Lucknow's 'dastango', Himanshu Bajpai, to represent India in an event at Harvard University

Bajpai is truly the shaan aur maan of Lucknow.

Himanshu Bajpai is a dastango (storyteller) from Lucknow, who has stemmed from the snaking bylanes of Chowk and has reached the zeniths of appreciation with his dastangoi, all over India and beyond. Now Bajpai is all set to represent India at a special event being organised by the Harvard University on the 8th of October.


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 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.

A recipient of the President's Award

Himanshu Bajpai, 33, will participate in a one-and-a-half-hour long session, titled, 'Khusrau's River of Love: Cosmopolitanism and Inclusion in South Asian Traditions'. This programme will showcase a melody of words and music, over a session of dastangoi by Bajpai and a rendition of Khusrau's poetic works, by Ali Sethi, who is an international artist of Pakistani origin. The performances will be interspersed with analysis and commentary by Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Murray A. Albertson and Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures at Harvard University, Ali Asani.

"Prof Asani will also moderate a live interactive session with us where we will take questions from the audience across the world. It is an honour to be a part of this unique event which will be viewed across the globe. Our segment will definitely bring forth the vibrancy of South Asian syncretism", Himanshu was quoted saying.

Bajpai is also a recipient of the President's Award, which he bagged in February 2020 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. He has a number of national and international events to his credit, including the ones in Dubai and Turkey. This dastango, is also a journalist and a published author.

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