Theatre director and actor Danish Hussain who is known for his performances in films such as Peepli Live (2010), Dhobi Ghat (2010) and Newton (2017), has been instrumental in reviving the lost art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi.
Hussain who recently performed Qissebaazi, a new format of storytelling, virtually, says, “I was intimately involved with the revival of the lost art form of Urdu storytelling, Dastangoi, between 2006-2015. And then a break came for a year for various reasons including my shift to Mumbai from Delhi. But when I decided to return to storytelling, I felt why just Urdu. I saw in big cities a kind of visual, urban culture drowning our Indian languages, especially their literature. I thought if people had less time to read them, they won’t find it tedious if the stories are performed to them in an entertaining, and engaging way. And thus germinated the idea of Qissebaazi — a platform where we perform stories from Indian literary and oral traditions.”
Asked about the effectiveness of virtual performances, he says, “I guess these are early days. If the lockdown extends and become a way of life, people will innovate, and we will see more quality performances. Those with resources might even invest in better sound, light, recording technologies. And may even turn a corner in their homes as a permanent performance space.”
The actor who went to the United States to open a musical storytelling concert with Ustad Hidayat Hussain Khan and TM Krishna got stuck there. He says, “I came a fortnight earlier so that I could spend some time with my sister who lives here but then the lockdown happened and I got stuck here. Not that I am complaining. I am fortunate to be with her in these trying times, and get guilty pangs when I see all the hardships around, especially in India. I spend most of my time reading, and memorising new poetry. Often, I go out for long walks if the weather permits.”