‘Topi Ki Dastaan’: A tale of two friends with different religious identities

NEW DELHI: Based on Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza’s novel, Tarique Hameed’s “Topi Ki Dastaan” is a story of two childhood friends who had different religious identities.

Penned by Rahi Masoom Raza, the 90-minute dastan, a 13th century Urdu oral storytelling art is a production by Wings Cultural Society won hearts at Connaught Place’s Central Park on Sunday afternoon as it emphasises that we are Indians or Hindustani first and later a Hindu or Muslim.

The performance had six artists – four men and two women narrating the story instead of two characters in the novel originally. The show, adapted from 1960’s Hindi novel “Topi Shukla” brought to fore through several tumultuous events that take place in the life of one Hindu Balbhadra Narayan Shukla or Topi and one Muslim Zargham Hussain or Iffan that grown up in an independent cultural environment and bond over cycles and grandmothers’ stories.

An X-shaped foldable book (rehal) immediately catches the viewers’ eyes at the packed open-air auditorium.

“The lotus symbol on a topi (cap) means the person who wears it is a BJP supporter, a cycle symbol-wearing person is a Samajwadi Party supporter and a broom on the cap means he/she is an Aam Aadmi Party supporter,” Tarique Hameed, the director of the production, said.

“But, there is no topi for an Indian,” Hameed, who also played a narrator and one of the ‘Topis’, said to thunderous applause from the audience.

The Tricolour is seen flying in the backdrop. To describe some of the powerful scenes from the novel, the performers used voice modulations that enhances the presentation.

“We don’t eat anything touched by miyans (Muslims),” one of the ‘topis’, a Brahmin, said when he visited Iffan’s house. The conversation led to the formation of Pakistan in post-independent India. “We are not here to talk about how Hindus and Muslims are bhai-bhai (brothers)?” Hameed asked during the performance. “In our homes, do we tell our brothers that we are bhaibhai?” he said.

The show having staged a dozen times but it is an eye-opener for the audience every time.

“I had heard about the novel but they have modernised it, which makes it more interesting,” Ankit Kumar, one of the hundreds present, said, reported Hindustan Times.