Stories and the stage

Artiste Padma Damodaran  

Artistes Padma Damodaran and Kailash Waghmare stole the show during the staging of Qissebaazi , the multilingual storytelling project of The Hoshruba Repertoryat Saptaparni. Rubaroo hosted it as part of the Interfaith Storytelling. Directed by actor-storyteller-director Danish Husain, famed for reviving the Dastangoi series, Qissebaazi presented these two, narrating stories in a unique way that charmed the the audience.

For Danish Husain there was a gap of one-and-half-years between performances. “A lot of people wanted me to perform and I too wanted to get back to storytelling. But I wondered why just Urdu?” he shares, adding, “The way urban centres and culture are evolving, I find that languages are kind of taking a back seat. Most of the stories from our literature would be lost unless they are presented in the new media — web series, television and internet.”

He wanted to come up with a form which ‘marries literature and performance’ and make these stories more accessible to people. Each story was divided into two languages — a core language of the text, and a bridge language (either Hindi or English) which conveys the content to the audience.

While the first show was held in November 2016, he credits his team of performers and says the sessions have worked because they provide entertainment with content (stories) from literary masterpieces. “We wanted the audience to find the storytelling compelling, I told the performers that they can walk around and do anything on the stage as long as it facilitates the storytelling,” he shares and gives an example. “Padma who performed in Hyderabad brings in her dance skills and mudras of Mohiniyattam while telling the story. Kailash, who narrates a Marathi story sings Marathi folk songs during the performances.”

Besides Hindi and Urdu stories, two Malayalam and one each of Marathi, Sanskrit and Punjabi stories are part of the repertoire. When we ask if a Telugu story can also be part of the series, Danish quips, “We want to push and get more languages. If some Telugu speaker wishes to join, he is more than welcome.”

Different roles

He switches into different roles with élan and observes most of us have versatile personalities while balancing our different passions. “We wear different hats during day multiple times and there is no protocol like, ‘Oh, I am switching into an actor’ or ‘Now, I am trying to be a director.’ It is just those multiple things that one does and we all have different skills. Because I do these things in a public sphere, they are more pronounced; I am like anybody else.”

Enthusiasm is his muse and a key to all his prepositions. He won’t take up direction, storytelling or acting unless the field excites him. “There has to be something attractive about it,” he affirms but admits he takes up some roles only for the money offered by the producers. . “Money is very important as it funds my other theatrical projects. Most of the times, the projects that I am initiating — be it directorial or theatrical productions — have to excite me; I am not going to jump into it just for the heck of it.”

He is happy with young theatre actors/groups who begin their craft with excitement and passion. “That is a great beginning point,” he emphasises and adds, “How you take off from there is important. If one wants to do some high quality work, one needs to work hard on the skills to take it further.”

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 4:35:03 AM |

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