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Watch This Rivetingly Emotional Performance Called ‘Gudiya’ By Swaraj Singh.

Where poignant storytelling meets gruelling realities of life, hope is born. A hope that tomorrow bears a safer sky and justice for all.

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Swaraj Singh

Trigger Warning: Rape

Somewhere in the day-to-day business of life, we forget that simple innocence which used engulf us as a child. A ‘Gudiya’ or a doll is an embodiment of exactly that. It is a symbol of love, innocence and child-like wonder which affirms our faith in all that is good in the world. Nobody is born with a cold heart, but with an innate wonder and most of all; kindness. But what if that doll is cruelly snatched away from you? What if you are hunted and brutalised for no fault of your own?

Written and performed by Swaraj Singh, ‘Gudiya’ speaks of a heartbreaking told many times in our country. He delicately and deftly takes us through the harsh realities of rape, by focusing on a doll, and how that life is extinguished. Unfortunately, this heinous crime still spreads rapidly in our country, curbing many in deep fear.

It is time to stop ‘moving on’ from these tragedies and seek the justice that is owed. It is time that the ‘Gudiya’ is safe and free enough to dream big and be whoever she wants to be. We haven’t lost our trust in the power of human goodness just yet, and wherever there are such voices; there is movement. The only way out is forward. Notions of victim-shaming and mental abuse of survivors must get dismantled. We cannot allow our dolls to suffer in silence while the abusers run free. With awareness about consent and sex education, the future seems bright. With voices like Swaraj’s, touching our hearts, I am left with no doubts that the goodness within people will be invigorated. Activism and solidarity will win, with the flag of kindness waving in the proud sky.

Never forget, every great change begins with a single ripple!

Credits: YouTube (Swaraj Singh)

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She Tells Tales, But Only Beautifully: Rachana Patil

Rachana Patil, an incredibly gifted storyteller and the winner of Steller, 2021, talks about her love for stories and the art of drama.

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Rachana Patil

There is a sense of ease as we begin the conversation. It is not, by any means, because of the questions I pose to her. It is only because Rachana Patil has mastered the art of speaking. There is, in her words, a cadence that exudes charm and a certain sense of happiness, making it impossible for you to not get engrossed in what she is saying. And while that may, sometimes, be difficult to prove in a tangible manner, the only thing I need to substantiate my claim is to point you to her winning Steller, 2021, the nationwide storytelling competition held by Tape A Tale. Storytelling is something that she is wonderful at. And, what better story is there to listen to than her own?

Born and raised in Mumbai, Patil prescribes a lot of significance to her childhood. There is almost a sense of reverence to the way she describes her earliest memories, cherishing them, for all they are worth, for what they have given her. In our conversation, she recalls how the act of speaking and performing held a special place in her formative years, with her being engaged in multiple co-curricular activities. In point of fact, she asserts that she truly enjoyed sharing stories ever since she was a child. It was only later, when she was growing up, that she realized that the act of sharing stories is something that is not only enjoyable but also something that holds immense value and is a craft, in itself.

That same realization bore fruit earlier this year, when Patil went on to win the Steller of the Year award, in the national level competition held by Tape A Tale. What a lot of people don’t actually know is the fact that she was actually part of the same competition the year before, in 2020. As a matter of fact, she made it past all the initial stages then, beating out the other competitors in Mumbai before going on to compete with the finalists from the other States. She made it till the final leg of the competition, only missing out in the last stage. 

Narrowly missing out on something stings. However, it stings a lot more when others try to make you feel better about your loss. Sometimes, that loss is worth a little too much to just let go of. Admitting the same, Patil pushed herself to improve, working diligently and striving to perfect her craft. When the competition came around this year, she didn’t waste time hesitating or wallowing in self-doubt. Signing up for it, she geared herself up for the coming selection phases. 

“This year, when the competition came around again, I went for it. I didn’t think twice.”

