Marathi Theatre




Marathi Theatre:

A theatre is a place where performing arts performances, whether solo or group, are presented. 

Elements of theater:

  1. Performers: Artists, Dancers, Musicians, Makeup Artists, Costume Designers, Electricians, etc.
  2. Audience: Audience, Critics, etc.
  3. Director: Director, assistant director, etc.
  4. Theater space: Stage etc.
  5. Design Aspects: Scenery (art design), Costume, Lighting, Sound, etc.
  6. Text: Script, dialogues, dramatic structure, dramatic characters, etc.

Important contributor to Marathi Theatre: 

1. Thanjavur Maratha kingdom:

The rulers of the Bhosale family of Tanjore were great patrons of drama. Some of them had written a few plays and also translated Sanskrit plays.


2. Vishnudas Bhave:

  • Vishnudas Bhave is known as the "Father of the Marathi theatre".
  • He staged the first Marathi language play "Sita Swayamvar" in Sangali in 1843.
  • Bhave's plays were one-man shows.
  • The stories of his plays were rooted in Sanskrit mythological and religious literature. Songs and music were the strengths of Vishnudas Bhave's dramas. 
  • Historical, mythological, and lighthearted comedic theatre plays were produced in Maharashtra to continue the trend that Vishnudas Bhave began.
  • The farcical plays made funny references to social issues.

Vishnudas Bhave

3. V.J. Kirtane 

  • Initially, no written scripts were used. Often, only the lyrics were written down but the dialogues used to be spontaneous. 
  • The script for "Thorale Madhavrao Peshwe" was first written in 1861 by V.J. Kirtane, and a printed version of it was made available.
  • This signified the beginning of the custom of preparing a complete written script prior to presenting a play.

4. Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar:

  • Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar was a famous Hindustani vocalist and the "founder of Khayal music in Maharashtra"
  • He learned the Gwalior Gharana and brought it to Maharashtra.
  • Ustad Alladiya Khan, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, and Ustad Rahimatkhan all made significant contributions after him.
  • Through their efforts, the audience in Maharashtra was able to acquire a taste for classical music.


Balakrishnabuwa Ichalkaranjikar

5. Annasaheb Kirloskar:

  • The rise in popularity of classical music resulted in the birth of Marathi musical theatre.
  • Kirloskar Natak Mandali founded by Anna Saheb in 1880 was the pioneer and breakthrough performing company in Marathi theater.
  • The Musical play "Sangeet Shakuntal", written by Annasaheb Kirloskar, earned great popularity. Kirloskar added 198 musical pieces to his Marathi Shakuntal. They were a mixture of light music and traditional Hindustani and Carnatic music.

Balwant Pandurang Kirloskar

6. Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar:

  • "Sangeet Manapaman" was written by Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar.
  • Keechakvadh is a symbolic drama that Khadilkar created to criticize British rule.
  • It was predicated on certain incidents from the Mahabharata. Draupadi stood in for the defenceless Mother India, Yudhishthira for the moderates, and Bheem for the extremists. Keechaka stood in for the arrogant Viceroy Lord Curzon.
  • The characters used to be perceived in this way by the audience, which made them angry at the British government's imperialist policies.

Krushnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar

7. Natasamrat:

  • Shakespeare's well-known drama "King Lear" served as the inspiration for the play "Natasamrat," which was written by the renowned author-poet Vishnu Waman Shirwadkar, commonly known as Kusumagraj. It rapidly gained popularity. 
  • The tragic lead character of Natasamrat, Ganpatrao Belvalkar, is a combination of two well-known early Marathi theatre figures, Ganpatrao Joshi and Nanasaheb Phatak.

Other Important Contributions to Marathi Theatre:

  • Govind Ballal Deval musical paly "Sharada", is very significant because it makes a satirical point on the wrongdoing of marrying young girls to older men.
  • Plays like Ram Ganesh Gadkari's "Ekach Pyala" and Shripad Krishna Kolahtkar's "Mooknayak" are significant in the development of Marathi theatre.
  • The well-known plays Acharya Atre wrote "Udyacha Sansar", "Sashtang Namaskar", "Gharabaher", and others aided in Marathi theatre to continue after a temporary decline.
  • The recent plays based on historical themes like "Raygadala Jevha Jag Yete" and "Ithe Oshalala Mrutyu" by Vasant Kanetkar, "Ghashiram Kotwal" by Vijay Tendulkar, "Tilak Ani Agarkar" by Vishram Bedekar became very popular.

Marathi theatre performers:

  • Due to the variety of plays' subjects and genres, the Marathi theatre kept getting richer.  
  • Ganpatrao Joshi, Narayanrao Rajahamsa, also known as Balgandharva, Keshavrao Bhosale, Chintamanrao Kolhatkar, and Ganpatrao Bodas are only a few of the legendary Marathi theatre performers who are still regarded as brilliant actors.  
  • Early Marathi plays were performed outside. In Mumbai, closed theatres including Play House, Rippon, and Victoria were initially constructed by the British. After that, Marathi theatrical performances progressively moved to enclosed theatres. 
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Related QuestionsVIEW ALL [8]

Read the following passage and answer the questions based on it.

The movement started by Vishnudas Bhave was followed in Maharashtra by historical, mythological and also light farcical stage plays. The farcical plays dealt with social issues in a humorous way.
            Initially no written scripts were used. Often, only the lyrics were written downbut the dialogues used to be spontaneous. V.J. Kirtane was the first author who wrote the script of Thorale Madhavrao Peshwe in 1861 and its printed copy was made available. This was the beginning of the tradition of having a complete written script ready before staging a play.
         In the latter half of the 19th century, Balkrishnbuva Ichalkaranjikar made special efforts to introduce classical khyal music in Maharashtra. After him Ustad Alladiya Khan, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and Ustad Rahimatkhan contributed in a great way. Their efforts helped in developing a taste for classical music among the audience in Maharashtra. The growing popularity of classical music resulted in the origin of musical Marathi theatre. The musical plays of Kirloskar Mandali became very popular. Sangeet Shakuntal written by Annasaheb Kirloskar earned a great popularity. Another musical play, Sharada, written by Govind Ballal Deval is quite important, as it comments in a humorous style on the evil custom of marrying young girls to aged men. Also plays such as Mooknayak, written by Shripad Krishna Kolahtkar, Sangeet Manapaman, written by Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar and Ekach Pyala written by Ram Ganesh Gadkari are important in the history of Marathi theatre.

1. Who presented the play Seetaswayamvar in theatre?
2. Who is the author of the drama Sangeet Sharada?
3. Explain how drama creates social awakening.


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