Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Reviving the lost art form of Dastangoi

Laxmi Birajdar | TNN

Pune: The stories of Amir Hamza,paternal uncle of Prophet Muhammad,came alive through Dastangoi,the lost art form of story-telling.On Monday,Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain,recounted the epic narratives of Hamza at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and gave an insight into this rich art that involves complex Urdu poetry and oral recitation,interwoven with the rich strains of classical music.
Created and directed by Farooqui,who has been guided by S R Faruqi,Urdus renowned critic and writer,the performance is an attempt to recreate Dastangoi as it was performed in the 16th century,during the rule of Akbar.
The word Dastangoi is a compound of two Persian words,dastan and goi,which means to tell a dastan or epic,often oral in nature.
The Dastan-e-Amir Hamza is a highly important chapter of our literary history.Our maiden performances were at the India International Centre in Delhi in 2005, said Farooqui,also a thespian.
It was while devising a lecture-demonstration for this art form in 2005 that I first explored the possibility of actually performing the text.The best way to demonstrate its prowess was to actually let the text speak.Traditional Dastangoi was restricted to a single performer.The innovation I made was to rope in another actor so that we would alternate our recitations and participate as listeners to each others stories, said Farooqui.
Stories of Hamzas life and exploits have been collected in the Hamzanama,which came to India through Persia.It began to be recounted in Urdu in the 18th and 19th centuries and a structure was acquired through its form,oral recitation,Urdu poetry and classical music.
The shows executive director,Anusha Rizvi,recognised the scope of this art form once the initial performance was lapped up by the audience.Thats when we thought of pursuing it seriously and began delving deeper into it.We realised people were taking a genuine interest in this lost art of story-telling and were reacting positively to our performance,wanting to know and see more of Dastangoi, said Rizvi.
Farooqui has been training artists for the last four years.There are only about 10 people who can perform Dastangoi today.Being a theatre artist myself,I find it a very fulfilling art form, said Farooqui.
Actor-poet Danish Husain has been assisting Farooqui.He will be seen next in the film,Peepli Live, produced by Aamir Khan and directed by Farooqui and Rizvi.

The dastan or epic narrative of Amir Hamza was brought alive through oral recitation,classical music and Urdu poetry by artistes,Danish Husain (left) and Mahmood Farooqui at a performance at the FTII recently

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