Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) The works of one of the
subcontinent`s best-known fiction writers Ibne Safi, who had a cult
following including the likes of Agatha Christie, will now be
available in English.
Safi`s "Jasoosi Duniya" is a dysfunctional
world of titanic villains, mad-genius detectives, and alluring femme
fatales and a series spanning 125 novels published between 1952 and
Four titles ? "Poisoned Arrow", "Smokewater",
"The Laughing Corpse" and "Doctor Dread" ? translated by Urdu
scholar Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and released here by Safi`s son, Ahmad
Safi, have been brought out by Blaft Publications and Westland.
Agatha Christie once said of Safi, "I don`t
know Urdu, but have knowledge of detective novels in the
sub-continent. There is only one original writer ? Ibne Safi." His "Jasoosi
Duniya" and "Imran" series have brought him fame as a writer of
crime and detective stories.
Translating Safi`s works was both easy and
difficult for Faruqi.
"It was easy in the sense that there was no
complexity in Safi`s writings. But translating the Urdu humour which
he used so often and the cultural aspects were difficult," Faruqi
"My basic aim was to keep the language
correct," he said.
According to Ahmad Safi, Faruqi has done a
"Translating Ibne Safi was a challenging
job because of the frequent use of Urdu couplets and wry humour.
"I hope this effort will bring all of us
closer to my father. This is a great step and will help in bringing
to the forefront his works and also address a large audience that
was previously alien to my father`s writings," he said.
According to Westland CEO Gautam
Padmanabhan, Safi continues to have a strong fan following among
Urdu readers and these translations will make his works available to
a larger audience across the country.
"The choice of publishing Ibne Safi`s works
was due to a co-publishing arrangement we have entered into with
Blaft. They earlier published the very successful anthology of Tamil
pulp fiction and based on its success started scouting for pulp
fiction in other languages as well," Padmanabhan said.
"We would first like to see how these four
titles perform in the market. Depending on their success and in
consultation with Blaft, we would certainly look at translating more
titles. Ibne Safi was very prolific and there are more than 120
novels to choose from for the future," he said.
"He is somewhat legendary in Urdu reading
circles. My own Punjabi uncles used to hide his novels behind their
math textbooks and read him in class. After Blaft started work on
Tamil pulp fiction, we started asking around about detective fiction
in other languages, and when you ask that question about Urdu the
first name you hear from everyone is Ibne Safi," says Rakesh Khanna,
founder and editor of Blaft.
One of the most prolific Urdu writers of
the 20th century, Safi was born as Asrar Ahmed in Allahabad in 1928.
He started writing at a young age. When he was in class VII, his
first story appeared in the weekly Shahid.
During the independence movement and
afterwards, he was also branded a progressive for his ideas, and
warrants were issued in India for his arrest.
Then in March 1952, he began the detective
novel series "Jasoosi Duniya". Containing his original characters,
Inspector Faridi and Sergeant Hameed, the first novel was "Dilaer
Mujrim" (The Brave Criminal) was published in March 1952. The
central idea and theme of this novel was taken from Victor Gunn`s
novel "Ironsides Lone Hands". However, the main characters were
Safi`s own creation.
After finishing his education, Safi
migrated to Pakistan with his mother and sister in August 1952. He
founded Asrar Publications and started publishing "Jasoosi Duniya"
simultaneously from Pakistan and India. The political border between
the two countries did not divide the relationship he had formed with
In 1955, Safi created a new character,
Imran, and started publishing the Imran Series. The first novel of
this series "Khaufnaak Imarat" (The Frightening Building) was
published in August 1955 by A & H Publications, Pakistan whereas the
Indian edition was published in November 1955 by Monthly Nikhat,
Allahabad. He died on July 26, 1980.