Citizenship Programme for Literary Week- Dastangoi demonstration

Dastangoi is a 13th Century Urdu oral story telling art form. This art form reached its zenith in the Indian sub-continent in the 19th century and is said to have died with the demise of Mir Baqar Ali in 1928. Indian Poet and Urdu critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and his nephew, writer-director Mahmood Farooqui have played significant roles in its revival in the 21st century.

We were fortunate to have Ms. Nusrat Ansari and Ms. Ainee Farooqui, disciples of Mr Mahmood Farooqui, to conduct a workshop for us on this unique art on 26 April, 2018.

Both ladies graduates in History from Lady Shri Ram College, started training in Dastangoi in 2014. For Nusrat, Dastangoi is a way in which she gets to engage with 2 of her passions- Urdu and theatre. She feels that today, Urdu is not being taken seriously by the youth and it is losing the space it once held. For Ainee, Dastangoi is a medium by which history can break out of classrooms and reach a wider audience.

After an introduction by Ms. Sangeeta Aswani, both the presenters took the stage and introduced Dastangoi and its history and its journey with a PPT. At the centre of the Dastangoi, is the “Dastango” or story teller, whose voice is the main artistic tool in recreating a dastan, they said. These stories were divided as those of either WAR or LOVE, BEAUTY, DECEPTION or MAGIC!

Nusrat and Ainee then presented a few wonderful demonstrations of the art with a few short stories and some verse. Their passion for Dastangoi was clearly visible. They concluded the workshop with an Urdu version of Alice in Wonderland! This was a delight for the children. At the end, the talented presenters distributed colourful bookmarks amongst the children.

Ms. Aswani offered a vote of thanks for a remarkable opportunity as the guests were presented with shramdaan hampers and potted plants as tokens of our gratitude and affection.