Rachana Patil

In the conversation, she reveals details about how the initial stages of the competition work. And before we go into that, it is crucial to stress how demanding the competition actually is. Leaving aside the sheer skill that goes into the art of telling a story, there is also the necessity for a dash of mental fortitude. Patil touches on the first stage of the selection process where she and a classmate made it through, after going up against contestants from her college. The second round was a six hour long session where participants, from all over the country, came together to perform their own bits. Interestingly, Patil states that part of the competition was, in fact, her favourite phase, with her being able to witness the stories that others had to tell. 

As she went on to Delhi for the third and final round of the competition, Patil found herself satiating a lifelong curiosity, one which entailed her, as a Mumbaiker, experiencing all that Delhi had to offer for the first time. And, that whole leg of her journey was everything she had hoped it would be. From the night of the event to the other participants sharing their own experiences with each other, everything went the way she had envisioned it. When she goes on to talk about being declared the winner at the end of it all, Patil explores what that experience was truly like. Indeed, as she held the trophy in her hands, she realized that this singular moment was everything falling in place as it should. There were no second guesses about what could have been or how it would have felt to win the previous year. 

“I would not choose to give myself the trophy in 2020. The journey, from 2020 to 2021, has taught me a lot.”

Rachana Patil

When we really explore storytelling, there is so much more to it than just choosing an engaging subject matter. Patil asserts that, when creating the tales she tells, she tries her best to add humour to it. Whether the tales, themselves, are fictional or based on her real life experiences, her stories come from the idea of attributing meaning to the little slices of life. Structure and plot cohesion comes only after the story itself takes a life of its own. Once that happens, everything falls in place naturally. 

As she talks about how she broaches the creation of a story, Patil talks about how storytelling and drama flow into one another. In fact, she doesn’t differentiate between the two. There is this idea of often keeping one separate from the other and, indeed, she has been asked by some why she adds theatrics to her own style of storytelling. She, however, refuses to restrict herself to one. You see, the art of telling a story is not an isolated art. It is, as Patil implies, an art that is infused into every creative effort that we engage in.

I am glad she brought up dramatics in the conversation because it is something that Patil harbours an immense amount of passion for. She touches on how it has always been a dream for her to study acting and drama at the National School of Drama, Delhi. Ever since she was a child, the institute has held a certain allure for her, with it representing, in a manner of speaking, a place where her dreams become reality. 

“Something about NSD has always pulled me. I want to learn, I want to go there. The day I do that, I’ll feel like I have done something good.”

Rachana Patil

And, the manner in which she wants to go about doing this is, like everything she does, untethered and seamless. There is a world of opportunity out there and Patil plans on experiencing everything that it has to offer. The idea of working on creative pieces from her own home fascinates her as much as the idea of going to study dramatics in a more structured manner. Through her words, you sense an individual that wishes, with everything she has, to embrace each and every experience for what it’s worth.

The person she has grown into today didn’t just happen instantaneously. Patil, in fact, attributes it all to her working past her own self-imposed limits. Recalling how she made it a point to go perform at every gig that she was aware of, she adds that the experience of just going for what she wanted and being rewarded for it, be it in the form of a clap or the tiniest smile, has helped her come out of her own shell. 

It takes a lot of self-belief to stand where she stands. The journey hasn’t been easy, of course, even if Patil’s enthusiasm and zeal makes it seem so. And, it is this very thought that she would want you to take from her story. There is this idea of leaving too much at the hands of others, one she says is crucial to shed. Only then, will you truly be able to chase something that you want. And if you take a closer look, Rachana Patil is inches away from getting all that she really wants.

Credit: YouTube (Tape A Tale)
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A Few Hushed Tales From Yesterday: Vanika Sangtani

An incredible storyteller and the founder of ‘Denied’, Vanika Sangtani opens up about her journey and the importance of the human experience.

