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Dastangoi is the lost art of Urdu storytelling – the narrating of dastans based on medieval Urdu tales.

The word Dastangoi is a compound of two Persian words Dastan and goi which means to tell a Dastan. Dastans were epics, often oral in nature, which were recited or read aloud and in essence were like medieval romances everywhere. Telling tales of adventure, magic and warfare, Dastans mapped new worlds and horizons, encountered the unseen and protected the hero through many travails and lovers as he moved on his quest. (Source: dastangoi.blogspot.com)

Led by Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain, both based in Delhi, Dastangoi performances are a must watch for any Urdu lover. There are no props or music or elaborate costumes – just these two performers (sometimes joined by a couple of more dastangos), enchanting the audience with Urdu stories and tales. They have also given the art form a contemporary twist, adding stories on themes from Partition to poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Most of the language and the meaning of words may actually not be understood, but the mesmerising, lyrical sound of Persian and Urdu that is effortlessly spoken, is sure to captivate you. The storytelling sessions, are seasoned with phrases bordering on vulgarity, elaborate descriptions of amorous behavior, women drinking alcohol and a bag full of tricks, all of which keeps you hooked.

They are currently in Mumbai for a two-hour performance of Rabindranath tagore’s novel Ghare Baire (The Home and the World), in the dastangoi style.

When: Friday, May 4 at 6pm
Where: Jnanapravaha, Queens Mansion, Ghanshyam Talwatkar Marg, Fort
Entry is free.

Ghare Baire or The Home and the World is a 1916 novel by Rabindranath Tagore. The story illustrates the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture. These two ideas are portrayed in two of the main characters, Nikhil, who is rational and opposes violence, and Sandip, who will let nothing stand in his way from reaching his goals.

Ghare Baire was also made into a 1985 film by Bengali director Satyajit Ray. It features Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee, Jennifer Kendal (in her last film appearance) and Swatilekha Chatterjee, married Sengupta. Ray prepared a script for it in the 1940s, long before he made his first film Pather Panchali. It deals with a subject that has often appeared in Ray’s work; the emancipation of women, and what it does to them and to the men who love them. The film was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival. (Source: wikipedia)