Meet the Tamil translators of Mills & Boon
As a teenager, writer D.I. Ravindran read Mills and Boon, mainly because the language was simple. He read about 25 books before moving on to other novels. He belonged to the generation that read James Hadley Chase novels on the sly.
Now, he is 51 and has translated a Mills and Boon (M&B) romance into Tamil. He worked on Lynne Graham’s The Boss’s Valentine, Bossin Kaadhal in Tamil.
Rajalakshmi Sivalingam, 47, is the other translator. Her Avargal Meendum Inaidhaargal is the Tamil version of prolific romance author Penny Jordan’s They’re Wed Again.
Rajalakshmi has read over 30 M&Bs as a young adult and was delighted at the chance to translate them.
The tough part was portraying the intimate scenes in Tamil. Local sensibilities had to be taken into consideration and, at the same time, the words had to sound right. Ravindran says that diluting the content would have meant injustice to the original author. “So, in a sense, I softened the blow, in some places,” he smiles.
Rajalakshmi did something similar. She has two grown-up children and says she’s translated the book in such a manner that they can read it too.
“I understand the concerns of people when it comes to reading steamy scenes. But, I think we must be comfortable reading about the physical side of a relationship. But yes, I have ensured sensibilities are not hurt,” she says.
Ravindran says that while reading the original, he also figured out that many local authors have been “inspired” by M& Bs. “From one novel, they’ve written four!” he says.
The work of translating the novels was entrusted to Namma Chennai Publication Pvt Ltd that publishes Namma Chennai and also takes up translation work. D.I. Aravindan, editor, Namma Chennai, says that when they landed the project, they worked hard to ensure the translation was smooth. So, though the stories are set in a foreign land, the turn of phrases and nuances are very Tamil. No “Varugiraen naan ange,” Junoon Tamil style!
Aravindan says translations are our window to the world and allow readers in regional languages to sample the creations of writers from across the globe.
As for M&B, he says that the series’ USP is great conversation, snappy dialogues and a psychological approach to any issue.
Apparently, one of their translators returned the script because she was not comfortable writing out the love scenes. That was before they signed up Rajalakshmi and Ravindran. “Some bits may sound like a soap opera, but the book is much more than that,” he says.