The phrase “serendipity” retains propping up within the dialog with dastango and writer Himanshu Bajpai — be it on the subject of his latest cameo as a dastango in Sacred Video games season two or the third reprint of his guide Qissa Qissa Lucknowaa. “Varun Grover, the writer of the show, has been a friend of mine since long. He knows what I do and is familiar with my work,” says Bajpai, 32, who’s seen entertaining the underworld don Ustad Isa and terror linchpin Shahid Khan within the sequence.
“Jo aam main hai wo lab e sheerin main nahin ras, Reshon main hain jo shaekh ki dhadi se muqaddas. Aate hain nazar aam to jate hain badan kas, langde bhi chale jate hain khane ko Banaras,” recites Bajpai, sporting the standard white angrakha and topi that’s de rigueur for dastangoi. “The dastan that I am narrating is from the poem Aamo ka Sehra, penned by famous Lucknawi poet Saghar Khayyami. I have performed it several times,” he provides.
Whereas he feels the cameo will assist create consciousness in regards to the artwork kind, Lucknow-based Bajpai recollects how he began coaching in dastangoi beneath Mahmood Farooqui in 2013, on the behest of his buddy and late dastango Ankit Chadda. “I don’t have the requisite inborn talent to be a dastango, which Ankit did. I have acquired the skill, which I learnt, and am still learning,” says he.
The artiste is worked up in regards to the third reprint of Qissa Qissa Lucknowaa, which is a compilation of well-known anecdotes, tales and fables that pertain to his native Lucknow. “The book was first published in late January this year. These are the stories that I have grown up with. I belong to the Chowk area and have always been fascinated by these qissas and kahaanis,” says the author. Comprising qissas on paan, bhaands and kathak dancers, amongst others, the guide is distinct from the opposite quite a few writings on town. The main focus, says Bajpai, is on the awaam and never the nawab — even the tagline of the guide is ‘Lucknow ke Awami kisse’. “There has been a tradition of the ‘nawabi’ aspect dominating the narrative around the city. I have included stories on the people. For instance, today bhaand is often seen as a contemptuous word, bordering on abuse, but they were the people who questioned authority. They were important practitioners of social satire,” says Bajpai, who additionally holds a PhD on the Awadh Akhbaar, a Urdu newspaper printed by the Naval Kishore of Press in Lucknow.
Printed in Hindi, the guide leans in direction of classical Urdu and makes use of some English phrases as nicely. “There has been criticism that the book has ‘bhaari-bharkam’ words from Urdu and Hindi. It is written as if someone is reciting the tale. We have included a dictionary of sorts in the coming edition, but I also feel, that if someone makes an effort to look up a difficult word, he/she will remember it forever,” he provides.
It was the present socio-political and cultural state of affairs that nudged Bajpai to jot down the guide, mixed with worry of dropping this wealthy oral historical past to posterity. “We are letting go of the composite culture that once thrived in this city. I have seen the communalising of Lucknow and the country. I wanted to highlight the culture we come from. I have included the tale of Hindus honouring the sacrifice of Hussain during Moharram, which is a tradition of Lucknow” asserts Bajpai, who has additionally labored as journalist. “The experts, oral historians of the city, are aging and we need a younger custodian,” says Bajpai.