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Development of Indian English Drama

Source: http://literaryindia.com/print/810.html

Drama in India has had a rich glorious tradition. It begins its journey with the Sanskrit plays. Indian tradition preserved in the "Natyasastra". The oldest of the texts of the theory of the drama, claims for the drama divine origin and a close connection with the sacred Vedas themselves. Origin of English drama can be traced to the ancient rules and seasonal festivities of the Vedic Aryans. The dramatic performances of those times mainly included depiction of events of daily life accompanied by music. Some members of the tribe acted as if they were wild animals and some others were the hunters. Those who acted as animals like goats, buffaloes, reindeers and monkeys were chased by those, playing the roles of hunters and a mock hunt was enacted. In such a crude and a simple way was drama performed during the age of the Vedic Aryans. Later, different episodes from The Ramayana, The Mahabharata and The Bhagvadgita were picked up and enacted out in front of the people. This kind of performance is still very popular in India especially during the time of Dussehra, when the episode of the killing of Ravana is enacted out in different parts of country.

There are refrences to drama in Patanjali's Vyakarna Mahabhashya, Jame's Aagam Of Raypaseni Sulta as well as Vatsyayam's Kamasutra, Kautilya's Arthasastra and Panini's Ashtabhyam. Thus the origin of Sanskrit drama dates back to 1000 B. C. All literature in Sanskrit is classified into Drishya (that can be seen on exhibited) and the sravya (that can be heard or recited). While poetry in all forms can be said to fall under the latter, drama falls under the formes. Drama in Sanskrit literature is coverded under the broad umbrella of rupaka' which means depiction of life in its various aspects represented in forms by actors who assumes various roles.

A `rupaka' has ten classifications of which `Nataka' (drama), the most important one, has come to mean all dramatic presentations. The Sanskrit drama grows around three primary constituents namely Vastu (plot), Neta (hero) and Rasa (sentiment). The plot could be either principal (adhikarika) or accessory (prasangika). The former concerns the primary characters of the theme and pervades the entire play. The latter serves to the further and supplement the main topic and relates to subordinate characters other than the chief ones. This is further divided into banner (pataka) and incident (parkari). The former is a small episode that presents, describes, improves or even hinders the primary plot to create added excitement. The latter involves, minor characters. The Neta or the hero, according to the definition prescribed by the Natyashastra, is always depicted as modest (Vineeta), sweet tempered (Madhura ) sacrificing (Tyagi), capable (daksha), civil in talks (priyamvada), belonging to a noble family (taptaloka), pure (suchi) articulate (vagmi), consistent (Sthera), young (yuva) endowed with intellect (buddhi) enthusiasm (utsaha), good memory (Smrthi) aesthetics (Kola), pride (maana) and is brave (Shura), strong (dridha) , energetic (tejaswi), learned (pandita) and pious (dharmika). The main category in which the hero of Sanskrit drama normally falls is the `Dheerodatta' that is he who is brave and sublime at the same time.

Bharata's Natyasastra is the most significant work on Indian dance and drama. Besides everything about composition, production and enjoyment of ancient drama, a wealth of information of types of drama, dren, stage equipment, production and music is also dealt with in detail. According to the legend, when the world passed from the golden age to the silver age and people became addicted to sensual pleasures and jealousy, anger, desire and greed filled their hearts. The world was then inhabited by gods, demons, yakshas, rakshasas, nagas and gandharvas. It was the gods among them who led them by Lord Indra, approached god Brahma and requested him thus Please give us something which would not only teach us but be pleasing both to eyes and ears'.

Bharata ascribed a divine origin to drama and considered it as the fifth Veda. Its origin seems to be from religious dancing. According to Bharata, poetry (kavya) dance (nritta), and mime (nritya) in life is play (lila) produce emotion (bhava) but only drama (natya) produces flavour (rasa). The drama uses the eight basic emotions of love, joy (humour), anger, sadness, pride, fear, aversion and wonder attempting to resolve them in the ninth holistic feeling of peace. Thus, when the dramatic art was well comprehended, the natyaveda was performed on the occassion of the celebration of Lord Indra's victory over the asuras and danavas. In the Natyashastra there is a verse in its sixth chapter which can be quoted as Bharat Muni's own summary of his dramatic theory.

"The combinition called natya is a mixture of rasa, bhavas, ,vrittis, pravrittis, siddhi, svaros, abhinayas, dharmis instruments, song and theatre - house'.

