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Weave words the Dastangoi way

Quintessential Dilli, and yet a Dilli that can slip under the radar of popular interest. The Brunch team discovers a slice of their beloved city that’s not often served to those who do not seek!

brunch Updated: Jan 10, 2015, 13:57 IST
Asad Ali Asad Ali
Asad Ali Asad Ali
Hindustan Times

If you nurture hopes of being a raconteur professionally, then learning the art of dastangoi should definitely be on your bucket list. A 16th century form of Urdu storytelling, dastangoi has seen a major surge in popularity in contemporary times owing to the efforts of important literary figures such as Shamsur Rahman Farooqui. His nephew, Mahmood Farooqui, now handles the mantle of keeping the art form alive.

So if you’re in Delhi and feel that you have what it takes to keep an audience enthralled, get in touch with Farooqui and his band of dastangos. Ankit Chadha, associated with Farooqui’s Dastangoi group says that they organise workshops which are especially beneficial for those keen on taking up the art form seriously. The workshops have also been held in Mumbai and Lucknow, but they are primarily conducted in Delhi.

Dastangoi workshops are usually three days long.

"Typically, we select up to 20 participants for the workshops, which are usually three days long. The sessions which are led by Farooqui, help to acquaint everyone with the tradition of dastans, the discipline of the form as practised today, and introduce the texts that has traditionally been performed," says Chadha.

Although prior knowledge of Urdu is not required, one must know Hindi. There is no formal age limit. Chadha himself was just 22 when he started out – the youngest participant in that second edition of the workshops held in 2010.

More recently, the Dastangoi group trained two youngsters from Nizamuddin basti, under a project supported by Aga Khan Trust for Culture. One of them, Affaan, is just 13 years old! So if you’re interested, check out the group’s workshop dates and learn how to tell a good story.

From HT Brunch, January 11, 2015

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