Katha Kathan celebrated the 138th birth anniversary of Munshi Premchand, one of the most prolific writers of Indian literature, from 26th July 2018 to 31st July 2018, which is his birthday. The stories were presented in the signature, dramatized reading format, in three languages- Awadhi, Urdu and Hindustani.

Naseeruddin Shah
Naseeruddin Shah

These performances were held at different venues across Mumbai, with each venue having a mix of unique stories. What also made the programme unique was the fact that this is the first time ever Mumbai heard performances in Awadhi- one of the sweetest dialects of Hindi from Lucknow. Katha Kathan’s Lucknow team led by Smt. Nutan Vashishtha performed these stories with artists who specially came to Mumbai as part of Jashn-e-Premchand. The repertoire of stories being presented included: Panch Parmeshwar, Boodhi Kaaki, Do Bail, Shuddhi, Qatil Ki Maa, Bhoot.

The finale of Jashn-e-Premchand was graced with the presence of versatile actor Naseeruddin Shah. Speaking on the occasion about Katha Kathan’s mission to save languages, he said, “The language spoken these days is corrupted, and people claim that this is that language that is alive. Maybe… but it isn’t necessary that every living thing need be beautiful.”

Naseeruddin Shah with wife Ratna Pathak
Naseeruddin Shah with wife Ratna Pathak

He further added, “I am from UP and my wife is a Gujarati, now living in Mumbai. We did not want our boys to pick up the “aaraila jaaraila” lingo popular here, and so made it a house rule that everyone must speak in Hindustani.”

Continuing, Naseeruddin Shah said, “The credit of my recent play “Aurat, Aurat, Aurat”, which is a compilation of four pieces of Ismat aapa, goes to Jameel sahib, because I was did not know of them. I chanced upon these pieces when I heard him reading these on YouTube, which I then adapted for the stage.”

Jameel Gulrays, Founder, Katha Kathan and recipient of Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy Award spoke about his mission and said “Indian literature is rich in its content, however, sadly most Indians today would rather be found quoting Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche etc. rather than our own literary giants like Premchand, Manto, Tagore, Bharatiyar, Gurujada Apparao to name a few. Our group focusses on reading the writings of these authors in their original languages to reach out to Indians who probably do not know how to read their mother tongue but are still able to follow them so that they realise the beauty and depth of our very own language and literature.”

Jashn-e-Premchand Finale - team Hindustani Prachar Sabha with Naseeruddin Shah
Jashn-e-Premchand Finale – team Hindustani Prachar Sabha with Naseeruddin Shah


Katha Kathan, a Mumbai-based organisation has been working on the revival of Indian languages through the art of storytelling. The initiative is an ardent effort to save Indian languages from becoming dialects and eventually vanishing by reintroducing the beauty of India’s native languages through dramatised readings, using literature as a platform. Today, Katha Kathan has expanded beyond Mumbai, with chapters in New Delhi, Lucknow, Allahabad and is planning to open it in other cities too, to reach out to people in various parts of the country. Its members include academicians, voice artists, police officers, language lovers, theatre artists, journalists and many more who are associated with the platform purely for the love of their mother tongue.