Born in 1878, Tarasundari was introduced to theatre by her neighbour and friend, Binodini. Binodini was 15 years older than her, and was already a well-known actress at the time | From #DastaanEDilrubai, a series by Shreya Ila Anasuya.
Dastaan-e-Dilrubai: The life and times of Farzana Joanna Nobilis Sombre Zeb-un-nissa, or Begum Samru
Too many accounts of Begum Samru's life convey an almost tabloid-like fascination of her possible romances with European men, and describe her as an upstart | From #DastaanEDilrubai, a series by Shreya Ila Anasuya.
Janki Bai of Allahabad was a singer and poet who rose from extraordinary odds to make a name for herself | From #DastaanEDilrubai, a series by Shreya Ila Anasuya.
Dastaan-e-Dilrubai: Revisiting the poetic tradition and artistic legacy of Chanda, better known as Mah Laqa Bai
This week in #DastaanEDilrubai, a series by Shreya Ila Anasuya: Chanda, or Mah Laqa Bai, was a contemporary of Mir, Dard and Sauda. Scholars agree that she was among the first, if not the first woman to have published her own diwan of Urdu poetry.
As the world reels from the spread of a pandemic and is forced to reckon with the breakdown of its known systems, perhaps those of us who have the means to do so can seek a quiet moment to find Mukhtar Begum's music, and let it change us | From #DastaanEDilrubai, a series by Shreya Ila Anasuya.
Little is known about Jahanara Kajjan, a singer-actress who was active in the 1920s and 1930s, on the stages of the Parsi theatre in Calcutta, and in early cinema, and whose 105th birth anniversary was observed in February 2020. What we do know about her makes one lament the limitations of the Indian film archive, particularly lacking in information about the interiority of the women who were crucial to the making of the film industry — not only in Bombay, but in regional centres such as Calcutta and Madras. Introducing #DastaanEDilrubai, a new series by Shreya Ila Anasuya.
Though pop culture and notions of Victorian morality led many to think of them as the 'other woman' or women of 'low character' who broke up marriages and enticed men, the story of the tawaifs is far different – and much more complex. They were artists of high calibre, who were expected to be trained in classical music and dance (Kathak); notably, they contributed immensely to the musical genres of the bandish and thumri. Though they were strictly non-combatants, they played a significant role in the struggle against the British by hiding weapons and rebels.