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Vanika Sangtani

She answers each question with the utmost precision despite not having slept for the last forty eight hours. I see, as the conversation goes on, an individual with nerves of utter steel. She is brave, without a doubt, but she is also deeply passionate about the things she does. Vanika Sangtani might just be someone who has managed to mould her passion for the craft of storytelling and performing into a channel for helping those who need it. It is only right, then, that you take the time to listen.

Ever since she was a child, Sangtani had always yearned to perform on stage. For her, there was a certain allure to the idea of shining spectacularly, even if it was for a few moments. That came to being in first grade, when she was asked to sing on stage. Ending her performance with a beautiful flourish, Sangtani couldn’t help but fall in love with singing then. Resolving, at that delicate age, to improve even further, she began formally training her voice, enrolling in classes and coaching sessions. She even went on to get a chance to audition for Indian Idol Junior when she was in third grade. That, however, didn’t work out the way she wanted it to. The idea of a child, at that age, being a part of a reality show was something that her parents were not completely comfortable with.

Credit: YouTube (Tape A Tale)

That whole experience was somewhat disheartening for Sangtani and understandably so. She put a pause to her engagement in co-curricular activities, perhaps, a little dejected over the prospects of not being able to truly pursue something. It was only in eight grade when she decided to dive back into what made her truly happy: performing on stage. This time, it was theatre. And, she pursued that without a single shred of hesitancy or doubt. It was around this time that she began to feel drawn towards writing as well.

Initially, however, Sangtani never thought much about writing. In a sense, she never really saw storytelling and writing as a craft unto itself. For her, storytelling was not a defined art just yet. More so, when she began engaging with art of storytelling and writing, it was purely through a lens of organic progression. When she moved to Mumbai, pursuing a degree in Mass Media, she found herself a little lost. You see, the original plan was never to pursue Mass Media. 

Credit: YouTube (Tape A Tale)

One day, while scrolling through YouTube, she came across a performance by Kopal Khanna, the founder of ‘Tape A Tale’. The performance, or rather, the story, emboldened her to pursue her love for storytelling and writing. A month later, Sangtani saw that Tape A Tale was, indeed, looking for storytellers to perform at a particular event, the theme of which being a dedication to one’s grandparents. Even though she sent in a story dedicated to her grandfather, her piece didn’t make the cut. Sangtani, however, was not deterred. She did a little bit of research on the craft of storytelling and the manner in which other people go about it before sending in another story. This time, she made it in. She performed, for the first time, on 9th September, 2018.

When asked about her approach to creating a story and polishing that into a performance, Sangtani, unreservedly, says she doesn’t really have one. Even if she was pressed into having one, she states it would be very messy, indeed. In conceptualizing a story, she draws on her personal experiences, searching, perhaps, for a deeper meaning behind some of the incidents we take for granted. Like she says, a personal experience doesn’t really have to have an instantaneous effect on you. You could, for all intents and purposes, come to realise the weight and value of something much later on. In fact, her story ‘A Sanskari Girl’ followed a similar trajectory. More than anything else, Sangtani sees stories as a means to touch on the human experience.

Credit: YouTube (Tape A Tale)

Exploring that a little deeper, there is so much more that is, now, associated with the art of creative expression. Take, for example, the concept of social media and the internet having an effect on how creativity is viewed. Sangtani believes that, now, due to the nature of how the online world works, there is so much more pressure on artists. With every creative piece, whether it’s a story or an illustration, there is a certain need, on the part of the creator, for their work to be seen and heard. When that doesn’t happen, it can, sometimes, lead to a lot of self-doubt and hesitation, thereby, affecting the process of creation in itself.

And, while storytelling is a major aspect of her life, there is another part of her that must be acknowledged. When Sangtani was just 16, she went on to start ‘Denied’, a platform that initially began as a space for people to showcase their artistic talents. ‘Denied’ came about from Sangtani’s own personal need to have a space for people who never got the opportunity to reach out to an audience. As she explains, the reason behind naming the initiative in that manner was solely to reclaim the word. There was, ironic as it may sound, an idea of never having to be denied within the organization of ‘Denied’. 

