Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NCERT's queer remake

Adapting a literary work in the same medium but for a different demographic group is not a bad idea. But if you destroy the essence of the original in the process, the offense is unpardonable...worse than the Bollywood malpractice of "lifting" inspirations. It's only tragic that a great pioneering body like NCERT should be guilty on this count.

My son's Class V Textbook in English titled Marigold V includes a chapter called My Elder Brother, supposedly translated and adapted from Munshi Premchand's "Bade Bhai Saheb".

The English version tells its own story through a ridiculous direct speech narrative between the protagonist Munna and his elder brother Bhaiya. The dialogues are largely twisted and bereft of the original context. So is the moral which reads "The story shows that experience is as important as hard work"

Now, Premchand's story, as many of us are aware (http://coastaldelights.blogspot.com/2006/07/short-story-by-munshi-premchand.html could help if you aren't), is a moving tale of an hapless elder brother unnevred by the rapid yet casual academic strides of the happy-go-lucky younger sibling. Each time he builds a wall of defense in a desperate attempt to prove his might, he finds it unknowingly crushed by the little one.

Typical of Premchand, we find umpteen shades of human emotions lurking in this seemingly simple story. If one can't fathom any of those, it's perfectly fine. But why attempt a clumsy adaptation to create an "elder brother" unknown to Premchand?

NCERT is otherwise doing wonderful things in the world of education but it owes an apology to the unsuspecting innocent kids of Standard V who will suffer this literary mess as part of their syllabus.

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