As more Indians take to English and regional languages languish, it should come as no surprise that few bother to spend time and energy in developing quality fonts for Indian languages, more so for Gujarati. But a former NID graduate has developed a multi-script font family that he claims is clean, legible and modern in appearance. It also supports five Indian languages including Gujarati.
The Kohinoor multi-script font family has been developed by Satya Rajpurohit for Indian Type Foundry, a firm that he co-founded with Dutch typographer Peter Bilak. “Apart from the drawing quality, these fonts come with large number of characters (672 per font) which is necessary to write correct Gujarati liguistically and typographically. Most Gujarati fonts comes with a limited number of characters (150-200) which is not enough to write Gujarati properly,” said Rajpurohit.
Characters refer to not only the base alphabets but also the punctuation marks, currency symbols, math symbols, maatras and hundreds of conjuncts and ligatures which are combination of two or more alphabets. He added that as far as Gujarati is concerned, the availability of professional quality fonts is limited.
“Our fonts are different as they are aesthetically beautiful and technically advanced. Many characteristic features (such as bottom exit strokes) of Gujarati have been removed in order to achieve a cleaner look, which is essential for comfortable reading experience,” he said.
“Usually when an English word appears in a regional language text, it appears striking to the eyes because in most cases the English font looks different in design; however in Kohinoor multi-script, since the family supports multiple languages and is designed to work with each other, it’s easier to work on multilingual projects where more than two languages are used,” said Rajpurohit.
The scrip already supports Devanagari, Latin, Tamil and Gurmukhi (Punjabi) scripts, and now they’ve added support for Gujarati. As to the response to these fonts, he said that it takes time for fonts to gain popularity and acceptability.
On being asked as to why few Indians are interested in developing fonts in Indian languages, Rajpurohit said: “Developing one quality font family for an Indian language may very long depending on the complexity of the script.
Kohinoor Mult-iscript, for example, has been in development for five years and is yet to offer support for all the 10 official Indian languages. Moreover, unlike the west, we ignore the need for quality fonts and are not willing to spend time or money on developing such fonts,” he says.
“With the emphasis shifting to English, regional languages are getting sidelined. We hope designers will be able to create attractive content in vernacular languages with the help of new fonts,” said Rajpurohit. Another reason he mentions is the rampant piracy. “After you invest so much time and energy in developing a font, it is disheartening to see piracy ruining the effort. While there are some checks in place, it is impossible to keep an eye on everyone who may use a font without buying it,” he said.