The most renowned and talented dramatists of the ancient era are Ashwaghosh, Bhasa, Shudraka, Kalidas, Harsha, Bhavabhuti, Visha-khadatta, Bhattanarayana, Murari and Rajeshkhora, who enriched Indian theatre with their words like Madhya-Mavyaayoda, Urubhangam, Karnabharan, Mrichkatikam, Abhigyana Shakuntalam, Malankagnimitram, Uttar Ramacharitam, Mudrarak, Shasa, Bhagavadajjukam, Mattavilasa etc. Till the 15th century, plays of Sanskrit tradition were performed on stage in Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Utter Pradesh and Gujarat. Sanskrit dramas were staged approximately upto the 15th century, but thereafter, Indian drama activity almost ceased due to foreign invasions on India.

The beginnings of Loknatya (People' Theatre) are noticed in every state of India from the 17th century onwards. We see in Bengal "Yatrakirtaniya' "Paol' and "Gaan' in Madhya Pradesh "Mach' in Kashmir "bhandya thar' and in Gujarat the forms were "Bhavai' and "Ramleela' in Northen India. There were "Nautanki, Bhand, Ramleela and Rasleela' in Maharashtra "Tamasha' in Rajasthan "Raas' and "Jhoomer' in Punjab "Bhangra' and "Song' while in Aasam it was "Ahiyanat' and "Ankinatya' in Bihar it was " "Videshiya' and "Chhari' in West Bengal and Bihar.

The rise of the modern drama dates back to the 18th century when the British Empire consolidated its stable power in India. In 1765 one Russian drama lover Horasin Lebdef and Bengali drama lover Qulokhnath had staged two English comedies Disgaig and Love Is The Best Doctor. But the real beginning was in 1831 when Prasanna Kumar Thakur established "Hindu Rangmanch' at Calcutta and staged Wilson's English Translation Of Bhavabhuti's Sanskrit drama Uttar Ramacharitam. Social drama of Girish Chanda Ghosh, historical dramas of D.L. Roy and artistic dramas of Rabindernath Tagore (Muktadhara, Chandalika) continued to reach upto the stage of realistic dramas during the period of the Worst - ever famines of Bengal and the second World War.

In 1852-1853, the famous Parsi Theatre was launched in Bombay which influenced the whole country in no time. Postagi Pharmji was the pioneer in establishing the Parsi Theatre company in India. Many new theatre experiences were brought up on stage during Parsi Theatre' evolution in India. On the other hand, the amateur theatre also developed with the works of Bharatendu Harishchandra, acclaimed as the father of Hindi drama. Pre - Independance Indian English Drama Indian English drama was started when Krishna Mohan Banerji wrote "The Persecuted' in 1837.

The real journey of Indian English Drama begins with Michael Madhu Sudan Dutt's Is This Called Civilization. Which appeared on the literary horizon in 1871. Rabindranath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo, the two great sage - poets of India, are the first Indian dramatists in English worth considering. R.N. Tagore wrote primarily in Bengali but almost all his Bengali plays are available to us in English renderings. His prominent plays are Chitra, The Post Office, Sacrifice, Red Obanders, Chandalika, Muktadhara, Natir Puja, The King of the Dark Chamber, The Cycle of Spring, Sanyasi and The Mother' Prayer. These plays are firmly rooted in the Indian ethos and ethics in their themes, characters and treatment. Sri Aurobindo is a major voice in Indian English Drama.

He wrote five complete blank verse plays besides his six incomplete plays. His complete plays are Perseus the Deliverer, Vasavadutta, Radoguna, The Viziers of Bassora and Eric and each of these plays is written in five acts. His incomplete plays are The Witch of Ilni, Achab and Esarhaddon, The Maid and the Mill, The House of Brut, The Birth of Sin and Prince of Edur. The length of these incomplete plays varies from one scene of fifty two lines to three acts.The most striking feature of Sri Aurobindo’s plays is that they deal with the different cultures and countries in different epochs, ringing with variety of characters, moods and sentiments. Perseus the Deliverer is grounded on the ancient Greek myth of Persues, Vasavadutta is a romantic tale of ancient India. Rodoguna is a Syrian romance, The Viziers of Bassora is a romantic comedy which takes us back to the days of the great Haroun al Rashid, while Eric is a romance of Scandinavia, a story of love and war between the children of Odin and Thor. Romance, heroic play, tragedy, comedy, farce, all find representation and thus the scale is large and the themes are diverse.

