“Stories and storytelling are not dying art forms, they are becoming more and more relevant”: Imtiaz Ali

“Storytelling is an opportunity for me to share my tradition and culture with others and help remind people that we are much more connected than this world makes us feel,” said Alim Kamara, one of the storytellers who starred in all three days. by Kathakar 2022, an international storytelling festival celebrating India’s rich oral storytelling tradition.

Director Imtiaz Ali and one of the patrons of the festival, playback singer Mohit Chauhan, were present on the third day of the festival. In a feature Kissey, our Kahani Mausiki along with Prarthana Gahilote, the two artists shared how stories have inspired their lives, encouraging audiences to explore stories from India’s rich past.

“I grew up in the hills where life was quieter, slower; where there were many stories to be told and heard. This is what brings me to storytelling,” Chauhan told indianexpress.com.

In today’s digital age, when swipes and fast-forwards dominate a major part of our lives, Ali emphasized the relevance of stories and the art of storytelling. “Every article we follow on social media and the things we follow are called ‘stories’. Stories and storytelling are not dying art forms, they are becoming more and more relevant as people now engage with stories in every possible format. They find vehicles beyond what was previously expected,” he told the station, adding that “this celebration of stories and storytelling brings me back to Kathakar”.

The first three days of the festival featured performances by storytellers from around the world: Niall Moorjani (United Kingdom), Lilian Rodrigues Pang (Australia), Baatarjav Erdenetsogt (Mongolia), Alim Kamara (Sierra Leone), Sarah Rundle (United Kingdom), Seung Ah Kim (South Korea) and Yossi Alfi (Israel), apart from Indian artists like Sikandar Khan and Shaguna Gahilote.

Storyteller Alim Kamara captivated the audience with his performance on the third day of Kathakar 2022. (Photo: Team Kathakar)

“I manage to challenge myths through storytelling. Preconceived notions of who is black, white or brown, and what places like India, Sierra Leone or London are, are shattered as I share and hear stories from around the world,” said Kamara, who is from Sierra Leone. a West African country.

Another storyteller who performed on the second and third days of the festival, Seung Ah Kim from South Korea, revealed that she became part of the storyteller community when she moved from her country to Toronto. Highlighting the lack of opportunities for women to express themselves in South Korea, she said, “I decided to spread the freedom I experienced in Toronto and started expressing myself through stories.”

Emphasizing the relevance of folktales today, Kim added: “Folktales are about human beings, they are not only about the past, but also about our present as well as our future.”

Festival patrons Sushila Devi Mohit Chauhan and Imtiaz Ali felicitated the storytellers with a memento as a token of appreciation for their contribution to the art of storytelling. (Photo: Team Kathakar)

Shaguna Gahilote, curator of the festival, spoke about the significance of folk tales for the younger generation. “When we started organizing workshops with children about preserving our culture, we realized that the children knew about it Cinderella, Sleeping Beautyand other universal fantasy stories, but they did not know about Indian folk tales,” she told indianexpress.com.

“Ever since 2010, we’ve brought stories from around the world to revive our own tradition of storytelling, inspiring them and being inspired by them.”

Started under the umbrella of the Ghummakkad Narain Travel Literature Festival in 2010, Kathakar is “Asia’s largest and only oral storytelling festival,” Gahilote added. Through the art form, the festival aims to overcome all language and cultural boundaries.

For storyteller Yamini, a resident of New Delhi, storytelling has always been an “escape from my world to others, from my story to theirs, even if it’s for a short time”. “I came here only to see Imtiaz Ali and Mohit Chauhan, but I am fascinated by the stories the artists have shared today,” she said.

A performance on Kabir Vani by Prahlad Singh Tipania and grouo on the third day of the festival. (Photo: Team Kathakar)

A puppet show was also held on the third day of the event Ramayana by Ramachandra Pulavar and his team from Kerala and Kabir Vani by Prahlad Singh Tipania and his group. Patrons of the festival — Sushila Devi, Mohit Chauhan and Imtiaz Ali — felicitated the storytellers with a memento as a token of appreciation for their contribution to storytelling.

The festival was inaugurated by Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju on November 25 and was held at Sunder Nursery. Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, and actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui enthralled the audience with their storytelling on the inauguration day.

The four-day festival is organized in partnership with the Indian Ministry of Culture under the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, a program initiated by the Government of India to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence. November 28 marks the end of the festival, which included a morning session with over 3,000 school children from across the RCN.

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