Gurgaon Utsav: Farooqui captivates crowd

Gurgaon: For the city’s festival of performing arts, a break from tradition. While the has hosted a one-off performance in April, this was the latest the spring edition had visited the city.
Still, it remained the talk of the town (even with an excellent celebration of Hindustani Classical being hosted not too far away, over the same weekend). It’s the magic of the venue that keeps bringing the crowds back. But mostly, it’s the quality of the performers, a credit to the curating talents of the festival’s organisers. This year, it all began with , who proved that he has few peers when it comes to the art of dastangoi, in a mesmerising narration of the story of .

Ordinarily, we like our heroes flawed, of many shades, and Karna is one such, a character that speaks to our times, one who stubbornly refuses to be overwhelmed by life’s tribulations. Farooqui gave voice and emotion to each character, minor and major, but was superb in fleshing out Karna, bringing him alive in all his heroism.

Farooqui Sahib, too, has faced the darkness, one reason why he could get under Karna’s skin so credibly. Of course, this wasn’t just about the dastango’s acting skills, as good as they were; it was about Farooqui’s ability, befitting of a masterful storyteller, to paint pictures through words, and to do so in five tongues (Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian), achieving a beautiful fluency that a linguist would be proud of. The acclaim at the end was well earned, full of admiration and warmth.

On the middle evening, Prahlad Tipanya, as traditional as any folk artiste, drew upon years of experience, and Kabir’s all-embracing vision, to reach the hearts of all. The wonderful thing is that Tipanya never received any formal vocal training. But, as he said, the humbleness and sweep of Kabir’s message, and his candour of expression, makes the poet-mystic a laureate of the common people, and Tipanya’s engaging on-stage manner, lived-in voice and fidelity to purity of form makes him the ideal companion on a journey into Kabir’s soul.

The sisters Nooran were a mixed bag. They turned up late (with no word of apology) and tore into a medley of Sufi compositions as if to make up to a restless audience (more than full house, at the amphitheatre in the Aravali Biodiversity Park), a medley that had a crazed redemption about it. Alas, the rest of the evening, while bursting with a whirling-dervish energy and interludes of lustily-sung poetry, had little to recommend it.

Of the siblings, Jyoti was the livewire, almost carrying the show on her shoulders, Sultana merely a supporting act. Yet, like a rainstorm that brings respite to a parched land but overstays its welcome, the sisters relied overmuch on force of personality, and less on ‘rooh’. But the audience had certainly had its fill.

The Gurgaon Utsav was presented by the Arts and Literature Foundation in partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon and the Department of Art and Cultural Affairs, Haryana.

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