Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Storyteller In Us

Deep within each and everyone of us lies a storyteller. Keen, curious and imaginative. The role of stories in our life seem so insignificant, but when you look a little deeper you realise that we are a part of innumerable stories everyday. Some stories that we hear stay with us and eventually become a part of who we are.



There are bedtime stories, incidental stories, old folk tales, stories that trace the origin of recipes, movie stories, drunk stories, ghost stories from sleep overs and so many more to add to these. What is it about these stories that builds an instant connection between us and the subject?

Menu art- Farzi Cafe, Gurgaon

Growing up, my dad told me stories of the time he spent on a sugarcane farm with his uncle. These stories would thrill little me as I reimagined every moment in my head adding my own twists to it. I felt little shivers when I imagined cold rainy nights at the farm when my dad cuddled with his pet dog to keep him safe and warm. This was one of the classics that I asked my dad to repeat over and over again. I think it's these stories that nurtured the inexplicable love I feel for dogs.

Artists have a blessed opportunity to immerse themselves into someone else's story. We listen to a story, digest the story and then become the story itself. Painters bring stories to life with imagery from their own imagination. 

Illustrations by 4 different artists derived from the same love stories of Radha and Krishna
A few centuries back, Kathak dancers enacted tales and stories of gods and brave kings to village crowds. The word 'kathak' means storyteller and is derived from the word 'Katha' which means story. But unlike theatre, a dancer plays all the characters in a story. She brings out actions and reactions of multiple characters and paints a beautiful tapestry for the audience.




Everytime I play a character through dance, my guru repeatedly reminds me that I am every character but none of the characters are me. Telling a story as is, without any influences of personal experience, is what makes 'Abhinaya' (enactment) so challenging.

Storytelling has so many forms, but in every form it brings out the same child like innocence in all of us. Eager and inquisitive to get to know the end.

My sister in law, Mohavi wrote and illustrated a children's story recently. The main protagonist of her story, Lakshmi is a child full of character and spunk. Everyday Mohavi imagined how Lakshmi looked, spoke, sat, thought and felt. As Lakshmi evolved through the story, she became a part of our household. At lunch and dinner, every one of us added a new element to Lakshmi's character as we got to know her better. 

Creations and Evolution of Lakshmi

What touches my heart about storytelling is the fact that someday, somewhere a child is going to read this story and connect with Mohavi's imagination and add a little more reality to it.


An idea swims through our minds and drowns itself in our emotions before a beautiful story is born. The power of these stories are evident to us only when we think of how many years and lives they have survived before we decide to re tell the same tale to our kids.