Move Over Fantasy Tales, This Digital Dastaangoi Is About Consent

Qissa-e-Consent: Introducing Dastaangoi to the digital world, to tell the tales of our times.

2 min read

(This story was first published on 26 October 2017. It has been reposted from The Quint’s archives on the occasion of World Poetry Day)


Everybody loves a good story. No wonder, then, that Dastaangoi, a 13th century art of storytelling, has seen a revival at the hands of Urdu enthusiasts. Like all medieval romances, the traditional dastaans were tales of a hero’s travails often meandering through magical worlds. In India, one of the most popular dastaans used to be that of the life of Amir Hamza, an uncle of Prophet Mohammad. Aided by the encouragement and patronage of Mughal rulers, the art of dastaangoi had become quite popular in most parts of Northern India by the middle of the 19th century.

Mirza Ghalib and other noted literary personalities of the time in Delhi were known to be fond of dastaangoi performances. The performers were skilled in oratory, mime, and even dance: necessary skills to hold the public’s attention. Post the 1857 mutiny, the centre shifted to Lucknow and dastaans began to exert influence over Urdu prose. The twentieth century, however, saw a decline in the popularity of the art though cinema adapted vignettes from it.

The Quint brings this unique art of storytelling to the digital world through its initiative ‘Digital Dastaangoi’. Stepping out of the comfort zone of quaint palaces and fairies, Digital Dastaangoi employs the form to tell the tales of here and now.

The opening edition is about consent and its many colours. In the wake of growing violence against women and incommensurate silence around it, Qissa-E-Consent lays bare the rules of saying NO through the tale of Chhota Qazi and Bada Qazi.

As the dastaango instructs,

“Say it non-stop like a Kirtan.

Say it out loud like the Azaan.

Say it to advertise.

Say it to the fool and the wise.”

Lest it be misconstrued as a yes.

Video Producer: Divyani Rattanpal

Cameraperson: Athar Rather
Camera Assistant: Shiv Kumar
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra

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