B. Venkat Mani

Anuvaad (Translation), Anukaran (Mimesis), Samvaad (Dialogue): Translating Bertolt Brecht’s Die Dreigroschenoper (1928) as Teen Kaudi ki Nautanki (2010)

This paper presents preliminary notes on Teen Kaudi ki Nautanki, my current project of translating Bertolt Brecht’s Die Dreigroschenoper (1928) from German into Hindi. Conceived as a preface to the translation, the paper addresses the relevance of a new translation of this play into Hindi, while outlining specific challenges that accompany such a translation.

The paper begins with a brief historical overview of adaptations/translations of Brecht’s plays into Hindi/Hindustani and their productions for Hindi speaking/comprehending audiences in India, highlighting the intertextuality and interculturality of Brecht’s Hindi adaptations. By focusing on just Hindi adaptations—which in most cases draw on the English translations of the plays—the paper privileges specific evaluations of non-Anglophone linguistic contexts for locating Brecht in/and Asia. To this end, the paper identifies historical and political markers in post-Independence India as they bear upon translations/adaptations. The new Hindi translation of Die Dreigroschenoper reads issues central to the play—class, corruption, crime, and capital—in the context of early-21st century India of a free-market economy, multinational finance, and the ever-growing rift between the lowest, middle, and upper classes. The translation, therefore, utilizes a Hindi that is inevitably influenced by globalization and migration, without reducing the interpretation of these influences to Bollywood Hinglish, which is often cast as an easy alternative to the dry, bureaucratic, artificially Sanskritized Hindi. Situating the act of translation (anuvaad) in the possibility of an intercultural mimesis (anukaran) of/and dialogue (samvaad), the paper spotlights the linguistic hybridity and multiplicity to imagine the afterlife of the play in Hindi in the 21st century. The paper will be delivered in English.