Khusrau on a Zoom call

Updated: 11 June, 2020 10:59 IST | Sukanya Datta | Mumbai

A virtual musical dastangoi will take you on a journey through the Sufi mystic's life

Ajitesh Gupta and Mohit Agarwal will present the show from their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai respectively
Ajitesh Gupta and Mohit Agarwal will present the show from their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai respectively

We didn't choose Amir Khusrau; he chose us. As we hail from an arts and music background, he fit right into our lives," says actor and playwright Ajitesh Gupta, while explaining how he and theatre practitioner Mohit Agarwal stumbled upon the works of the 13th century Sufi saint in 2018. Born out of their extensive research, which included visiting the shrine of Khusrau's mentor Nizamuddin Auliya, was their first dastangoi, Jo dooba so par — based on the poet's couplet — in 2019.

"We did numerous shows. When the lockdown started, I moved from Mumbai to my hometown in Uttar Pradesh. Mohit and I were itching to do something creative, which is when actor and director Shivani Tanksale approached us. She had loved the dastangoi, and suggested that we adapt it to an online format," Gupta shares. The result of this collaboration is Qissagoi-Kahaniya Khusrau Ki, "a musical dastangoi" that Gupta and Agarwal will present this weekend.

Shivani Tanksale
Shivani Tanksale

Jo dooba so par was a grand, 12-member performance, says Gupta, and the challenge lay in condensing it into a Zoom show, while keeping Khusrau's essence alive. "We took the main qissas from the dastan, keeping Khusrau's poetry at the forefront. We weaved the narrative in a way that Khusrau's life — from his birth to him meeting his mentor — and the advent of Sufism come alive. This involved a mix of history as well as our interpretation of his works and life events," Gupta tells us, adding that both actors have been practising over video calls for over a month. "Agarwal has been playing the harmonium, and I have been singing,"
he shares.

Gupta's real apprehension, however, lies in engagement. "Apart from technical issues, my concern is that since we can't see the audience on a Zoom call, we'll not be able to feed off that energy. Also, unlike in a theatre, here, the audience can get distracted by numerous things around them," he elaborates. "However, like Khusrau's poetry, we have tried to keep our performance simple, as the best thing about storytelling is that it relies only on the power of words. And we plan to put all our faith in our work and dive in," he concludes.

On June 13 and 14
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Cost Rs 250

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First Published: 11 June, 2020 09:28 IST

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