The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Muggles to maglus, boy wizard goes desi

Bhopal, Nov. 2: Watch out, all you maglus, the wizard is arriving, in Hindi.

On Children’s Day, November 14, the first Hindi translation of a Harry Potter book will be on the market and, according to the publisher, all 40,000 copies of the first edition of Harry Potter aur Paras Patthar are already booked.

Bhopal-based Manjul Publishing House has the rights to publish J.K. Rowling’s bestseller — Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — in Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati and Marathi.

“You will be surprised,” Vikas Rakheja, CEO of the publishing house, told The Telegraph, adding, “the response has been tremendous from small towns of the state and elsewhere”.

Rakheja said, thanks to Harry Potter movies on cable TV, children even in remote areas are well-acquainted with Rowling’s work, which explains the demand.

Even English editions were sold out quickly on publication.

“It confirms that today the world has become a true global village,” Rakheja said.

Sudhir Dixit, a Hindi professor from Hoshangabad, led the team of translators who spent hours searching for appropriate words to get the “feel of Harry Potter”. Maglus — for muggles, ordinary beings untouched by the thrill of magic — came out of that hunt.

Dixit said he had read the entire Potter series and is an obsessive visitor to Harry Potter-linked websites. He read Philosopher’s Stone 35 times and saw the movie 30 times.

Many of the words came from the movie itself that was dubbed in Hindi. A list of 100 such words was given to the publisher to be followed in the translation.

Once complete, the Hindi version was given for vetting to an 11-year-old boy who went through every line and, at times, added or deleted words. He was randomly chosen from a government school.

Paras Patthar will sell for Rs 165, but under a promotion plan Rakheja has entered into with a Hindi newspaper, the book will be delivered at doorstep for Rs 150.

Rakheja said he is determined to get the book translated in Bengali, too. “The Bengali edition rights were given to a Bangladeshi publishing house but the project has run into some trouble. I am now negotiating with Christopher Little, the literary agent of Rowling, to get the Indian rights for the Bengali translation,” he said.

The publisher is tightlipped about the money he paid to buy the rights. “All that I can say is that even the advance is quite unheard of in India and on a par with the money offered by Japanese and Korean publication houses,” he said.

While visiting the London Book Fair in March, the idea of selling the Harry Potter book in Hindi occurred to Rakheja. Rowling’s agent had already received 20 offers from India for Hindi and other languages.

“I was shortlisted among four in view of our credentials and background in translation work,” Rakheja said, adding rather modestly that his humble first-floor office in old Bhopal’s congested Ibrahimpura area has rights to several leading self-help books such as Who moved my cheese and How to win friends.

Young Sahil and Sehwag can’t bear for November 14 to arrive, but their father, Uma Shankar — a maglu, obviously — is somewhat concerned.

“One may enjoy reading about demons and exorcism,” said Shankar, a resident of Bhopal, “but I am a little worried about its fallout.”

Witchcraft and sorcery may simply be fun for Western children, but in India, it might contribute to perpetuating an unscientific temperament, he said.

Well, you can always protect yourself with adarsha chadar — the invisible cloak wizard Potter wears.

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