GlobalFashionStreet bring you an exclusive chat with a man who has a story for you and for everyone.
He is the snow white and he is the wolf, sometimes he is also the pied piper and at times the granny. At all other times he is Kamal Pruthi; Meet the story teller who weaves magic with his words for everyone.
When he hits the stage with his team, people are wide-eyed and kids giggle with butterflies in their stomach. It’s the excitement of listening to a new story and his audiences wait for him to tell tales of old characters in new form or new characters in old stories! Either ways they all have fun. So what is it that goes behind the mind of a storyteller, let’s catch him off guard…
Which was your first story? (From the childhood that you still recall the way it was told)
‘Sone ke ande dene wali murgi’. I have never performed this story but I firmly believe in it. I may perform it, or may not! I have often drawn parallels of this story with my real life incidents. I don’t even remember who told me this story and in which class did I hear this story in my childhood, or if I heard or read this story that is not so relevant, because this story is so powerful that it has stayed with me as an integral part of my value system since then.
(His group is called the Kabuliwala, it’s a storytelling company that engages not just the kids but also, people of every age group including corporate leadership and management programs. And Kabuliwala even opens up his jhola full of engaging tales to help in finding concrete grounds for conflict resolution within the organization through Kabuliwala tales and trainings.)
Kabuliwala offers engaging storytelling performances, Storytelling workshops “Suno Kahani Buno Kahani” for children, teachers and parents, creative writing workshops “Kagaz Kalam” for adults and “the flying pencil” for the children. “Garma Garam Chai” is a forum of art and literature lovers in which original stories of participants and celebrated writers are read and discussed over Chai.
So, what makes a great story?
Story selection and performance! There’s no one answer to this question. How you perform a story is what makes it great. A good performer who has enough trust in himself can convert a poor story into a powerful one. A poor performer can on the contrary has tremendous power to ruin an interesting story.
Which was the first story that you presented as Kabuliwala?
Aaina was the first children’s story which I told as a storyteller. I don’t really reveal the names of the stories till the last moment. Not even to the media. Stories must come as a surprise to the listeners when they see the live performances. It is not like watching a play in an auditorium that many a times you get a brochure of the play with its synopsis and you read it in the foyer of the auditorium while waiting for the play to start.In Story based performances it is different; it is the audience who makes us decide which story to perform. Our kitty is full of tales and I decide on the spot what to perform. So, you need to quickly ascertain who is your audience, what is their background, their upbringing, their language and what will really click to them, what they will like to listen.
The world of stories is full of surprises, when did you get feel surprised during your storytelling experiences?
How the audiences react to a particular story is full of surprises. Even if I’m repeating the same story for a different audience for the 50th time, what matters is how today’s audience will react to it, and what kind of questions will they raise, what kind of vocabulary will they come with, what is in it for me in that particular performance cum interaction with the audience is full of surprises. In my yesterday’s performance, I repeated a particular story for the 25th time, and I myself learnt some 3 new phrases which the kids gave me during the engagement. As a storyteller you can’t plant everything, and that element of novelty in reactions is what makes it beautiful for the storyteller as well as for the audiences. I very often feel surprised by the kind of reactions of the kids and the questions they ask while listening to the stories.
When you see a storybook what are your first thoughts?
I must tell you a fact. 90% of the existing content what gets published is boring and uninteresting. And that’s why I look at any book with very less hopes. That’s also the reason why kids read less these days. Often I’m invited as chief guest or judge in schools, and requested to give motivating speeches to encourage the kids with the benefits of reading. If you offer anybody bad or stale food, who would eat it?
My first thought after seeing a story book is, if the language of the stories would be appealing and interesting enough for me and my audiences or not?
How will I be able to cater these stories to my audiences? Will I get even one extremely powerful story from this storybook or not? One powerful story once selected reaches masses. Will that one story be liked by 100’s of kids and adults if I were to perform it in my way?
Okay, then who is there with you in the Kabuliwala team?
I’m sitting with my 11 year old nephew Utkarsh Pruthi at this moment and responding to these questions. He is part of the Kabuliwala’s children repertory of five children who decide and create interesting content for other kids. If they like something, the other kids will like it too, they insist. They are from 9 to 15 years. The 15 year old Rohit Gupta plays percussion at times when I perform. They help out with dramaturgy, that is decision making with the texts, and also write song lyrics.
In the Kabuliwala team, there are international collaborators from Afghanistan and Germany. Syed Abdul Rahim, Hamid Hemat, Edris Fakhri, Michael F Stoerzer and Christina Schulz.
Indian team of Kabuliwala consists of Storytellers Prachi Kalra, content writers Abdullah Ozair, Shwetank, musician Vaibhav, Costume Designers Pooja Bhandari and Ruby Ozair, few interns and a lot of aspiring practitioners keep coming and learning the art of storytelling.
If you could dedicate a story to your life which one would it be?
Oh that’s a BIG question. I’m just 33 and SINGLE! Kabuliwali is yet to come in Kabuliwala’s life. I think my life has not even started yet!
Put a famous story character for these
Your Boss-Poin Bail (ox)
Your work colleague-Geedadh, kukdookoo gadha
Your mom-Mullah Nasruddin
Your dad-Chacha jaan