Over the years, Lucknow has seen artistes who’ve risen, made a name out of their talents at places and they haven't been back since. Then there are those who’ve tasted catholic glories, travelled to faraway lands on the credits of their talents but have always returned to their roots.
One such performer is Himanshu Bajpai, who has stemmed from the snaking bylanes of Chowk and has reached the zeniths of appreciation ofttimes with his dastangoi, all over India and beyond.
But what is ‘Dastangoi’?
Dastangoi is the art of Urdu story-telling which originated in the 13th century and was prevalent in the Lucknow-Delhi region but after a few centuries, it had faded away. Dastangoi would have been a forgotten art-form unless for the efforts of the prominent Urdu poet and critic Shamsur Rahman Farooqi, his nephew, writer and director Mahmood Farooqui.
The modern dastangos (story-tellers) have made dastangoi a medium through which they can raise awareness about important societal issues and through these, they also reiterate stories of the past. Dastans are just verbal adventures which can take your focus from djinns to princes of faraway lands but mostly it focuses on razm and bazm.
Dastan of the Dastango!
A journalist by profession, Himanshu has been associated with organizations like Akashvani, Dainik Bhaskar, and Tehelka in the past. Bajpai is a store-house of the rich cultural history of Lucknow and his immense knowledge in Urdu and Hindi poetry and Awadhi literature is simply unmatched.
Himanshu commenced his journey to become a dastango back in 2013 with the help of his beloved friend, the late Ankit Chadha, who was also one of the most celebrated dastangos in India. Furthermore, Bajpai’s aziz friend, Varun Grover has also helped him to realize his passion for the art form.
Highly inspired by Amritlal Nagar, Yogesh Praveen and his late beloved friend, Ankit, Himanshu has become one of Lucknow’s ambassadors in his own terms. According to Bajpai, even Gandhi’s ideals and principles have ignited an ardour in him and fashioned his notions and perspectives, notably.
‘Qissa Qissa’ ki Kahaani
From a cameo role in Sacred Games 2 to the third reprint of his book ‘Qissa Qissa Lucknowaa’, Himanshu Bajpai has become the shaan aur maan of Lucknow.
Qissa Qissa Lucknowaa has drawn its inspirations from the current socio-political and cultural scenario of the country and it was penned on a priority basis too. Bajpai had specks of trepidation, that the world might lose out on this oral art-form so the future generations should be aware of its eminence. This book also talks about a secular Lucknow; tales of the past and how there was unity in diversity previously, on the lines of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.
With over 50 dastongois to his credits, Himanshu has been earnestly promoting the culture of Lucknow and his fidelity towards this craft, is simply commendable.
Himanshu has always directed his craftsmanship towards all sectors of people, to inculcate a sense of this art around him and truly, it for the people and of the people.