22 June, 2021

Translator’s Diary

Over time, I evolved my own philosophy of translation. It had to be a seamless flow between English and Kannada that preserved the savour and experience of the original while dispersing its seeds, writes Krishna Manavalli, a literary scholar, teacher, translator and trained musician

Illustration by Saahil
Translator’s Diary
Finding Kambar

It was sometime in the late ’90s. I was a disciple of Pt Rajeev Taranathji, the sarod maestro and literary/cultural thinker. On a quiet, sunny Bangalore afternoon, I finally met Kannada writer Chandrasekhar Kambar, the finest mythmaker of our times, at Taranathji’s house. The bond between the two greats is nothing short of legendary, going way back to the ’60s. Through the decades, Kambar published his works only after a nod of approval and some incisive comments from the maestro. So, the connection between myth and music is ingrained in my mind.

Mythic Heroes in the Flesh

As Kambar was about to leave, I asked him what he was writing. A thoughtful moment, and then: “An image keeps haunting my mind. Shivapada. Doctor, social reformer, thinker, musician, saint! Have I heard of someone like him? Perhaps Pandit Taranath, Rajeev’s father….” (For the uninitiated, a Tagore-like...

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