Source : The Hindu
Udaipur Tales is an international storytelling festival that brings together storytellers and performers from all over the world
Once upon a time — these are four familiar words that are filled with promise, leading into a world of fantasy and lore. We once settled in by the sides of our grandparents, or perhaps an indulgent aunt or uncle, to hear many a fantastic tale. It is increasingly rare to hear stories being told in a time of packed schedules and technology-fuelled lives.
Now, narratives are usually communicated to us visually through a video, or a pithy post, or an electronic book, with the lighting and glare adjusted for an optimal reading experience. They are all great media for storytelling, but a good story can be completely transformed by a compelling storyteller. Voice, tone, expression, rhythm and gestures make for a captivating experience.
A charming festival seeks to celebrate this oral tradition of storytelling, bringing together artists from around the world to revel in this intangible heritage. “Our generation today is missing the charm and innocence that these stories carry within them. Technology has taken over widely. An art which is slowly getting lost, has every reason to be revived,” says Salil Bhandari, co-founder of Udaipur Tales — An international storytelling festival.
With the poetic backdrop of the city’s lakes and palaces, Udaipur Tales will bring together artistes with strong storytelling traditions from India and around the world.
They will showcase various narrative styles, including dastangoi, the Urdu oral storytelling form that stems from the 13th Century; shamanic storytelling; folk ensembles and more. The inaugural edition of the festival saw Fouzia Dastango, reportedly the first female dastango in the country; Russian folklore artistes; and modern upholder of the shaman oral tradition, Salil Mukhia Koitsu.
Now in its second edition, it will showcase a variety of genres — history, romance, mystery, folklore and an exclusive children’s segment. Musicians and dancers will feature prominently, showcasing folk art performances and fusion musical pieces.
“Every time a story is told, a new, intimate experience leading to magical imagination gets unrolled. This is the whole essence and the sole reason for the existence of Udaipur Tales,” says Sushmita Singha, founder of the festival.
Across four stages, storytellers will create fantastic worlds in Hindi, Urdu and English. Renowned theatre personalities and actors like Vipin Sharma, Salil Mukhia Koitsu (shaman storyteller), Dee (Durgah Devi) Palanisamy (innovative performer), Shantanu Guha Ray (award-winning journalist), Anant Dayal (contemporary storyteller), and Jeeva Raghunath (children’s storyteller and author) will feature at the festival alongside several other artistes.
This year, the festival is expected to receive at least 2,000 children and between 1,500 to 2,000 adults on each day. Storytellers from London and Singapore to Jharkhand will entertain and inform the audience. Visitors can expect to spend the day listening to different tales — fact, fiction, some spoken, some sung — besides evenings of musical performances. There will also be an array of exhibitions and food and beverage to enjoy across the festival.
As the winter sets in over Udaipur, tales from then and now, of mystery and magic, good and evil, beauty and hatred, will not just aim to revive the oral narrative tradition, but also help the audience immerse themselves in the power of stories.
As Singha says, “Udaipur Tales brings back storytelling, touching our hearts and releasing powerful emotions. Stories that restore our humaneness.”