“I never thought that I got the right platform for my art and that is why I wanted to start ‘Denied’.”

Vanika Sangtani

‘Denied’, gradually, went on to become more than it was originally envisioned as, branching out to initiatives that sought to educate children, from underprivileged backgrounds, in art, music, painting and basic primary school curriculum. As the founder of ‘Denied’, Sangtani has worked with thousands of children, numerous NGOs and social organizations, making a difference wherever she can. In spite of the countless challenges and constant hurdles, the mark she has left, in being able to bring about some semblance of positivity, in the lives of others is not only impressive but also deeply motivating. Just recently, she was named amongst the 19 ‘Young Changemakers’ by Ashoka for her outstanding work in bringing about a positive social change in the global community she is a part of.

Now, as she looks forward, Sangtani wants to pause for a bit. Her work with Denied has been of tremendous value, of course, however, now, she seeks to take a break and focus on herself for a little while. That is not selfish, however, it is only, and unreservedly so, human and natural. For an individual, young as she is, it is no small feat what she has managed to accomplish, both on a personal front and at the helm of an organization looking to help the underprivileged. It is time, and deservedly so, for her to rest, even if it is for a moment. She doesn’t want to stop completely, however. That is just not in her nature. In point of fact, Sangtani remains open to resuming the operations of ‘Denied’ some time in the future. As for storytelling, that will always remain an ongoing journey.

Credit: YouTube (Tape A Tale)

It is this idea that Sangtani wants to convey to others. As she explains, the world is too large, too heavy to be affected by one person alone. The only way to go about making a difference is by allowing for yourself to be better, even if it is through the little things that you do. The tiniest of gestures and actions can collectively go on to bringing about a change. Moreover, the idea of always having an end goal is sometimes, according to Sangtani, flawed. More often than not, in pursuing a goal with a single minded passion, we, at times, forget to appreciate the process of it. 

However, unlike those who forget what the journey can actually give them, Vanika Sangtani, with everything that she has come to do, cannot help but smile at the joy of it all.

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Witty Stand-up Crowd Work To Tickle You Till Your Stomach Hurts!

Watch these hilarious stand-up performances by Gaurav Kapoor and Rajat Chauhan; their crowd work sets will crack you up with laughter!

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Comedy

Regardless of people’s beliefs, stand-up comedy is an extremely difficult performance art. While most good stand-up comedians seem to be inherently hilarious, we forget to acknowledge the time and effort put into the writing process. It is not easy to stand on the stage with a mic and make an entire crowd laugh till tears roll down their face. Improv crowd work is even tougher. Yet skilled comedians like Gaurav Kapoor and Rajat Chauhan make it look quite easy.  

Good comics seem to be naturally confident; yet it is all a part of a performance. Humorous immersive writing is a big part of each set. Yet, delivery is everything. Timing, movement, posture, expression – all of it matters just as much. And the persona even more. Crowd work is nothing but improvised comedy. Whilst comics use people from their audience as subjects to their jokes, they bank on their persona and delivery to make people laugh. They don’t have a script to follow, no written jokes. It’s just them on the stage, with a large group of random people. And it takes skill to master this form of comedy and land each joke.

Today we bring you two such stand-up comedians who will crack you up with laughter as they do their crowd work sets. They pick people up and apart, making the entire room burst into fits of laughter. It’s just something you cannot miss!

The Comedians

First up we have Gaurav Kapoor’s hilarious set. This video is a clip from one of his shows in Chandigarh. While the set did start as crowd work, his “denim issue” did cause some amount of trouble. Yet, completely unfazed by the “technical errors” that occurred during the performance, Gaurav picked up the set and continued his train of thought making all the people crack up with side-splitting laughter! Without a doubt, you too will laugh till your stomach hurts!

