The rupee symbol was a big bother when I was working on my MA project. Every time I thought about drawing it for my typeface project, I would end up confused, and give up even before I’ve put a single point on FontLab. I tweeted about my distress at the time, and Dan Rhatigan put the problem in much better words than I had managed.
The new rupee (symbol) is a conundrum, because it asks to be two different things at once. Elegant idea, but a design hassle. [source]
The new symbol for the rupee was announced close to two years ago. It was designed by Dr. Udaya Kumar, who described his rationale behind the design as follows:
My design is based on the tricolour, with two lines at the top and white space in between. I wanted the symbol for the rupee to represent the Indian flag. It is a perfect blend of Indian and Roman letters: a capital ‘R’ and Devanagari ‘ra’ which represents rupiya, to appeal to international audiences and Indian audiences. [source]
The shapes of the R and र while similar, don’t have to be the same. What happens when they are not? The perfect blend that Udaya Kumar talks about becomes less-than-perfect as soon as one moves beyond the logo-like symbol he had originally designed. Is the rupee symbol a modified R or a modified र? The answer to this question ends up in the hands of the designer. The way I see it, a modified R might suit a Latin typeface, and a modified र a Devanagari one. Especially, when the typefaces have strong modulation and distinct angles of stress. I am not even beginning to think how it would best fit scripts other than these two.
My personal struggle with this question is a result of my project including both Devanagari and Latin scripts. Not only is the design modulated (which itself makes the letters look different), the R and र in the design are not quite as similar the “perfect” rupee symbol would demand. After agonizing a long time over a common solution, I ended up with two versions—one for each script. I am still uncertain if this is the ideal solution (I can imagine a text with both scripts, what would one use then?), but I do not know what else can be.