Persian art of storytelling festival brings delight for Delhi theatre buffs

An ongoing festival in the city puts the spotlight on Persian art of storytelling that date back to the 16th century.

Published: 12th July 2019 10:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2019 10:15 AM   |  A+A-

Persian art of storytelling, a visual treat for Delhi theatre lovers

Persian art of storytelling, a visual treat for Delhi theatre lovers

Express News Service

Two gentlemen dressed in crisp white angrakhas sit back and tell you the most interesting tales.

Dastans if you will, of the beautiful princess Chauboli, those of Mahabharata and even stories about Partition, among many others.

This is part of the ancient art of Persian storytelling known as Dastangoi. Theatre director and writer Mahmood Farooqui has brought back this 16th-century art of storytelling back to Indian theatre spaces.

And city audiences can witness mesmerising performances at the Dastangoi Summer Festival which is being presented by Dastangoi Collective at Akshara Theatre.

Farooqui, co-director of the Bollywood film Peepli Live and author of Besieged, Voices From Delhi, 1857 is known to be the reviver of the art form.

His brainchild, Dastangoi Collective has been putting together many dastans (tales) from Dastan-e-Amir Hamza also known as Hamzanama.

“When I came to do Dastangoi under the guidance of Shamshur Rehman Farooqi, I drew on my theatre experience and made the innovation of having two people perform the dastan unlike the olden times when only one person performed. This innovation made the art more dialogue based and brought it to theatre spaces,” says Farooqui about the revival.  

The group, meanwhile, has also written their own modern dastans on Partition and other topical issues.

For example, Poonam Girdhani’s latest Dastan-e-Irfaan-e-Buddh which was staged last month, narrates the tale of Gautam Buddha in the form of Jataka tales.

The script utilises Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit and Pali all at the same time. Girdhani, who has previously performed Dastan Raja Vikram ke Ishq Ki, Dastan-E-Chauboli and Dastan Alice Ki, has penned it herself.

“I have been trained in theatre. So I think in terms of sequences and pauses. When I started writing, I did not know where to start. Later, I realised that one has to tell the story, and not enact on stage,” says Girdhani who is also one of the few women dastangos in India.

On the growth of dastangoi, Syed Shadab Husain says, “Farooqui saab has taken dastangoi to every continent. There are performances held in every part of the country now.

"People like Danish Husain are reviving the art in Mumbai which also has a huge theatre audience. People enjoy watching this kind of humanistic storytelling because of the dialogues and the love for the language of Urdu. We have our regular audiences who enjoy this immersive experience.”

Shadab who is the Head of Operations at the programmes department of India Habitat Centre, has been part of Dastangoi Collective for the last two years. He will be performing for the first time at this festival.

When asked about the challenges of using Urdu in dastangoi, Shadab says, “People tend to think that Urdu is difficult words, not realising how much we use it in our everyday lives in form of Bollywood music and other forms of entertainment.”

At: Akshara Theatre, Delhi, 11-B, Baba Kharak Singh Marg,

Closest Metro Stations: Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk and RK Ashram

Tickets: BookMyShow

Dastangoi Summer Festival 2019

Dastan Amir Hamza aur Amar Ayyaar ke Bachpan Ki by Usman and Amina

July 12, 7:00 pm onwards

Dastan Little Prince Ki by Poonam Girdhani & Rajesh Kumar

8:15 pm onwards

Dastan-e-Sedition  by Rana Pratap Senger & Rajesh Kumar    

July 13, 5:00 pm onwards 

Dastan e Partition by Meera Rizvi & Syed Shadab Hussain

5:45 pm onwards

 Raag Darbari by Darain Shahidi & Mahmood Farooqui

7: 00 pm onwards

Stay up to date on all the latest Delhi news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp