Love's labour: the complete works of Shakespeare now available in Punjabi
Surjit Hans’ interest in the works of William Shakespeare was first sparked when he was a student, but it was not until he had retired from academia that he started on the labour of love in which he would lose himself and which took two decades to complete.
Now, the 82-year-old has finally completed his translation of Shakespeare’s rarely performed Henry VIII into Punjabi, marking the 38th and last of the Stratford Bard’s plays to be made available in the South Asian language. An estimated 100 million people speak Punjabi, mainly in India, Pakistan, Britain and Canada.
“It started in my college days when I played a minor part in Macbeth,” Mr Hans, who studied at Punjab University in Hoshiarpur, told The Independent. “And then I played the role of Laertes in Hamlet.”
Mr Hans began translating the plays in 1993 when he retired as head of the department of history at the Guru Nanak Dev University in the Punjab city of Amritsar. The first work he translated was Othello. For each translation, he received 8,000 rupees (£100), which he reckoned worked out as around 40 rupees a day. He averaged two plays a year.
The retired academic said he hoped performances of his translations would be staged and he said he believed Punjabi audiences would respond well to Shakespeare’s stories because of the “commonality of themes”. He believes it is unfair that Shakespeare’s works should only be available to those who speak English.
No north Indian aware of the story of the emperor Aurangzeb, a conservative Mughal ruler of the 17th century who imprisoned his father and murdered his brother, could fail to be moved by the intrigues contained in King John, Mr Hans says. At the same time, The Two Noble Kinsmen, with its tale of two cousins fighting to the death over the affections of the same woman, has parallels with the plots of many Bollywood films.
“Take for example the treatment of the elderly in King Lear – well, we leave thousands of old people at the Kumbh Mela [Hindu festival] because we cannot afford to keep them,” he said. “Also, there is the issue of arranged marriage in The Taming of the Shrew.”
Mr Hans, who spent six years in the late 1960s in London, where he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, devoted much of his academic work to the study of Sikh literary sources. These included the Janamsakhis, the tales that surround the birth and life of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith.
Having completed the works of Shakespeare, he said he is now keen to expand his repertoire and translate into Punjabi some of the “basic” texts of biology and economics. He added: “There is nothing left for me from Shakespeare. I am thinking about The Origin of Species and The Wealth of Nations.”
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
People are criticising Fifa World Cup sponsors with corrupt corporate logos
Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
British tourists complain impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Fifa corruption live: Sebb Blatter warns 'more bad news may follow' as he clings to power
Skull found in Spain could be the world's first-ever murder victim
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...