Saturday February 16, 2019

On his trail to preserve a long lost treasure trove: storytelling

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Picture credit: geneix.com

By Bhavana Akella

Scrolling through the anals of past, one might have run into the era of story tellers. However, with the advent of technology and the kindle era beleguring the long lost tradition of storytelling, we in this century has almost been bereved of those snippets wherein a bunch of garrulous children were found stupified at the gimmicks of a story teller reciting a story.

Picture credit: artinaction.org.uk
Picture credit: artinaction.org.uk

In a bid to bring back the art of storytelling, renowned theatre artist Kamal Pruthi unravels his attempt at reving the art. “A storytelling movement (of the kind he has started) was necessary to fight the advent of technology, which has been dumbing the children down,” says the pagdi clad theatre artist.

Leaving the world of IT, Pruthi has devoted his life to the art of storytelling.He is also arguably one of the few storytellers who perform in German, Hindi and Urdu and has been bringing back the culture of storytelling in many households and schools across the country.

Donning green kurta-pajama with a pagdi (turban), this 33-year old ‘Kabuliwala’ is a favourite amongst children across the country every time they see him with his vibrant jhola (cloth bag), which they know is full of stories.

“With mobile phones and other devices taking over, dadajis and nanajis (grandparents) don’t get to tell stories to their grandchildren anymore. A family getting together over stories seems like in a long-gone era,” Pruthi told IANS.

The monkey shows and the acrobats who performed while telling their tales were experiential mediums that have almost become redundant now, he said, adding that children of the present generation have not heard as many stories as their parents would have. The hunger for knowledge can only be satiated through stories, he reiterated.

“I’m a modern day madaari (conjurer). My job is to intellectually entertain the humble souls of kids – many of whom have never heard stories before,” Pruthi said.

“Kids of this generation are energetic and need something to keep them engaged. The 90-year-old Santa Claus who entertains them comes only once a year, but kids know Kabuliwala is always there,” he added.

Being a professional theatre artist for over a decade now, he believes the medium is not experiential enough for the audience, and thus he had to take a step ahead through his storytelling.

There have been some challenges, though.

Retelling the story of Sadat Hasan Manto’s “Toba Tek Singh”, in which after partition in 1947, a man has to decide whether India or Pakistan is his home, Pruthi recalled the challenge he had faced while representing 18 characters in the story.

“The real challenge is when a storyteller has to perform so many characters and tell their stories,” he said.

“A story can be called a strong one only when it can travel,” Pruthi explained, adding: “Not all actors can be storytellers, and also not all storytellers can be good actors. Unlike a theatre show which requires investment, storytelling can be quite economical and can be done on a terrace, a garden, or even below the staircase.”

(IANS)

Next Story

The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

aircrat
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)