Remember those visits to grandparents when we were kids? We used to play in the streets and roam around in the neighbourhood like a nomad. But what we used to wait for eagerly were ‘Dadi ki kahaaniyan’, which took us through unseen worlds with tales of love, glory, valour and at times, witches and ghosts. As time passed, we grew older as well as distant from that beautiful experience. But thanks to some new-age storytellers, who are taking storytelling to its zenith, the art survived the test of time.
Though the art continues to thrive, there are very few who have mastered the techniques and the empathy that’s needed to charm others through spoken words. Let’s take a look at some of the finest storytellers of the present era:
1. Neelesh Misra
Born in Uttar Pradesh in 1973, Neelesh Misra started his professional career as a journalist. While pursuing his journalistic career, Neelesh never gave up his passion of writing and narrating stories. His dedication and perseverance led him to the studios of a popular FM station, where he started a show called ‘Yaadon ka Idiot Box’. As fate would have it, Neelesh Misra’s storytelling skills touched the hearts of listeners and he soon became a household name. He went on to write screenplays and song lyrics for some major Bollywood projects, and also bagged a number of awards. His popularity has surged to an unparallel level, for if he just says ‘Kahaniyan sunata hun’ on a stage, the audience responds with never-ending applause.
2. Sudhanshu Rai
This new-age storyteller is popular across different social media platforms as ‘Kahanikaar Sudhanshu Rai’. What’s special about his stories is the fact that each of his stories are not just narrated, but also conceived by him. Most of his creations are from the genres of horror, thriller, detective stories, science fiction. But on special occasions, Sudhanshu does not refrain from treating his listeners with some out-of-the-box heart touching stories. His idea behind writing and narrating stories is that they should be inspirational, entertaining and must touch lives of people. Some of his stories such as ‘The Mystery of Dark House’ and ‘Happy New Year 2020’ were shared widely on social media platforms and loved by one and all.
3. Vikram Sridhar
According to Vikram Sridhar, the founder of Around the Story Tree, a sit-down storytelling is as interesting and engaging as stand-up comedy. Vikram is known for his various storytelling sessions among children of different age groups and cities. As per a report in The Hindu, Vikram has done at least 120 sessions across India. His USP is that he can do the same story in a 15-minute format for kids and in a more detailed format for adults. He believes that storytelling as a performing art is still in its nascent stage in India and has a long road ahead. His tales are mostly about history, mythology and folklores.
4. Geeta Ramanujam
She is one of the senior-most storytellers in the country and has been pursuing the art for more than 22 years now. She has established and founded the Academy of Storytelling, which is the only globally recognised Academy for Storytelling in the World. The veteran storyteller works with the concept of impacting young minds to think differently, by transforming their thinking and creativity. Her mantra is – to be a good storyteller, you need to be a good listener. Geeta Ramanujam has also founded a trust named Kathalaya, which aims at making a positive change in society through storytelling.
The aforementioned individuals have carved a niche for themselves in their bid to keep the age-old tradition of storytelling alive. They have, in their own unique ways, molded and transformed the art, but only to keep the soul of it intact. What they do is not just different, but probably one of the most real form of various arts around us.