Dastan-e Karn az Mahabharat Written & Performed by Mahmood Farooqui Produced by Anusha Rizvi
Dastan-e Karn Az Mahabharat the new presentation by Team Dastangoi is a unique and unprecedented effort at many levels. It is after some considerable time that the Mahabharata is being orally recited from the stage. Unlike the Ramayana, oral recitations and performance of the Mahabharata are rare and they are rarer still in Urdu, the base language of this Dastangoi show. Dastangoi is a tradition of Urdu storytelling that was immensely popular in the Indian Subcontinent in the 19th century after which the medium saw a decline. Its revival is credited to author, actor, and historian Mahmood Farooqi, who in 2005 brought the form back to the limelight. The term Dastangoi originates from the Persian words, Dastan, story; and goi, to narrate. Central to Dastangoi is the narrator who narrates a story – often an epic – scripted in a manner that combines prose, poetry, expressive gestures. The texts are a synthesis of Urdu, Persian, and regional languages such as Awadhi. The Dastango, or narrator, occupied the central spot in a gathering from where they would elaborately explain the plot of the epic, peppered with quips and quotes. Mahmood Farooqi, an accomplished author and contemporary Dastango who took upon himself the task of reviving the art form, presented the Dastan-e-Karn Az Mahabharat at Ark on March 18, 2018. based on the life of the much-wronged son of the sun god and Kunti. Discriminated against for all the wrong reasons, Karna comes out looking like the hero even though he was not on the side that won and was also perceived to be in the wrong. Having placed it in context, there were many things that the Dastan offered. It was a trailblazing display of Farooqui’s hold over the languages as he effortlessly slipped from Urdu to Sanskrit to Persian to Arabic and Hindi. The Dastan drew upon a variety of sources including the original Mahabharata and its Hindi translation. In Urdu, parts of the posthumous translation of the Mahabharata by the Pakistani writer Kamran Aslam as well as Tota Ram Shayan’s 200-year-old verse. In Hindi, the sources included, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s magnum opus on Karna and Rashmi Rathi, Dharmvir Bharti’s Andha Yug. It also featured parts of Razmnama, Emperor Akbar’s translation of the Mahabharata and Shivaji Sawant’s bestselling Marathi novel Mrityunjay. Farooqui managed to create a rich tapestry of languages by virtue of which he sketched pictures across the stage.