Colonial Beginning of Modern Theatre in India

India’s brush with the West during late eighteenth and early 20th century had broad runing political, economic, societal and cultural effects. In the field of theater this brush changed about everything – its signifier, way and gait ( Jain 1992:61 ) . Established in the British colonies in Calcutta and later in Bombay, the birth of modern theater in India is unimpeachably a colonial phenomenon. The bing traditional theatrical public presentations were perceived as coarse rural amusement and an attitude of superciliousness or apathy towards them developed. The British worked with the premise that India lacked theatrical civilization and they took it as the ‘white adult males burden’ to originate Indians into it and Indians readily stepped frontward to copy and absorb western theatrical theoretical accounts available before them.

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During British colonial regulation theater as a modern signifier of storytelling and amusement bit by bit became established in main metropoliss like Calcutta ( East ) , Madras ( South ) , Bombay ( West ) and Varanasi ( North ) . The bequest of the modern Indian theater began with the terminal of the laterality of classical Sanskrit theater or more exactly brahminical caste witting theater and the shifting of the thematic convention and performative tradition ( Rangacharya 1975:94 ) .

Rise of Theatre in Colonial India

It is hard to turn up the history of about two hundred old ages of colonial theater in the altering socio- political and cultural surroundings. Theatre in this period possibly seen in three wide stages, first phase can be called the colonial period runing from 1795 ( the production ofDisguise) to 1872 ( the production ofNiladarpan) , during this phase, Indian theater was in its imitative stage and remained a manner of amusement and societal interactions for a selected set of English people and flush educated indigens. Theatre pattern was confined to the private theater ; some of the theater houses were build in the houses or groves of Baboo Prasanna Kumar Tagore ( Hindu theater ) , Baboo Nabin Chandra Bose ( Shyam Bazar Theatre ) and Baboo Parry Mohan Bose ( Jorasanko Natyasala ) . Bombay theatre scene had a similar flight before the coming of the Parsi theater. The colonial theater was strictly an recreational pattern and developed trusting on western theoretical accounts peculiarly Shakespeare became rather popular.

On November 27Thursday, 1795, Herasim Lebedeff ( 1749-1817 ) , a Russian with the aid of his Bengali coach Golaknath Das staged a Bengali version of the English drama,The Disguiseat the Bengal Theatre in Calcutta ( Barucha 1953:8 ) . Lebedeff made the interlingual renditions and the performing artists were all Bengalis. For Rangacharya this public presentation heralded the birth of the modern theater ( 1971:94 ) . At that clip the merely theatre bing was entirely British like The Calcutta theater ( supported by Warrren Hastings ) with repertories ofThe School for Scandal,Richard III,Hamletand others. The English theater entertained officers, merchants’ bookmans and clerks of east India Company. It was so sole that even Usshers and ushers were English ( Barucha 1953:8 )

By 1840 there was a demand among playgoers of Bengal to see theatre that would turn to the altering attitudes in society and in add-on they wanted to be entertained excessively.Bidyut Sundar( 1836 ) was among the first of these private public presentations. Staged in assorted parts of the house including the garden and the pulling room of Nabin Chandra Basu ( 9 ) the production relied to a great extent on hi-tech theatrical equipment imported from England. The drama was a dramatisation of Annada Mangal, a Bengali verse form by Bharat Chandra. As a dramaBidyut Sundarwas gawky but it’s historic importance was huge. It stimulated blue bloods like Jyotindranath Tagore and Pratap Chandra Sinha to sponsor theaters by in private patronizing public presentations of Bengali dramas. The effects of English instruction, the influence of western civilisation, the rise of political consciousness all created agitation that gave clout to people to assail orthodoxies and to turn to societal immoralities.

