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Adventures of Amir Hamza and Partition Tales: A Dastangoi performance by Mahmood Farooqui in Berkeley

Performing Arts - Other | November 3 | 3-5 p.m. | 125 Morrison Hall

Mahmood Farooqui

Institute for South Asia Studies, The Berkeley Urdu Initiative, Townsend Center for the Humanities, Department of Music

A dastangoi- story telling in Urdu - performance by the inimitable Mahmood Farooqui. The dastans (stories) that will be narrated are:

A tale from the Adventures of Amir Hamza: Amar Aiyyar and Mehtab, the Sorcerer
Amar Aiyyaar is Amir Hamza’s chief lieutenant and the leader of Aiyyars. Aiyyaars are tricksters, adept at disguise who work as spies and trap powerful magicians. Amar is at war against Afrasiab, the Emperor of sorcerers. Afrasiab appoints Mahtab Jadu, a powerful chieftain to arrest Amar and his disciples. Mahtab magically erects a palace in the jungle to entice Amar. Then, recalling that Aiyyars can use any disguise he creates magical talking birds who can tell Aiyyaars through their disguise. Amar discovers the secret of the birds and sends his deputy Barq Firangi who is made up as Amar himself. Mahtab is delighted to arrest Amar so easily. Amar then dresses himself up as a newly bereaved bride and mounts an elaborate wailing charade outside Mahtab’s palace. Predictably enough Mahtab is smitten. What follows is a hilarious courting game in which Amar, dressed as a woman, drives Mahtab to his wits’ end and ultimately to his death. Aiyyar escape again. Another sorcerer or Sahir is killed, Afrasiab must depute someone else. (Watch out for the Shringar Rasa poetry as Amar dresses himself up as a woman.)

Selections from the Partition Dastan
A dastanic take on the traumas and absurdities of the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.

This event is part of a week long festival on Dasntangoi in Berkeley. For details about other events in the line up please click A FESTIVAL OF DASTANGOI

About Dastangoi
Dastangoi is the once thriving art of Urdu storytelling in North India which came to an abrupt end with the death of the last great practitioner in 1928. Mahmood Farooqui's perfomance of this lost art will be based on the pioneering work S. R. Faruqi, this great Urdu scholar and practitioner of this art. This is a rare opportunity to experience this unique art form, and participate in its revival --which has been underway since 2005. For more information on this art form see: Dastangoi Blogspot

About the Artist
Mahmood Farooqui of New Delhi, India is a dynamic figure whose range of interests and activities make it difficult to categorize him: he is at once a historian, a theatre persona, a filmmaker, and a critic. He might best be characterized as a cultural critic, and he is one with impressive scholarly credentials. His academic training includes degrees from St. Stephens College, Delhi University, Oxford University (as a Rhodes Scholar), and Cambridge University. His scholarly publications include his recently published book of translations (from Persian and Urdu) of documents that provide keen insights into the everyday experience of the Rebellion of 1857-58 in Delhi, Besieged: Voices from Delhi, 1857 (New Delhi: Penguin/Viking, 2010).

Farooqui’s scholarly work notwithstanding, he is perhaps best known in India for his film Peepli Live (2010), which he co-directed, a scathing critique of post-liberalization media culture and politics in India.

In addition to these impressive accomplishments, Farooqui is also credited with almost single-handedly reviving a traditional performance art of story-telling, dastangoi. He has published on this subject, and received awards for his cultural work in this arena. His engagement with dastangoi is more than scholarly, however. Farooqui is a performance artist who is reviving this art form through his own practice. His performances have been critically acclaimed.

Mr. Farooqui will be a Scholar-in-Residence at the Center this coming Fall.

These events are sponsored by the Berkeley Urdu Initiative.

This is a unique opportunity to see a traditional art form in a modern guise. As always, all of our events are free and open to the public; we very much hope to see you there!

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Please note that parking in not always easily available in Berkeley. Take public transportation if possible or arrive early to secure your spot.

Open only to UC Berkeley Faculty, Staff and Students. Registration opens October 15. Register by November 3 online.