Stepping off an empty Bandra by-lane into a chaotic world of flying sorcerers and audacious thieves requires, at the very least, a surreal shift in perception. And that is one illusion of many, a tilism, as a Dastangoi performer would put it. Over four days, ace dastangos Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain, with their brood of storytellers-in-training, presented tales from the Tilism-e-Hoshruba and other texts at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, as part of the first-ever Dastangoi festival.
The dastangos, dressed in white, kept the audience riveted as their voices soared above the persistent sea wind, bringing to life remorseless tricksters who behead everything in sight and spunky empresses who command an army of sorcerers.
Excerpts from a conversation with Farooqui and Husain, who have trained other people in the art for the past year.
How did the festival come about?
Mahmood: I have been working with people in Mumbai and Delhi for a year. Part of the idea behind the festival was to showcase all these new tellers. Also, all the stories have different flavours — we were able to present more stories than we ordinarily perform in a single show.
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