Kena and Kaeya – Innovating the art of storytelling in India

Like most mothers, it started with reading aloud bedtime stories to my little girls. Theatrics, songs and voice-overs, I would put all the ingredients together in our reading sessions to watch her fall in love with the world of stories. Seldom did I know, that this love would not just stay strong but encourage her to do storytelling in communities.

Kaeya, all of 16, is the youngest storyteller in the circuit and we both are putting our best to innovate the storytelling culture in India.

In 2017, I began experimental storytelling, a long lost tradition that was fortunately fast catching up the pace with the young generation. I still remember when I got the opportunity at Lucknow’s Sanatkada to do storytelling for children, it embarrassed me to find my own in the audience critically looking at my art. It was funnily delightful to find Kaeya have an innate calling for storytelling with a peculiar eye for details.

In no time, she started contributing to community storytelling with me. In 2019, we moved to Noida where we together founded the Poetry Circle, a community to bring artists from all across to perform their spoken word pieces.

Meanwhile, I was storytelling for popular brands and also innovating Corporate Storytelling for prestigious B-schools like the IIMs and many organisations.

Kaeya was audience-ready but was she camera-ready? Not until the year 2020 when she underwent a certification course from the National School of Drama which instilled in her the confidence to take risks and experiment unapologetically. The very next year, her story on Sex Education got featured on Tape a Tale which crossed 55K views in a week.

Our journey is still work-in-motion where we delve deeper and work on our art each passing day like curious learners.

Do we collaborate?

Why just collaborate? We ideate, experiment and take risks innovating storytelling.

Do we influence each other?

Not much really! Given that we belong to two different generations completely, our audiences and storytelling styles are also visibly different from each other. So while we are each other’s best critique, a lot of storming precedes the norming.

Our hurdles?

For me, it is managing a full-time corporate career with my art while for Kaeya, it is managing a full-time school routine with hers. Our hands are full most time. Also, sometimes I think I’m too old for storytelling and she is way too young. We are both learning!

Our Inspiration?

Everyone we meet is a story in motion. If that can’t be inspiring, what else can?

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