Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello in Marathi


His soul-searching books have inspired readers across the world, and have explored an unconventional dimension of spirituality that transcends all religious or cultural barriers. Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is undoubtedly a trend, who will soon be a part of an average Maharashtrian’s booklist, thanks to the efforts of city-based Scion Publications Pvt Ltd, which has embarked on a daring and daunting task of translating Coelho’s books from English into Marathi and Gujarati.

Scion’s director, Nitin Kottapalle, has bought the rights to translate all the books written by the author, and Scion’s first Coelho translation: The Witch of Portobello is due for release in December. Kottapalle has also bought the original photograph used in the English version’s cover from a Spanish agency ‘Idee’, for 350 Euros, which he will be using it on the Marathi translation’s cover as well.

Kottapalle, a translator himself and the winner of the State ‘Tarkateerth Lakshman Shastri Joshi’ award for the best translation in 2004, had translated Coelho’s The Alchemist and The Zahir into Marathi earlier, when he was heading the regional department of Macmillan Publications, in Pune. However, he transferred the rights of the books to Padmagandha Publications and quit Macmillan in December last year to start Scion and acquired the rights.

“My first association with Coelho was as an average reader rather than as a publisher,” said Kottapalle describing his encounter with the author’s works. “Coelho’s books describe a treasure trove of experiences, laced with complex human emotions like love, lust, freedom and anger which every ordinary individual undergoes. His writings urge the reader to discover himself and every reader interprets Coelho differently. After reading him, I wanted to bring back Coelho to my culture and to my people, in a language that they would comprehend,” he added.

Scion’s contract with Coelho’s agents gives it the rights to translate, publish and market all his books. Stressing that Scion has been marketing “Coelho, the author” rather than just the books, Kottapalle said, “We have retained the original names in the book and the title remains the same to facilitate identification. We have changed only the language, not the ideas,” he said. “The Alchemist’s translation sold over 10,000 copies and hence the expectations are high,” he added.

However, translating a western best-seller into an indigenous language, keeping in mind the cultural sensibilities as well as linguistic shortcomings is no easy task, agreed Kottapalle. Citing an example from his Alchemist translation, he said, “Some English words do not have a Marathi equivalent. For eg, The Alchemist in the translated version was referred to as ‘Kimayagaar’ — the closest we could come to the original without changing its meaning,” he explained.

Though Prashant Talnikar, the translator of The Witch of Portobello, said mercifully, he did not have to face many problems in finding Marathi equivalents, the process had not been smooth throughout. “There are similar words in both the languages which convey different connotations and one has to be cautious about how they should be translated, as the danger of misleading the reader looms large,” he said.

1 comment:

aart hilal said...

I also enjoyed this book a lot!
Have you heard that Paulo is inviting readers to adapt his book to the movie screen?
It's really exiting!
Here's the link of the contest called The Experimental Witch:

Have a great day