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Nashist Shaam Kahani: An evening of short stories

This weekend, theatre artists will do dramatised reading of short stories by some of the best authors of our time including Premchand, Gulzar and Ismat Chughtai.

art and culture Updated: Jun 24, 2017 09:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
story,short stories,Gulzar
KK Kohli, Ekant Kaul, Priyanka Sharma and Maneesh Manoja during rehearsals.(Ravi Choudhary/HT Photo.)

When was the last time you were in tears listening to a short story? When did a story narration transport you to the world of its characters? Actually, when was the last time someone read a short story by Premchand, Ismat Chugtai or Kamleshwar to you? This Sunday, Impresario Asia, a performing arts group, will organise Nashist Shaam Kahani or dramatised reading of short stories (Hindi) by authors who have written on composite culture, among other themes.

Traditionally, nashist refers to a literary evening. The Awadh region and Delhi have a history of nashist.

Impresario Asia, founded by playwright and director KK Kohli, has been doing one nashist a month since 2004. It did 100 sessions of Ghalib-Ke-Khatoot in which renowned playwright Anis Azmi read Ghalib’s letters. “The second format of nashist is sham kahani. And in the third format, we invite people from the creative fraternity including writers, film makers, painters and poets to interact with the audiences,” said Kohli. “We have hosted Kamleshwar, Krishna Sobti, Kailash Bajpeyi, Mujtaba Hussain, Amir Qazalbash, M.S. Sathyu and Zohra Sehgal,” he added.

Kohli was part of Hindustani Theatre founded by Begum Zaidi in 1955. He went on to join various theatre groups that were active in Delhi in 1960s such as Delhi Art Theatre, Abhiyaan and Yatrik.

In 1982, he formed Impresario Asia, the first production of which was a Punjabi opera, titled Bichhde Paani. It was followed by plays on Dara Shikoh, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Amrita Pritam and Mahatma Gandhi.

“All the while, I was looking for ways to make theatre simple and accessible. That was when the idea of nashist occurred to me,” said Kohli.

During Nashist Shaam Kahani, Kohli introduces the artists to the audience; they read stories for around 90 minutes followed by a question and answers session.

Most of the theatre artists who render stories during nashist have worked with Kohli in different productions. “Shaam kahani is an extension of theatre. Doing theatre is becoming very difficult in terms of costs and logistics unless you have a sponsor. This is why I find sham kahani a very effective way to connect with the audience,” said Maneesh Manoja who has been doing theatre for more than four decades. “In this era where one is encouraged not to ask questions, we ensure that we leave the audience with questions pertinent to our rights,” he added.

Ekant Kaul, project manager with an IT company, has worked with various theatre groups in Bengaluru and Delhi. The creative liberty he can take while performing sham kahani is what attracts him to the format. “It is very flexible in terms of modulation and tone. I can approach a sentence in a story in a certain way and you can treat the same sentence differently,” said Kaul.

Priyanka Sharma, former journalist and freelance theatre artist, is a regular in nashist productions. “Theatre is an audio-visual medium but here, you just give the audio and the audience creates visuals itself,” she said.

What: Nashist Shaam Kahani-- Dramatised readings of modern short stories.

Where: Amaltas Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road.

When: 7pm, June 25.

Entry Fee .

First Published: Jun 23, 2017 20:38 IST