Go Now: A Two-Day Dastangoi Festival Comes to New Delhi

Skip the cinema this week and immerse yourself in the lives of Gandhi, Chugtai and Manto through classical Urdu storytelling.

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Ainee Farooqui and Nusrat Ansari while performing Dastan-e-Gandhi at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Photo Courtesy: Dastangoi Collective

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A rich tapestry of languages and stories emerges through a prolific narration of South Asian tales by two dastangos seated in the centre of a mehfil, dressed in crisp white attires. What follows is an entry into a world of magic as ancient tales and modern scripts on the lives of famed heroes and legendary writers come to life through a highly skilled oration that goes beyond the theatrics of a musical or a drama.

17 years ago, this Persian storytelling tradition was revived and dastans adapted all the way from Akbarnama on Amir Hamza and the Mahabharat to one on Satyajit Ray’s 1969 film Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen enchanted an audience worldwide. Spiced with tasteful wit, clean recitation and powerful writing, a dastangoi performance will take you time travelling.

From June 24-25, four performances will set the stage for a two-day festival by Dastangoi Collective at Akshara Theatre in New Delhi. Starting at 7:00 pm, on the first day check into the lives of Ismat Chugtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, two of modern India’s fiercest literary icons. Expect anecdotes around Lihaaf and an exposition into the life of a rebellious writer to the tales of mischief from the childhood of one of the greatest contemporary Urdu writers. The shows ‘Dastan e Ismat’ and ‘Mantoiyat’ will be performed by Rajesh Kumar, Udit Yadav and Amina Syeda and Meera Rizvi, respectively.

On June 25, stories from Mahatma Gandhi’s final and resilient times, when his isolation from high politics had grown due to distress from partition negotiations will be performed by Ainee Farooqui and Nusrat Ansari as Dastan-e-Gandhi. Wasi Zaidi and Meera Rizvi’s Dastan-e-Taqseem-e-Hind will be an amalgamation of archival material, news reports, documentaries and literature from the despairing partition of 1947.

 

Tickets are priced at ₹450 and are available here.

 

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  • Vamika Singh is a visual-narrative artist working closely towards exploring gender disparity and social dynamics in the South-Asian culture. You can also find her making music playlists, browsing sneakers and getting profusely attached to non-living things—even a laptop sticker for that matter.

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