For the first time, Switzerland’s most popular novel will be translated into the Indian language Hindi, a language spoken by over 420 million Indians.
With the book’s release planned for November, thousands of Indian children will soon be able to share in Heidi’s adventures. The translation will be published by the A & A Book Trust, and is the labour of love of mother and daughter team Arundhati and Avanti Deosthale. The 300-odd page hardcover book is unabridged, and is faithful to the original work by Johanna Spyri, which was first published in German in 1880.
“Our aim is to bring great stories from the world to the children of India and Heidi has been a favourite of my daughter and me for a long time,” editor Arundhati Deosthale told swissinfo.ch.
The whole project took a year and a half to complete, and the translation costs were covered by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
"Heidi was an obvious choice, because not only is it the most popular Swiss folk tale, but also because this story from the mountains would be something Indian children from the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand could identify with. Translations help a child to welcome cultural plurality and tolerance. Stories from foreign lands further the understanding and emotional experience of cultures," said Sadaf Raza, Programme Manager, Pro Helvetia New Delhi.
It remains to be seen if the Hindi version will replicate the global success of the Swiss classic – over 50 million copies have been sold in over 50 languages. Its backers are convinced that its message will be well received.
“What the world needs now is faith in essential goodness. The simple and innocent world of Heidi offers that,” says Deosthale.
Hindi-speaking audiences are not entirely unfamiliar with Heidi’s story. In 1958, a Hindi film adaptation called Do Phool (Two Flowers) was released. The role of Heidi – called Poornima in the film – was played by Baby Naaz (real name Salma Baig) who was one of the most famous child stars at the time.