Friday, June 18, 2010

Delhi Workshop--Follow up

Follow up to the Delhi Workshop--- Only for those who attended it earlier.

Sunday, 20th June, 4 pm.

A-1, Second Floow, Gulmohar Avenue, Tikona Park,
Jamianagar, N. Delhi-25

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Preview of the Wokshop in MINT, Delhi

“You perform and learn” : Mahmood Farooqui on dastangoi
Posted by Himanshu Bhagat on Thursday, June 3, 2010

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Farooqui (left) with Danish Husain

Farooqui (left) with Danish Husain

Credit Mahmood Farooqui for making something as exotic sounding as “dastangoi” a familiar word for many. Over the past five years, Farooqui and his fellow dastangoh Danish Hussain have held many dastangoi performances in India and overseas, spinning fantastic yarns in chaste Urdu, and trying to revive the lost art of Urdu storytelling. The response has been enthusiastic and now Farooqui is training others in this fascinating art to carry the tradition forward. He held a dastangoi workshop in Mumbai and will be conducting one in Delhi from today. We had a quick chat with Farooqui ahead of the workshop.

Can the art of Dastangoi be taught?

We are not teaching the art. The workshop will be a way of interacting with people and telling them about what we do. There is no rocket science behind it. It might look daunting and the language is a problem, but then any literary language would be a problem. That just needs to be surmounted.

We did a workshop in Mumbai and 5-6 people who attended have done about 10 shows so far. This workshop too will culminate in performance by two new people. The point is if people want to do it, they can. I rehearsed with people in Mumbai for 2-3 months. It’s basically about working with stories and working with a partner. It is different from other forms of storytelling—one reason being because it evolved over two-three centuries of telling.

Who did you learn Dastangoi from?

I began by reading the tales to my uncle SR Farooqui, the noted Urdu critic and scholar, who corrected us and directed us how to read them. Then Himanshu Tyagi and I rehearsed and worked on it, basically learning on the job. You perform and learn. What kind of art form it is and where it can go is open—something that needs to be seen.

But how many people have working knowledge of Urdu today?

In India many are familiar with the language. Many Muslims for instance don’t know how to read and write Urdu but are familiar with the words and idioms. A lot of people are avid followers of Urdu poetry. So there are people with some working knowledge of Urdu and that is the point. Of all the people who have performed dastangoi, including Danish and Naseeruddin Shah, I am the only one who can read and write Urdu. So it is possible to do it, I guess.

How many people have signed up for the workshop?

About 25 people from various backgrounds—teachers, media people, theatre veterans, NSD graduates. Oddly enough, many haven’t seen a dastangoi performance before.

Do you see dastangoi surviving on its own, without any institutional support?

Survival means what—shows, performances? That’s the challenge of the art form. For performers to survive financially—that’s a different problem. Dastangos need to do other things to survive.

The workshop for aspiring Dastangos will be conducted at the Attic,36 Regal Building, New Delhi Tel: 23746050. It is supported by the India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore


Friday, 4th June, 10am – 5pm
Saturday, 5th June, 10am – 4.30 pm

Sunday, 6th June, 12.30 – 5 pm

For details, write to, and visit