Millennium Post

Trip down the memory lane

Udaipur Tales, a three-day long festival held in the ‘Venice of East’, brought renowned storytellers, theatre actors and authors under one roof

As a child, I remember sitting with my grandmother and listening to the stories of kings, queens, fairies; stories that would transport me to another world. The storytelling would go for hours –she would narrate everything dramatically and I would let myself lose in that magical world.

Time flew away and so did the culture of storytelling. However, I recently got lucky enough to be taken down that memory lane in the best possible way.

Udaipur Tales – a one of its kind storytelling festival held in the Venice of East - gave me a little bit of nostalgic reminiscence of those wonderful times. The three-day-long festival (February 21-23), organised by Sushmita Singha and Salil Bhandari, hosted a myriad of professional storytellers, authors, theatre artists and actors.

I reached the City of Lakes early in the morning and headed straight to Park Exotica Resort - my accommodation cum venue for the next three days. Mesmerized by the beauty of lakes and ancient architecture of the city on my way, I was already filled with excitement for this festival; and it didn't let me down.

On day 1, my attention was caught by young storytellers who weaved magic with their words. Following them, the folk music group from Jaisalmer played their primitive-looking instruments like Sarangi, Rawanhattha, Kamayacha, Morchang, Ektara and left everybody dancing to their tunes. The day also saw prominent personalities like Shantanu Guha Ray, and Seema Wahi Mukherjee, captivating the audience with a murder mystery and a tale of valour and love, respectively.

Highlight of day 2, according to me, was Syed Sahil Agha's performance. The artiste introduced people to the long-lost art of Dastangoi (storytelling in Urdu), and later on day 3 presented another performance in collaboration with Opera singer Kabuki Khanna. The gripping tale of Anna, a foreign spy who falls in love with an Indian king, coupled with Kabuki's voice left was a sheer delight to watch.

I caught up with the two artist post their performance to have a quick chat. "I believe storytelling is an important part of our culture and festivals like Udaipur Tales help in keeping that culture fresh and alive," said Sahil. He further added, "Our generation is moving away from our roots and stories are a way to familiarise them with the rich culture and heritage we have."

Speaking of what makes Udaipur tales stand out, Sahil stated, "What usually happens during the festival is that artistes come, perform and leave. Whereas at Udaipur tales, performers like us get ample time to interact with the audience, take feedback from them and discuss our art over a cup of tea. Another interesting thing about this festival is, it allows everybody - from school students to renowned artists – to come together and showcase their talent."

Kabuki, on the other hand, feels that the event is an enriching experience for artistes like her. "It's a space where even the artistes get to witness different art forms, meet people from across the globe and recognise and acknowledge diverse perspectives. It's a great learning experience"

Other than this, Piyush Mishra's talk on living life without worries was enlightening on day 2. He also threw light on working hard and never losing hope. "As an artiste, you should have full authority over your work and be confident about whatever you do. Success is not achieved overnight and therefore you have to be patient," he mentioned.

On day 3, South African storyteller Bongiswa Kotta Ramushwana, South Korean artiste Chamseul Kim, actor and storyteller Vicky Ahuja, Author Sudeep Sen were few of the many names that kept the audience glued to the venue.

Mukt the Band, which composes original music around literary works, gave a soul-stirring performance before the curtains fell on day 3.

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