The Dastaan of Dastangoi: Resurrection of the Urdu art of storytelling
New Delhi: It was the Urdu poet and critic Shamsur Rahman Farooqi who resurrected this art with his extensive and trendsetting research. He passed away last year in 2020. It is now Mahmood Farooqi who heads "Dastangoi Collective" that led to revival of Dastangoi in India.
He has written Dastan-e-Chauboli and Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharat and many other plays for the stage. The term Dastangoi, originates from the Persian language meaning Story (Dastaan) Narration (Goi ). And, the Dastaan of Dastangoi (story of this artform) traces its roots primarily to the 13th century Urdu-Persian art of storytelling.
This particular style of story narration evolved in the 16th century and its earliest references in print are identified with adventures of Amir Hamza titled Dastan-e-Hamza. Well, to make it easier for you to understand, it is similar to Hindi-Urdu theatre play in a poetic style, however not exactly the same.
This art form is known for its unique style of oral story narration through voices and gestures. And, the success of the performance depends a lot on the talent of the Dastango, a storyteller, whose voice is his main artistic tool in orally recreating the Dastaan or the story. The Dastango wears classical milky-white Mughal Angrakha while performing and recreates Mughal Court (Darbar) environment.
People who have seen Dastangoi performances in the past affirms that they were spellbound by the amazing awe-inspiring performances and magical atmosphere it created during the play. The enigmatic and all-engaging atmosphere it creates alters the experience of enjoyment you get in a movie theatre.
And it is the go-to destination for diehard Urdu lovers. The focus of this art form is a Dastango, and the eminent 19th century Dastangos included Amba Prasad Rasa, Mir Ahmad Ali Rampuri, Muhammad Amir Khan, Syed Husain Jah, and Ghulam Raza.
The good news is that Dastangoi performer Mahmood Farooqui returns to the stage with Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharat again on February 20, 2021 at IIC, after doing it last year in November 2020.
The program Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharat is a brilliant story in Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Sanskrit about the real hero of Mahabharata, the great Karna. It talks about the revolutionary Karna, a warrior in the Mahabharata epic, who joined the Duryodhana's side in the Kurukshetra war. He was a key warrior who aimed to kill 3rd Pandava Arjuna but died in a battle with him during the war. He is a tragic hero in the Mahabharata, in a manner similar to sweet mango gone bad or the flawed good man.
Karna is among the most popular and complex characters in the Mahabharata. He was a wonderful human being gone totally bad because he invested in bitterness. Karna, popularly known as 'Angraja' - the king of Anga. He got all the things in life a man can dream of today, a position and a place in the palace just like you clear the IAS examination and you get a good position in bureaucracy or say a ministry in the government to handle. He should have been happy, yet he decided to nourish bitterness in him about his low birth, he did not give up his resentment.
And all the Urdu lovers and everyone who admire theatre plays can look for their upcoming plays on their Facebook page of "Dastangoi Collective". Here is the link: