Dastangoi: Story Of A Lost Art Form
Dastangoi is a 16th century Urdu oral storytelling form. It is an ancient form, which had died down, thanks to the world of technology we live in. It’s possible that some might never have heard of this Dastongoi. One should be grateful to some talented and skillful storytellers; this form is reviving slowly and gaining momentum. One of such youngest dastango (story teller) is Ankit Chadha, who was into corporate for many years but now is a proud and content dastango. He is the author of the National Award winning book for children, “My Gandhi Story” and the recently released "Amir Khusrau - The Man in Riddles".
Dastangoi, the lost art of storytelling, developed around the adventures of an Arab hero - Amir Hamza, in 8th century AD. The art form was popular towards the sixteenth century but with shrinking audiences and dastangos, it couldn't survive. The long lost art came back in 2005 with Shamsur Rahman Faruqi and his nephew Mahmood Faruqi. Ankit Chadha got the motivation from them and now he is a very skilled dastango.
The Humming Tree in Bangalore organized an event Celebrating Diwali with Dastangoi by Ankit Chadha. The Humming Tree, is a platform that brings together interested people for lovingly curated intimate sessions around books, reading, and the love for words, through book meet-ups, book shop crawls, spoken word, poetry, workshops, and author meets among other things.
The setup was as according to the mood. The scented flowers, lighting and the music could take you to a different world. And then there was the excitement of the audience, who were crazily in love with Ankit Chadha and his works. This was all done in a cozy room. The dastan was "Dastan Jai Ram Ji Ki". Based on AK Ramanujan’s essay, ‘300 Ramayanas’, this dastan depicted how a single story can be adapted into different forms. Multiple narratives circulate in the world in place of a singular one. And the same is with "Ram Katha (Story of Ram)". The versions of Ramayana are different in various Ramayanas, be it Tulsidas, Valmiki or Jain. The significance of the story is same, but there are various versions to it throughout the world. The magic of Ram Katha, the way of storytelling, we felt all of it the 1 hour session.
It was all the joy which was shared that day, the belief that the story needs to be told, the roots in the rich past, contemporary ideas, a lot of research involved and blended with the talent, the experience was worthwhile. Yes, there are people like us, who love these things more than the Bollywood drama that the market is currently selling. Wish to get more of these art forms and performances!