired or not. For once I’m not late.
Mr Akhtar, quite at comfort with the use and tone of words, spoke about the dignity of human relationships that is the fabric of the film. That is an interesting concept, I trhink, as concepts go. He then spoke on a number of issues and the point he made about translators/translations is interesting, about immersing onseself totally in the original language across genres to be able to any sort of justice. He drew a parallel from music, stating that S D Burman could compose as brilliantly in Hindi, because of his mastery over the forms of Bengali music, from folk to classical shruti. As an ideal this is great, but if one was to read/ study/peruse the classics of gujarati literature, Meghani and Tripathi and Munshi to begin with, it is too much. Just imagine battling past the 4 volumes of Saraswatichandra, probably it would take a lifetime given one’s speed and no actual translating would get done. He also recited a critical dialogue, where Emperor Akbar asks his heir to choose between the kingdom or his love, he has a tremendous presence and made the words roar.
The strangest part was helping out a distraught man with photos, only to be told later that he was the director’s son, and realizing that one’s clumsy point and click endeavors would reach the man responsible for this creative extravaganza. Of course, one bought a copy, duly autographed by Mr Akhtar and the translators, to gift- but I think I shall keep it afterall.
The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif’s Mughal E Azam
Nasreeen Kabir, Suhail Akhtar
Oxford University Press