KARACHI: The National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) is making efforts for the revival of 13th century Urdu oral storytelling art - Dastaangoi - on its own, as the performing arts school has come up with yet another Dastaangoi festival here.

The three-day open-air Dastaangoi festival began at the academy on Friday night that saw an overwhelming participation of art, culture, and literature-loving individuals.

NAPA alumni and known storytellers, Nazrul Hassan, Fawad Khan and Syed Maisum Naqvi, performed and presented Tilism-e-Hoshruba - an epic narrative of the adventures of the legendary Persian hero Amir Hamza, and Haweli from Mushtaq Ahmed Yus­ufi’s outstanding book Aab-e-Gum. The first day session began at 8:00 pm and ended at around 9:30 pm.

The audience appreciated their art of storytelling and gave them a standing ovation.

While talking to Business Recorder on the sidelines of the event, known storyteller Fawad Khan said the Dastaangoi had been one of the great traditions of this region. It flourished under the Mughal dynasty, especially during the reign of Emperor Akbar, the great.

“Unfortunately, in the 20th century, and after partition of the subcontinent, the storytelling art died out. In Pakistan, we neglected our own traditions and, instead of promoting and preserving our culture, we idealized modern culture, education, and lifestyle.”

Fawad said efforts are being made to revive storytelling in the region and Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, the Urdu language poet, author and critic who passed away recently, played a vital role with his extensive research on storytelling art, especially on tale of Amir Hamza.

“We have also been making our all out efforts to revive storytelling since January 2014. We are teaching the art in local communities in Karachi, students from underserved areas of Lyari, Sachal Goth, Maripur Ibrahim Hyderi, etc, and have produced a good number of students who also become trainers. We are very optimistic that this very tradition will revive, one day.”

Overwhelming participation of people along with their families in such festivals shows that they have great love for their own art, culture, and literature.

Syed Maisum Naqvi was of the view that the revival of storytelling is a must to protect Urdu literature and language which is passing through a crucial juncture of its survival like other regional languages such as Sindhi, Balochi, Panjabi, etc.

He said our new generation must get inspiration from their heroes, rather than looking towards the West for everything. It would be a pity if the youth is not unaware of national heroes like Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, he said.

People want to listen to Dastaan, and learn about their forgotten traditions and culture, but there is dearth of good storytellers, Syed Maisum added.

When asked, Nazrul Hassan said a Dastaan is a lengthy and elaborate tale that narrates stories of heroism, romance, magic and adventure, etc.

"Unfortunately, storytelling has become little to none in our society. The art of storytelling has shifted to visual mediums after the technological boom," Nazrul Hassan said.

Meanwhile, NAPA officials asked people to come and experience how these three storytellers, Fawad Khan, Maisam Naqvi and Nazar-ul-Hasan will open the chest of a Dastan and reveal one of the discoveries of human emotions in different paradigms. They said Dastaan is an ancient form of a story, a symbol of timeless human existence.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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