The first original drama in Bengali was Ram Narayan Tarkaratna’s ( 1822-1886 )Kulin Kulasarvasa( 1853 ) and laterNaba- Natak( New Drama ) ( 1867 ) both were societal dramas on the immoralities ofKulin( upper category ) polygamy. Michael Madhusudhan Dutt’s ( 1824-1873 ) foremost brush with Bengali theater was his English interlingual rendition of a Sanskrit classical drama adapted by Ramnnarayan Tarkaratna ‘s dramaRatnavali( 1858 ) . He wroteSarmistha( 1858 ) , based on a romantic episode from Mahabharata besides oppugning Hindu norms, his other drama calledEkei Ki Bale Sabhyata?( Is this Called Civilization? ) ( 1860 ) satirizes an anglicized baboo Naba Kumar who shocks people by his idiosyncrasies and in it we besides have treatments of female emancipation and widow remarriage.

In south India in late 19th century dramas based on the new western theoretical account were written in linguistic communications like Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Some names associated with theaters were: Pammal Sambandha Mudaliar ( 1873-1964 ) described as the establishing male parent of Tamil theater, Gubbi Veeranna ( 1890 – 1974 ) a innovator in Kannada theater and Dharamavaram Krishnamchari ( 1853–1912 ) a celebrated Telugu playwright. The dramas contained narratives drawn from fabulous, historical or societal event but signifier and construction were based on superficial imitation of the dramas of Shakespeare.

Some exclusions to the realistic dramas were Rabindranath Tagore’s ( 1861-1941 )Raktakarabi( Red Oleanders ) ( 1926 )Dakghar( Post Office ) ( 1942 ) these were symbolic and poetic, the first Marathi dramaSeeta Swayamvara( 1843 ) by Vishnudas Bhave ( ? -1901 ) , a tribunal poet of the Sangli swayer was inspired by theDashavataraof Maharashtra and theyakshaganaof Karnataka ( Jain 70 ) . Another of import histrion dramatist in Marathi was Balwant Pandurang Kirloskar popularly known as Annasahib Kirlosker ( 1843-1885 ) ; celebrated for his musical dramas likeShakuntala( 1880 ) andSaubhadra( 1882 ) that he staged for his ain theatrical companyKirloskar Natak Mandali( 1874 ) .

Girish Chandra Ghosh ( 1844-1912 ) one of the most celebrated figures of Bengali commercial theater established the Star, the Emerald, and the Minerva Theatre and wrote around 70 dramas that are slackly structured, episodic, full of happenstance, supernatural intercession and vocals. He claimed Shakespeare as his theoretical account and had an production ofMacbethin 1893 in Minerva theater. HisBalidan( forfeit ) trades with immoralities of dowery system,Sasti ki Santi? ( Punishment or peace ) societal play based on the agony of widows and argues for their right to remarry

Chauvinistic Phase

Productions with nationalist inclinations shortly employed theater as a forum for societal and political thoughts and ideals designed to act upon sentiments and raise societal and political consciousness. On December 7Thursday, 1872, in Girish Chandra Ghosh’s The National Theatre in Calcutta ( Calcutta’s foremost public theatre house ) opened with the production of Dinabandhu Mitra’s ( 1858–1859 )Nildarpan( The Mirror of Indigo ) . With the production of theNiladarpanbegan the 2nd stage that can be called the nationalist stage of the modern Indian theater. For the following 70 old ages aboutNiladarpanput the tone for the theatre scene. With graphic pragmatism and melodrama the drama detailed the desolation of an Indian landholder and depicted the pitiless development of the Bengaliryots( hired agriculturists ) by the British anil plantation owners. The drama ends tragically Golokchnadra Basu the Indian landholder bents himself and his married woman Savitri dies in a tantrum of lunacy. There is besides the scene where a plantation owner Mr. Rogue efforts to ravish a provincial miss Kshetromoni. Violation of adult females became diagnostic of the misdemeanor of female parent India. Thus colza was used as a political scheme to demo the flagitious offense a sahib could bring down on the indigen. TheNational Paperof 11 December 1872 described the drama as “ an event of national importance. ”