Credits – YouTube (Gaurav Kapoor)

Next, we have Rajat Chauhan’s incredibly humorous set. In this video Rajat too participates in improv crowd work cracking hilarious jokes. The one-liners are simply spectacular! In fact, at one point in the video, Rajat comes in with a bow and arrow! The entire performance will brighten your day!

Credits – YouTube (Rajat Chauhan)

Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the performances belong solely to the artists and the performers and do not represent those of The Talented Indian. The platform is not responsible and does not verify for accuracy of any information contained in the performances. 

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These Storytellers Will Warm Your Heart With Their Performances

Tape A Tale once again brings us some gems and the message they convey might be the need of the hour for you.

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Storytelling

The art of storytelling is not easy. To be able to deliver the content in a way that is impressive, heart-warming and should justify the subject matter of the story is commendable. “To ho sakta hai tum galat ho” is something we all have heard at least once- be you a fan of storytelling or not. It’s quite a task to be able to move the audience with mere words and it’s an achievement to be remembered. We bring you two performances that will settle in your heart and move you with the message they convey.

First is Gunjan Saini with her performance “Pyaar ya Self-respect”. Falling in love and falling apart is a common process most of us have been through at least once. Love makes us do a lot of things as they say “love is blind”; losing self-respect is another thing people often do when in love. Gunjan narrates her story of how she too was in love once and she also faced heartbreak. Like any human she also had a hard time accepting and dealing with it. Her way of narrating the story is beaded with appropriate emotions and it’s a heartwarming treat. Does despite the hurdles she has her epiphany?

Credits: YouTube (Tape A Tale)

Another soul-stirring story we have is from Divya Chaudhary. In her standup “Kitno Ko Khush Karoge” she vocalizes the message using a very common scenario. Growing up as a girl in a society like India bounds you with expectations of many to fulfilled. Or even in general- we expect humans to fulfill expectations of many; sometimes even at the cost of comprising with oneself. Divya’s narration is simple and laced with beauty and an important message. The use of simple language is also a highlight of this standup. With the use of a very common situation which many of us might have experienced, she puts up a beautiful performance which is celebratory. Check out the performance to know how she turns a common scenario into a heart-warming story.

Credits: YouTube (Tape A Tale)
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Brighten Your Weekend With These Stand-up Performances

Growing up Desi is a sport in itself; Aditya Mehta and Punit Pania are here to share some ‘Desi’ experiences and make you laugh until you cry.

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Comedy

Humor is subjective and it’s quite a skill to make people laugh and earn applauds. It requires one to have elite humor and hence, very few make it in the standup scene. However, it isn’t entirely about the ability to ‘make’ jokes but it’s also about your skill to ‘narrate’ the simplest things in an unusual way. Sometimes the most uninvolved things can be funny when told in an unusual way.

We bring you one such set from Aditya Mehta. The 22-year-old recently dropped an about thirteen-minute stage full of ‘relatable’ incidents he experienced while growing up. The set is full of him sharing stories in a quick-witted way leaving the audience laughing. Starting off from him being the only child and how Mehta escaped his ‘uncles’ and their lectures on ‘career’, to him highlighting the difference of how a mother and a father would react if a kid decides to be stubborn- this set has it all.

Credits: YouTube (Aditya Mehta Vines)

Another comic is Punit Pania’s latest release where he unrolls many sides of the country with his hidden tongue-in-cheek comments. “The Great Indian Middle Class” is a 20 minute video but still somehow doesn’t feel enough. The audience absolutely seems to love his not-so-subtle satire on the politics and some trends of the country.

Pania’s extraordinary skill of touching some serious issues and highlighting them is something not everyone can do. Highlights from his performance are the punchlines where he comments on some recent happening of the country; His sudden switch of the language also leaves the audience guffawing.

Credits: YouTube (Punit Pania)

Disclaimer: The views or thoughts expressed in the performances belong solely to the performers and do not represent those of The Talented Indian. The platform is not responsible and does not verify for accuracy of any information contained in the performances.

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