Daastangoi by Fawad Khan: Revival of Story-telling
After a failed attempt at catching a glimpse of Fawad Khan at Biennale 2018, I was excited to hear that the OLO Junction was arranging another daastangoi session to succeed the first. After an hour of scramming through traffic, my colleague and I reached OLO and what unfolded in front of us was something I had only imagined.[divider]C+G’s Take[/divider]
Olompolo has really been stepping up its performing arts game. Fawad Khan is an eloquent beast when it comes to daastangoi. Our writer found the event worth battling traffic for.[divider]experience[/divider]
To just call Fawad eloquent, theatrical and well-read would not be fitting. His tactics of moving audiences with his words, his ability to be a questioner and questioned, and above all, to deliver dialogues like a traditional woman from pre-partition area kept the audience fixated. He made complicated dialogues easy on the ears, and received various waahs from a mixed crowd of men and women, young and old.
The place was brightly lit for one of finest performances I have ever had the pleasure of attending. He started the daastangoi, particularly each dastaan with a brief introduction. It was like watching a movie, except in front of us was only a tall slender man, dressed in white kurta pajama with a tikoni topi. In his brief breaks, he was an urban Pakistani; during his performances he was Umro Ayyar, a recent Pakistani, and a retired old government officer.
His dastaans were breathtaking. They spoke of a time when mandirs and pandits existed alongside mosques and qari sahibs, where dogs were named after remnants of the British Raj, when the language was so diverse and multicultural it presented a different idea in every sentence. It’s one thing to read, it’s another to perform the same words – and Fawad does justice to both notions. My colleague and I barely said anything to each other while we watched in utter surprise. A man encapsulating oh so many stories unfolded. Our thoughts, actions and pens were all occupied, trying to keep up with the performance. It’s so strange: we all carry so many stories within us. Very few times do we come across people who possess the skill of eloquent performances of thickly-worded texts.
From within the waahs and maneuvering from one landscape to the next, Fawad had planned his performance fairly well. He started with a one of those tales of mischief, we’ve all heard – this time it was Fawad the exuberant, the performer of words, the enchanter who could put character behind the words. He spoke of kings and their darbaars, they were as luxurious and grand as we’ve all heard of them to be. As the daastangoi session drew to a close, his last dastaan was on man’s relationship with people and animals, specifically a dog named Caesar. The story ended on an emotional note, and it felt like the audiences had lost a beloved Caesar too (sorry for the spoiler). By the end of each tale, the characters had become a part of everyone’s imagination; and by the time it ended, we all felt like parts of us was fading away.
Theater in every form is an experience through words and different characters. What’s more trivial and exciting about this dastaangoi was the fact that Fawad, in only one performance had stirred an interest amongst people for the art of storytelling. While it can be argued that the label of storytelling is boiling down the magnificence that is Fawad Khan’s dastaangoi, in its purest form, this is what he strives for and rightly accomplished at a night at OLO Junction.