The Financial Express

Introducing Ghalib in Bengali

| Updated: February 14, 2020 21:16:15

Introducing Ghalib in Bengali

To people of Bengal, Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, popularly known as Mirza Ghalib, is the most popular Urdu poet. Ghalib's poems, known as Gazal or Sher in Urdu, have immense emotional impact on the minds of Bengali poem lovers. A number of literates on Urdu and Persian have translated many of these poems for millions of Bengali-speaking people. Through these translations, they have tried to introduce some savour of Ghalib's works to those who don't have any knowledge of Urdu or Persian.

It was in mid-60's when Moniruddin Yusuf translated Diwan-e-Ghalib from Urdu to Bengali. Having very strong command on Urdu, Persian and Arabic languages, Yusuf's work has been accolade as a pioneering and classic Bengali translation of Ghalib which was published by Bangla Academy in Dhaka in 1965. Yusuf also showed his brilliance by translating Ferdousi's epic Shahnama into Bengali from Persian in six volumes. The great work was also published by Bangla Academy in 1991.

In the Bengali translation of Diwan-e-Ghalib, Yusuf discussed life and works of Ghalib and also presented an introduction of the formation of gazal. He, however, only gave the translated Bengali verses and didn't transliterate Urdu verses in Bengali side by side.   

A few other Bengali translations of Galib's poems are also available. Among those, Abu Sayeed Ayyub's Bengali translation titled 'Ghaliber Ghazal Theke' is also regarded as another masterpiece of translation. It was published in 1976 in Kolkata. He also presented a wonderful introduction of Ghalib focusing on his thoughts and philosophy.  Ayyub had also translated poems of Mir Taqi Mir from Urdu titled 'Mirer Ghazal Theke.' He provided Urdu transliteration in Bengali besides Bengali translation in both the books. Famous Bengali poet Shakti Chattopadhyay translated Galib mostly from English and took assistance from Ayan Rashid to decode original Urdu in some cases. No doubt, translation from English changed, even sometime distorted the tone and nuance of the original poems to a large extent.

Javed Hussen presents a new Bengali translation of Ghalib's poem.  Due to his multilingual skill, he has translated from original languages - Urdu and Persian - written by Ghalib. There are some 500 poems selected by the translator from original writings of Mirza Ghalib.

Javed Hussen's translation brings some new waves to the readers no doubt. He tries to translate most of the couplets in poetry form while some couplets appeared in prose style. Hussen uses non-conventional words in Bengali to show the depth of the couplets of Ghalib. He is also careful about choosing the words. 

It is, however, difficult to comprehend why Hussen has not put some sentences regarding his translation although he produced some 18-page introductory notes on Ghalib and his works adding a discussion on historical evolution of Urdu poem in brief. Neither does he mention anything about the different translations of Ghalib in Bengali. By doing so, he has deprived enthusiastic readers and Ghalib lovers. They will also miss a brief biography of Ghalib.

Javed Hussen dedicates his work to Abu Sayeed Ayub, labelling him the 'first man to do justice to Ghalib in Bengali'. Some may, however, differ with the observation especially remembering the work of Moniruddin Yusuf who first brought Ghalib in Bengali. Nevertheless, Javed proves that ardour for Ghalib knows no bounds and Bengali readers will continue to enjoy new translation.

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