There is almost a global coverage in the total content of Sri Aurobindo’s dramatic literature. In matters of plot construction and characterisation Sri Aurobindo’s debt to Elizabethan drama is undeniable. The use of the English blank verse is flawless and in the right tune with the characters and situations. But at the same time we do not miss the impact of sanskrit playwrights like Bhasa, Kalidas and Bhavabhuti as Dr. K. R. S. Iyenger observes, “But all five plays are stepped in poetry and romance, recalling the spirit and flavour of the distinctive dramatic type exemplified in different ways by Bhasa, Kalidas and Bhavabhuti. Though, of course all have Aurobindonian undertones.”

Another prominent playwright who has made significant contribution in the growth of Indian English drama is Harindranath Chattopadhay. He started his career as playwright with Abu Hassan (1918). There are seven verse plays to his credit published under the title of Poems and Plays (1927) and all the seven plays are based on the lives of Indian saints. His Five Plays (1929) are written in prose where the writer’s socialist bent of mind is quite palpable. The Window and The Parrot deal with the lives of the poor. Whereas the Sentry’s Lantern is a symbolic display of the expectation of the advent of a new age for the downtrodden people. Sidhartha: Man of Peace is an adventurous effort to dramatise Budha’s life.The next great name we encounter is A.S.P. Ayyar who wrote six plays. In the Clutch of The Devil (1926) is his first play and the last one is The Trial of Science for the Murder of Humanity. Ayyar’s plot and characterisation are subordinated to the message and he uses the drama as a mode of apprehension of reality pertaining to contemporary life. P. A. Krishnaswamy is also a name in the history of Indian English drama whose fame rests chiefly on his unusual verse play The Flute of Krishna.

Another dramatic voice on the Indian literary scene that demands attention is that of T.P. Kailasam. He wrote both in English and Kannada. Though Kailasam is regarded as the father of modern Kannada drama, his genius finds its full expression in his English plays such as The Burden (1933), Fulfilment (1933), The Purpose (1944), Karna (1964) and Keechaka (1949). He has a real genius and love for the drama G. S. Amur holds a very high opinion about T.P. Kailasam. Amur rightly remarks------“A talented actor who appeared on the amateur as well as the professional stage, he brought to the writing of drama an intimate knowledge of the theatre. It is for this reason that his plays whether in Kannada or English , have a uniform technical excellence.”

Bharati Sarabhai is the modern woman playwright during the colonial era of Indian English drama. She has written two plays The Well of the People (1943) and Two Women with some considerable measure of success. Of these two plays, the former is symbolic, poetic and is besides a significant contribution to the Gandhian social order, while the letter is realistic, written in prose and probes the private world of a sensitive individual “The Well of the People’ is not of course a drama in the conventional sense. There are no formed changes of scene, and the stage witnesses continuous action.” It is based on a real story published in Gandhi’s Harijan in which an old Brahmin widow unable to achieve her ambition of going on a pilgrimage to Benaras and have a dip in the holy Gangas, decides to get a well dug for the untouchables in her village. She says “All men/ And women alike can come, drink and drink/ Here at my well with Harijans.”

J.M. Lobo Prabhu is the last great name in pre-Independence Indian English drama. He has written over a dozen plays but only Mother of New India: A Play of India Village in three Acts (1944) and Death Abdicates (1945) appear before Independence. His Collected Play was published in 1956. Lobo Prabhu is capable of writing dialogues with felicity, situation – creation is also admirable but his characters do not appear life like, soothing and convincing to the audience.The names of few more playwrights may be taken into account though they have made not substantial contribution to Indian English drama but they are great names in Indian English literature. Some of the important writers who have tried their hand at drama are Sudhindra Nath Ghose (Colours of a Great City).upto post – independence era, drama in English in Indian soil could not flourish as a major current of creative expression. The drmatists were not successful to evolve an independent dramatic convention to suit Indian climate. Although the pre–Independence Indian English drama is notable for its poetic excellence, thematic variety, technical virtuosity, symbolic significance and its commitment to human and moral values, it was by and large not geared for actual stage production. Post – Independence Indian English Drama.

