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Delhi storyteller and dastangoi exponent drowns in lake near Pune

May 11, 2018 11:00 am | Updated 11:00 am IST - Pune

 Ankit Chadha, writer and storyteller.

Ankit Chadha, writer and storyteller.

In a tragic incident, Ankit Chadha, a Delhi-based writer and storyteller allegedly drowned in Uksan Lake near the hilly environs of Kamshet, 62 km near Pune.

The 30-year-old Chadha was noted as a highly talented exponent of dastangoi – a 13th century Urdu oral storytelling art form, and had toured India and the globe extensively lecturing and practicing the art in a bid to keep a dying tradition alive.

According to the Kamshet police, the incident took place on Thursday evening. Chadha had come down to Lake Uksan with a friend for a trip along the banks of the lake.

“According to the deceased’s friend, he slipped and fell at a point near the shore of the lake. Despite cries for help, the deceased, who did not know swimming, drowned into the deep waters. We were informed of the incident by the locals,” said an officer from the Kamshet police station, adding that the police were probing the events that led to Chadha’s death.

Aided by rescue teams, his body was fished out of the lake and reached Pune late Thursday night where it was immediately flown to New Delhi following completion of formalities.

Chadha was one among the dozen or so practicing exponents of dastangoi in the country.

Becoming infatuated with this art form while studying history at Delhi’s Hindu College, his presentations on the mystic poet-saint Kabir and 14th century musician-poet Amir Khusrow Dehlavi were particularly noted, as were his biographical accounts (told in dastangoi form) of the ill-fated Dara Shikoh.

His fascination with Amir Khusrau led him to pen Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles (2016). He also co-authored My Gandhi Story (2014, with Nina Sabnani and illustrator Rajesh Vengad).

He had spoken on, and performed, this unique art form in the Harvard and Yale universities, besides other parts of the United States.

Chadha was in the city for an engagement on May 12 to present the Dastan-e-Kabir (story of Kabir) in dastangoi at the Gyaan Adab Centre before tragedy cut short his life.

He is survived by his parents and an elder brother.

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