The production ofNiladarpanin Lucknow in 1875 erupted in force, which led to the break of the drama and the political developments shortly led to strict enforcement of censoring regulations. The British instituted the dramatic Performances control Act in 1876 under the disposal of Viceroy Northbrook. The Act sought to authorise the British disposal to command the theatre scene in India. Subsequently political and societal protests were forced belowground and Indian manufacturers had to go through it off under the thinly veiled pretense of historical and fabulous topics. Many dramatists turned their attending to corruptnesss in Hindu society and addressed a host of societal unfairnesss ; common among them were child matrimony, sati and dowery system.

In the northern scene the chauvinistic passion was reflected in Bharattendu Harishchandra’s ( 1850-1885 ) political sarcasmBharatDurdasha (India’s Wretched Condition ) ( 1875 ) andAndheri Nagri( The Lawless State ) ( 1881 ) he wrote 18 dramas with patriot and reformative positions and rendered them realistic in signifier. He revised the signifier of Sanskrit dramas to make new genres for Hindi play, historical, satirical and lyrical dramas.

Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar ( 1872 – 1948 ) an militant and theatre worker from Maharashtra had accepted the English theoretical account in his dramas, he was otherwise an of import leader in the freedom motion and as such was strongly opposed to the British regulation, so much so that his dramas were considered anti – authorities and public presentation of his dramas was banned by the colonial swayers.Kichak Vadh( The Assassination of Kichak ) ( 1907 ) is a drama based on an episode in the Mahabharata, where Kichak a curate at the tribunal of Virat attempts to molest Draupadi, and is slayed by her hubby. The drama symbolically represented the challenge to British regulation and the molestation stood as a metaphor for the colonial authorities in India.

Girish Ghosh’s historical dramas wereSiraj – ud – Daula( 1906 ) andMir Kasim( 1907 ) the first drama was based on Siraj du Daula the nabob of Bengal who resisted the military aggression and the fraudulence of Robert Clive. It was make bolding of Ghosh to idealise Siraj- Ud – Daula’s actions since he was elaborately linked in the heads of the British with the ill-famed black hole episode where hundred 46 Englishmans were incarcerated. Not surprisingly the dramatic public presentation act was imposed on the drama.Mir Kasimwas a drama based on another nabob of Bengal who opposed the British it became a thrilling narrative of gallantry, machination and love affair ( Thukurta ) . Another playwright to presume political stance in the mid-thirtiess by withstanding the dramatic public presentation act was Manmatha Roy ( 1899-1988 ) his allegorical purpose inKaragar( Prison ) 1930 was excessively blazing to be ignored. At that clip prisons were full of Indian political captives who were arrested because of their engagement in Gandhi’s civil noncompliance motion the message that the drama projected was merely as lord Krishna finally vanquished the tyrant Kamsa, the Indian political captives would finally subvert British.Karagarwas quickly proscribed.

In this stage Indian theater strived to get an individuality of its ain by reinventing autochthonal historical or fabulous characters, during this clip, one group of theatre practicians like Rabindranath Tagore, Bhartendu Harishchandra and Jayshankar Prasad treated theatre art aesthetically asDrishya Kavya( Hansen 1989: 86 ) and tried to maneuver clear of commerce rampant around the clip.

The Third Phase: The Parsi Theatre and Indian People’s Theatre Association ( IPTA )

Late 19th century was the stage of the rise of commercial theaters, the Parsi theater on the one manus and the formation of the socially, politically and culturally witting Indian People’s Theatre Association ( IPTA ) on the other.