In the post Indepedence era Indian English drama does not make a noteworthy presence unlike poetry and fiction. A prime factor for this is that “drama essentially a composite art involving the playwright, the actors and the audience in a shared experience on the stage has its own problems of which the other literary forms are free. However, the post- Independence Indian English drama was benefitted by the increasing interest of the foreign countries in Endian English literature in general and Indian English drama in particular. The climate slightly changed. A good number of plays by Indian playwrights Asif Currimbhoy, Pratap Sharma, Gurucharan Das was successfully staged in England and U.S.A. But the plight of Indian English drama is that no regular school of Indian English drama was established in our country. This was mainly because the encouragement drama received from several quarters immediately after India got freedom but it was monopolised by the theatre in the Indian regional languages while Indian English drama continued to feed on crumbs fallen from its rich cousins table.

The plays have been written in prose but at the same time poetic plays also survive in the post colonial era. M.K. Naik rightly opines “……. that Tagore-Aurobindo-Kailsam tradition of poetic drama continues, but which a difference in the hands of of poetic drama continues, but which a difference in the hands of Manjeri Isvaran, G.V. Desani, Lakhan Dev and Pretish Nandy.” Manjeri Isvaran’s Yama and Yami (1948) is a dialogue in poetic prose, with a prologue and an epitogue, dealing with the incestuous love of Yami for her brother. G.V.Desani’s Hali (1950), an entirely different kind of play, received high praise for its originality, symbolism and rich imagery. Lakhan Dev’s Tiger Claw (1976) is a historical play in three Acts on the controversial murder of Afzal Khan by Shivaji. His two plays are Vivekananda (1972) and Murder At The Prayer Meeting (1976).

The use of blank verse is flawless and the last play compels us to remind of T.S.Eliot’ s Murder In The Cathedral. Other verse plays of the period include P.A.Krishnaswami’s The Flute of Krishna (1950) M.Krishnamurti’s The Cloth Of Gold (1951). S.D.Rawoot’s Immortal Song. Karm and The Killers (1959) Satya Dev Jaggi’s The Point Of Light (1967) Pritish Nandy’s Rites for a Plebian Salute (1969). Hushmat Sozerekashme’s Vikramjeet (1970), Sree Devi Singh’s The Purple Braided People (1970), P.S. Vasudev’s The Sunflower (1972) and S.Raman’s Karme (1979). The number of prose playwrights is larger in comparison to verse playwrights. The most prolific playwright of The Post-Independence period is Asif Currimbhoy, who has written and published more then thirty plays.
Some important plays are The Tourist Meeca (1959), The Restaurant (1960) The Doldrumness (1960) The Coptives (1963) Goa (1964), Monsoon (1965) An Experiment With Truth (1969) Inquilab (1970) The Refugee (1971), Sonar Bangla (1972) Angkeer (1973) and The Dessident M L A (1974).

Pratap Sharma wrote two prose plays A Touch Of Brightness (1968) and The Professor Has A War Cry (1970). His plays were staged even abroad successfully but they failed to be staged in the country. Sex, moreover remains the prime theme of his plays but Pratap Sharma shows a keen sense of situation and his dialogue is often effective.

Nissim Ezekiel’s Three Plays (1969) including Nalini: A Comedy, Marriage Poem: A Tragi Comedy and The Sleep Walkers: An Indo-American farce are considered to be a welcome addition to the dramaturgy of Indian English drama. Songs Of Deprivation (1969) is also a short play by Ezekiel. Gurucharan’s Larins Sahib (1970) a historical play, deal with Henry Lawrence of Panjab. The play Marriage Poem, presents the conflict of a middle class husband caught in the conflict of commitments of married life and the desire of love. The Sleep Walkers is a diverting take off on national preconceptions and prejudices. In spite of strong sense of dramatic concept, Ezekiel could not transform his poetic talent into appropriate dramatic talent. His plays can be appreciated for symmetrical construction with abundance of irony. They unveil his sharp observation of the oddities of human life and behaviour. Ezekiel’s poetics self swayed his dramatic creed but his plays make a ‘pleasant reading’. It is attributed
“In his satire of current fashion, in his exposure of prose and presence, Ezekiel comes very close to the spirit of some English social satirist in theatre”.

Contemporary Indian drama, deviating from classical and European models, is experimental and innovative in terms of thematic and technical qualities. It is not an off spring of any specific tradition and it has laid the foundation of a distinctive tradition in the history of world drama by reinvestigating history, legend, myth, religion and folk love with context to contemporary socio-political issues. A cumulative theatrical tradition evolved by Mohan Rakesh, Badal Sirkar, Vijay Tendulkar and Girish Karnad, prepared the background of contemporary Indian English theatre.

