Where Tom and Jerry speak Urdu

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Updated 28 November 2012
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Where Tom and Jerry speak Urdu

A passion for the Subcontinent’s cherished Urdu language and a love of comics resulted in Urdu Kidz Cartoon, a first of its kind website featuring Urdu comics for children. Riyadh-based civil engineer Syed Mukarram Niyaz founded the website that presents famous comics, such as Archie, Phantom, Tom and Jerry, Dennis the Menace, Garfield and Bugs Bunny — all translated into Urdu by his wife, son, relatives and friends.
“Urdu is a refined language, unlike the language used in Hindi movies/serials. I want to regenerate the original Urdu culture among our new generation,” said Niyaz.
He hails from Hyderabad, India, which has the second largest community of nearly 150-200 million Urdu speakers, after Pakistan.
Niyaz grew up reading comic books in English, Hindi and Urdu in Hyderabad and knows that comics are a great way to initiate a child into the habit of reading.
What Niyaz has done apart from providing a fun Urdu reading platform for children is that he has revived the spirit of old Urdu magazines. He talks of a foregone era as he recalls the 1970s and 1980s when India had many children’s magazines and comic books in Urdu, such as, Khilauna, Phool, Kalyaan, Payam-e-Taaleem and Noor, which published cartoons and comics.
Niyaz feels that many newspapers published in Urdu in his country neglect children by not publishing a single cartoon for kids.
As he found out, translating the comic strips to a much refined and traditional language, while keeping the humor alive is no mean task.
“While translating comic strips I always have to alter a lot according to traditional Urdu tahzeeb (culture). I prefer to avoid slangs such as buddhu, kaminey and gadhey. Instead, I use words like Kambakht, Ahmaq, Khabees and Na-hinjaar etc,” he said.
The 43-year-old father of five looks to his children to help him choose material for the site. His wife, a teacher, helps him select the exact Urdu phrases based on a child’s understanding.
Also in the cards is the introduction of new characters on the website such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Flash Gordon, Mickey Mouse, and Laurel and Hardy, in addition to classics such as Cinderella, Puss in Boots, and Hansel and Gretel.
Niyaz said the website makes a special effort not to publish stories that promote hatred toward any culture, religion, language, caste, creed and specific religious stories that have contradictory points with respect to basic Islamic principles.
Niyaz’s website also introduces the use of Urdu fonts, a feature not common in most ‘Urdu’ websites, which are mostly image-based, where searching even a single word in the whole content is impossible. It is created by his venture Taemeer Web Development that specializes in the creation of Urdu unicode-based websites.
Launched in February 2012, the website currently features nearly 150 translated stories and 20 comic characters. The response, though, is still less than desirable. Niyaz says it is such because of a lack of marketing.
“There are nearly 5,000 visitors per month; I hope it increases to 5,000 visitors per day,” an optimistic Niyaz said.
The website gets the most number of hits from Pakistan, followed by the US and the UK. The Gulf countries, such as, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, follow next, with India in the fifth position.

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REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Natalie Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) and Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven/Jane Hopper). (Netflix)
Updated 21 July 2019
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REVIEW: 'Stranger Things' season three

  • Hit series returns, funnier and freakier

DUBAI: Netflix’s “Stranger Things” crossed the line from hit series to cultural phenomenon pretty early on with its mix of Eighties nostalgia, sweetly humorous kids-coming-of-age story, sci-fi thrills and genuinely spooky scenes.

After a second season that brought a darker, more dangerous vibe but lost some of the fun, showrunners the Duffer Brothers seem to have struck a better balance between the two in the third season, released last week.

Set in the summer of 1985, the central gang of kids: Mike Wheeler, Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair, Max Mayfield, Dustin Henderson and telepath Eleven (or El — or Jane Hopper as she’s now the legal adoptive daughter of Sherrif Jim Hopper) are on school vacation, and it’s that awkward summer when the boys start to take more interest in girls than in Dungeons & Dragons, much to Will’s chagrin. Mike and Lucas are (at the start of the series at least) bumbling their way through relationships with El and Max respectively. The Duffers mine these awkward ‘first-love’ scenarios for rich humor and some genuinely touching moments, as well as some realistic takes on how the complications of love interests affects the tight-knit gang of boys we met in the first series. And of how they enable Max and El to bond. It’s great to see El relax into hanging out with her first real girlfriend (in the platonic sense).

There’s plenty of humor too in the double-act of Dustin and Steve Harrington — formerly the high-school heartthrob, but now struggling to retain his ‘cool’ edge while working in an ice-cream parlor in the town’s new social hotspot, the Starcourt Mall. New arrival Robin is his co-worker — and thorn in side, constantly puncturing his ego.

Of course, there’s a darkness stirring too. The sinister, otherworldly monster defeated by El at the end of season two is not, it seems, as gone as everyone thought. Strange power fluctuations trigger Will’s awareness of his nemesis, and the kids quickly realize that their summer holidays aren’t going to be as carefree as they’d hoped. There’s the issue of exploding rats, for starters, and Max’s older brother, Billy, is acting very, well, strange.

Everything that made “Stranger Things” so wildly popular, then, is still in place, including stellar performances from the ensemble cast and the eye-catching attention to Eighties pop culture (new Coke, Phoebe Cates and Ralph Macchio, for example), to — of course — the unsettling notion of something very wrong happening just beneath Hawkins’ shiny, happy surface.