During the period 1853 to 1931, Bombay developed a lively theatrical civilization rounded in the overlapping patterns of the Parsi, Gujarati, and Marathi theaters ( Hansen 1999:127-147 ) . This new urban theater was popularly known as Parsi theater. It arose in order to supply amusement to the increasing population of large metropoliss consequent upon industrialisation. It presenting dramas based on Indian mythology, history and fables. With its traveling companies, they travelled to different parts of the state and made a enormous impact on their audience. Western Naturalistic play, opera and traditional common people signifiers created a blend for visual aspect of the commercial Parsi theater. A assortment of immense scenes, apron phase, colourful backgrounds, spectacle, melodrama, music, temper and love affair wholly contributed to the devising of this theater. Agha Hashr ( 1880-1931 ) was an of import dramatist of the Parsi theater along with other well-known dramatists like Narain Prasad Betab and Radhey Shyam Kathavachak. Parsi theater besides had outstanding histrions like Cowasji Khatau, Khurshedji Baliwala, Master Madan, Fida Hussain Narasi, Having developed in freshly emerging large metropoliss like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai this signifier of theater performed by professional groups was the lone beginning of mass amusement before the outgrowth of film. The motion made a important attempt to convey play closer to the common people but its attack was brassy and orientation was fundamentally western. In fact, modern Indian theater grew chiefly as a reaction against its initial crudeness and shallowness.

Between the late thirtiess and the 1950s, a scope of events ; the colonial atrociousnesss, the Bengal Famine of 1943, the Telengana ( in Andhra Pradesh ) and Tebhaga ( in Bengal ) provincial motions, the Second World War, communal force, Partition, Failure of Nehruvian ideals created demand for an alternate civilization and generated responses in the signifier of aesthetic productions across music, theater, art and dance. Indian People’s Theatre Association formed in 1943 used theater as a political arm to show an alternate theoretical account of cultural production. It officially adopted the thought that music, common people signifiers and theater would be used for protest and response to the battles of a colonised state on the one manus and the multi-layered subjugation of the common people under both the colonial and the immediate post-independence period. The provinces where this motion was dominant were Uttar Pradesh, Bengal, Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The cultural squad of Binoy Roy travelled across the state to inform people about the lay waste toing dearth in Bengal through their choirBhookha Hai Bengal( Bengal is Hungry ) . P.C. Joshi, the so General Secretary of Communist Party of India took the enterprise and the creative persons of the times Prithviraj Kapoor, Bijon Bhattacharya, Ritwik Ghatak, Utpal Dutt, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Mulk Raj Anand, Salil Chowdhury, Rajendra Raghuvanshi, Jyotirindra Moitra, Safdar Mir and many others came frontward and formed Indian People’s Theatre Association ( IPTA ) in 1942. The first most popular drama of IPTA was Bijon Bhattacharya’s‘Nabanna’( Fresh Harvest ) . The drama was directed by Shambhu Mitra and Bijon Bhattacharya and was foremost staged on October 24, 1944 at ‘Srirangam’ , Calcutta. It portrayed the desolations of the Bengal dearth and the apathy of the British swayers, as besides of the flush category towards the predicament of the victims of dearth.Nabanna’was a successful in bestiring people and besides collected a significant amount for the victims of the dearth through its public presentations. Thoppil Bhasi’s Malyalam drama‘Ningal Endai Communist Akki’( You Made Me a Communist ) played a historical function in distributing communist plan in Kerala. The dance play viz.Bharat Ki Atma( Soul of India ) andAmar( Eternal ) were popular and other dance play of Ravi Shankar, Binoy Roy, Aboni Das Gupta, Shantivardhan, Nagesh and Prem Dhawan acted as accelerators in arousing the countrymen for their rights. Apart from theater, music and dance public presentations, the traditional common people signifiers besides contributed a batch to convey about societal reordering‘Navjeevner Gaan’( Song of New Life ) by Jyotirindra Moitra andBurra Katha,Veedhi NatakamandHari Kathaby Raja Rao were the advanced plants in in consonant rhyme with the aims of IPTA.

Soon after India ‘s Independence in 1947, the theatre scene started to alter radically. The impact of IPTA began to worsen and even amusement theater received a reverse due to the challenge of the more popular genre of film.

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