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تازہ ترین کہانیاں

2012-08-20

A site where Archie, Richie and the rest speak Urdu


During a discussion on how children should be encouraged to read, rather than watch TV, Riyadh-based civil engineer Syed Mukarram Niyaz realised something — though children love to read comic books, there are none available for the Urdu-speaking population in India. It was this lacuna that prompted Niyaz to launch Urdu Kidz Cartoon, a first of its kind website for popular comics in Urdu.
"We may still find English digests likeTinkle, Champak, Amar Chitra Kathaand Archie along with Hindi ones like Chandamama, Nandan and Chacha Chaudhary, but none were available in Urdu. Back in the '70s and '80s, India had many children's magazines in Urdu, like Khilauna, Phool, Kalyaan, Payam-e-Taaleem and Noor, which published cartoons and comics. After Pakistan, India has the second largest community of Urdu speakers and there are now many newspapers published in Urdu. But none of these newspapers (published from Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai or Lucknow) have a single cartoon for kids. Such gross neglect towards children is astonishing by any standards," rues Niyaz.
Launched in February 2012, the website has comics like Phantom, Tom and Jerry, Dennis the Menace, Garfield and Bugs Bunny all dubbed in Urdu. Though Niyaz maintains the site, his wife, son, cousin and a friend help him with translation, selection of the cartoons, marketing and give him moral support. "As my wife is a teacher, she is aware of a child's behaviour. While translating, she helps me select the exact Urdu phrases based on a child's understanding. Sometimes when I translate a phrase according to 'gulabi (refined) Urdu', she bluntly rejects it and I have to rewrite it. She is also the main translator of this website after me," he says.
Niyaz's main objective is to inculcate a reading habit among Urdu speaking youngsters. He also wants to highlight and showcase the rich linguistic culture of Urdu, i.e. the Urdu tahzeeb. "Urdu follows the pahle aap or aap janab culture – it's a refined language, unlike what you see/hear in Hindi movies/serials. I wanted to regenerate the original Urdu culture among our new Urdu generation. While translating comic strips such as Billoo, Pinki, and Suppandi, I always have to alter a lot according to traditional Urdu tahzeeb. I prefer to avoid slangs such as buddhu, kaminey and gadhey. Instead, I use words likeKambakht, Ahmaq, Khabees and Na-hinjaar etc," Niyaz explains.
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Niyaz’s main objective is to inculcate a reading habit among Urdu speaking youngsters. He also wants to highlight and showcase the rich linguistic culture of Urdu, i.e. the Urdu tahzeeb.
He has changed the names of a few characters like Phantom to Shae'zor Naqabposh, Richie Rich to Chotey Nawab, Dennis the Menace to Nanhe Miya, Garfield to Bholu Billa, Suppandi to Ghaseeta and Archie as Jaani amongst others.
Niyaz's initiative also introduces the use of Urdu fonts in a website, a feature not common in India. It is created by his venture Taemeer Web Development that specialises in the creation of Urdu unicode-based websites. "Currently in India, we may find websites of many famous Urdu magazines/newspapers which are just image-based, which is of no-use as one cannot search a single word in the whole content. But because cartoon/comics are image-based and the text is also included in those images, we are translating/creating the text matter. We have decided to put the text-transcript at the end of the cartoon/comic image, so that anyone using Google Image search can find the respective cartoon/comic matter," he explains.
With nearly 150 dubbed stories and 20 characters, Niyaz shares that the response is lesser than expected, which he attributes to lack of proper marketing of some kind of 'displease ignorance' by the Urdu community. "We get most number of hits from Pakistan, followed by the USA and the UK. The Gulf countries, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia, follow next with India being on the fifth position. There are nearly 5,000 visitors per month; I hope it increases to 5,000 visitors per day," he says.
Though not downloadable at the moment, users can save the strips on their computers. With the planned introduction of characters like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Flash Gordon, Fauladi Singh, Detective Moochwala, Mickey Mouse, Shikari Shambu and, Laurel and Hardy in the pipeline, Niyaz also plans to publish classics like Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and Hansel and Gretel.
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