City-based storytelling collective finds mention in ‘Mann Ki Baat’

Over the past seven years, the city-based Bangalore Storytelling Society has been working on “reviving, promoting and nurturing the art of oral storytelling and popularising it as a performance medium”. On Sunday, the collective found mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 69th edition of ‘Mann Ki Baat’, his monthly radio address.

His address highlighted the art of storytelling and mentioned a few traditional storytelling forms prevalent in some parts of the country.

For the city-based collective, this has just strengthened their resolve to work harder in reviving the ancient oral traditional forms. Aparna Athreya, co-founder of the Bangalore Storytelling Society, told The Hindu that the whole experience, right from receiving a call from the Prime Minister’s office to being mentioned in the monthly address, had been a roller-coaster ride. “Storytelling is one way to connect and bond with one another and become a more connected, happier nation,” she said.

New journey

Ms. Athreya also said the mention in the radio programme could have piqued interest in many people about storytelling. “We are embarking on a new journey…we need to see whether such collectives from different parts of the country can come together to nurture the art form. We also could explore if it is possible to get grants to research and revive these art forms,” she added.

At Mr. Modi’s request, Ms. Athreya told the story of Krishna Devaraya and Tenali Rama.


Among the several traditional storytelling art forms are Hallakki tradition from Karnataka, Burrakatha from Andhra Pradesh, Villu Paatu from Tamil Nadu, and Dastangoi from the north. Hallakki is a very niche and traditional art form where the storytellers are women only. “There is no replicating it,” she said and added, “there is a need to preserve these languages and art forms. Many of these are receding into the rural areas and we should try to give them the recognition they deserve.”

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Sagar Biswas

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