Bringing mythology to the millennials

Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 09:38 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

That's the motto of the city's first international storytelling festival featuring diverse tellers that kicks off today

Mumbai Storytellers Society aims to promote the oral tradition of sorytelling
Mumbai Storytellers Society aims to promote the oral tradition of sorytelling

In early 2019, award-winning storyteller and puppeteer Usha Venkatraman founded the Mumbai Storytellers Society for a group of tellers who wanted to revive the ancient oral tradition of storytelling in the community. It's also when she started thinking about a festival that would put the city on the global map — Mumbai International Storytelling Festival. Today, the event will finally take shape at multiple venues, before travelling to Panchgani over the weekend.

The line-up of tellers at the three-day event includes scholar and author Arshia Sattar, Kaavad Katha performer Akshay Gandhi, Sheila Wee, referred to as the godmother of storytelling in Singapore, fusion dance proponent Rubena Sinha from Canada and award-winning teller from the UK, Stella Kassimati. But it is the theme of the fest that is truly significant today. "In an era of identity politics, it was time to look for common grounds and understand what it might convey to us about our commonality as human beings... Storytelling brings us together and helps build cross-cultural connections. Through stories, we bridge the gap between 'us' and 'them'," Venkatraman says.

Usha Venkatraman, Akshay Gandhi and Sheila WeeUsha Venkatraman, Akshay Gandhi and Sheila Wee

The sessions will also take you on a trip around the world. So, while Kassimati will tell stories of Greek heroes Hermès, Prometheus and Adonis, Wee will talk about the Monkey king — the Chinese version — and legends from Singapore such as Yu Gong Yi Shan, the old man who moved mountains. Keertan artist Rajashree Tope, on the other hand, will bring alive the legend of Tanhaji Malusare. Expect stories of Bhasmasur from Venkatraman, too. As she concludes, "The tales of our past give our present lives meaning. If you are not clear where you are going, at least know where you are coming from!"

On January 13, 6 pm to 8 pm; January 14, 6 pm to 8 pm; January 15, 5.30 pm to 7 pm
At Title Waves, Bandra West (Today); Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Breach Candy (Tuesday); JBCN International School, Borivali West (Wednesday).
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Cost Rs 250 onwards

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