10 Oct 2011

New Link Road, Andheri (W)

Dastangoi: Dastan-e-sedition.
Wordfully Yours. 1st Mumbai International Story Telling Festival.

Dastangoi - to recite a Dastan, is an old, oral, story telling tradition what was popular in India, probably brought it from Persia/Afghanistan and Urdu-fied or Indianised. It's most famous version was even printed. Known as the the Dastan of Hamza, it had 46 volumes of about 1000 pages each and was printed in the late 19th century at Lucknow by the publisher Munshi Nawal Kishore.

You can read all about its history here.

Not a single extra word in the whole performance, expression or a wasted second. Bloody well written. Super tight.

Danish Husain.

The dastangos who performed at Wordfully yours were Rajesh Kumar and Rana Pratap Senger. The co-writer, Danish Husain introduced the audience to the story behind this art form and how he and his co-writer Mahmood Farooqui revived it.

That's not surprising because Mahmood Farooqui's book, Besieged. Voices from Delhi, 1857, is one that I recommend to people whenever and where ever I can, especially to those who have read The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple. However, digging up all the letters and voices from the grave of Mughal Dilli for his compilation and reviving the Danstongois is something totally different. Hats off to him and Danish.

But that's not the best thing about the story told at Wordfully Yours. It was how the art form was used to send electricity down the spines of listeners and opening the minds of people through a hard-hitting, funny yet sad story called Dastan-e-sedition.

It was written in support of Dr Binayak Sen. A sad story that makes one boil with anger. But not the one that was told to us. The story became a mirror of the society that we are part of. It made us laugh at ourselves and the government machinery that functions in our name. It's a must listen. It will make you laugh and them make you go home and think.

From now on, along with his book, I will recommend people to go an watch the Dastangos when they come to Mumbai or wherever you are.

Coming back to Wordfully yours, this performance was a perfect example about how an old story telling technique can come alive brilliantly when the issue is contemporary.

Indian television should also learn from them. (Mahmood Farooqui co-directed Peepli Live)

See this clip online.

So what's the latest in Dr Binayak Sen's state? Read the story of Soni Sori by Shoma Chaudhury


Iniyaal said...

Interesting... I would love to watch them or read more about them. Will check out the video for sure.

Vidya Sury said...

Superb. Tradition never really dies. Must find more video clips. Thank you, Gopal.

Slogan Murugan aka M S Gopal said...

The do die.. slowly or are transformed.


You do a great work SM ! :)
I look upto your blog! :)

The Floating Clouds said...

Thanks for sharing this. Interesting to see how the content and form continues to serve contemporary questions and tastes.

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