Girish Karnad in the capacity of writer, director and actor substantially contributed to enrich the tradition of Indian English theatre. His dramatic sensibility was moulded under the influence of touring Natak Companies and especially Yakshagana which was in those days not accepted as the purified art form. His well known plays are Yayati (1961), Tughlaq (1962), Hayvadana (1970), Nagmandala (1972). He borrowed his plots from history, mythology and old legends but with intricate symbolism, he tried to establish their relevance in contemporary socio-political conditions. The play Yayati reinterprets an ancient myth from Mahabharata in modern concept. The plot of the play Hayvadana is adopted from Katha Saritsagar, an ancient collection of stories in Sanskrit. Tughlaq is Karnad’s best historical play where he mingles facts with fiction. Karnad projects the curious contradictions in the complex personality of Sultan Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq.

In the play Tale Dande, he discovers the vital relationship between contemporary society and literature. His use of myth as a structure and metaphor in his play gives “new meaning to the post from the vantage point of view of present”. In the play Nagmandala, the conflict is between patriarchal and matriarchal views of society. It is about the life of Rani, a typical Indian woman in male dominated society. She is married to Appanna, a wealthy village youth. The focus in the play is on sexual liberty of to sexes: male and female. In order to counter mail dominance, Karnad adopts a strange device in which King Cobre gets sexually involved with Rani and ultimately she becomes pregnant. Like his other female protagonist, she is encouraged to pass through chastity ordeal. Regarding the position of Rani, Smita Nirula holds,

“Rani is never free to express herself, to be herself. She is either daughter, wife, lover or mother. She is always playing a role imposed upon her, except in her dreams in the lonely nights that engulf her. She is a woman used, abused. She can either live as a whore or a Devi. There is no element of person for her”

Karnad’s dramatic art lacks stability still his success lies in technical experiment with an indigenous dramatic form. The collective efforts of Karnad and Karalam Narayana Pannikar are significant in their binding of the traditional forms of Indian theatre with the modern. Born in 1828, Vijay Tendulkar began his career as a journalist but from the very first play Grihasth in 1955 to Safar in 1992, his plays have given Indian theatre a rich and challenging reprtoire. Leading the Vanguard of the avant-garde Marathi Theatre, Vijay Tendulkar symbolizes the new awareness and attempts of Indian dramatists of the century to depict the agonies, suffocations and cries of man, focusing on the middle class society. In all his plays, he harps upon the theme of isolation of the individual and his confrontation with the hostile surroundings. Influenced by Artaud, Tendulkar, relates the problem of anguish to the theme of violence in most of his plays. He does not consider the occurrence of human violence as something loathsome or disgusting in as much as it is in note in human nature.He says,

“Unlike the communists I don’t think violence can be eliminated in a classless society, or for that matter, in any society. The spirit of aggression is something that human being is born with. Not that it is bad. Without violence man might have turned into a vegetable.”

While depicting violence on the stage, Tendulkar does not dress it up with any fancy trapping so as to make it palatable but rather keep it row and natural. The plays Chimanicha Ghor Hote Menache (1960) Kalojanchi Shalai (1968), Ek Holti Mugli (1967) reflect Tendulkar’s concern with authority and the idea of exploitation of individual. In the plays Silence! The Court Is In Session (1968) and Ghasiram Kotwal (1972), the theme of oppression dominates. Sakharam Binder (1972) is a study in human violence amounted to powerful dramatic statement. Kamala (1982) and Kanyadaan (1982) are written on the lines of naturalistic tradition. Kamala is a study of marital status as well as study in the theme of exploitation. Kanyadaan is a complex play about the cultural and emotional upheavals of a family. Tendulkar was associated with New Theatrical Movement in Maharashtra. He presents a fictional reality in which the reality of life acquires a sharp focused character having rare dramatic power.

Badal Sircar too is a prestigious name in the realm of contemporary theatre. He represents New Theatrical Movement in India. He has created an appropriate ‘puples’s theatre’ a theatre supported and created by people. His dramatic career began with humorous play like solution X. His earlier plays are Evan Inderjit (1962) That Other History (1964) and There Is No End (1971). All these plays are based on political, social, psychological and existential problems. Evan Inderjit, is a tale of a playwright who struggle in vain to write a play. In the play There’s No Need Sircar develops the thesis that “We are all accused” and share the burden of guilt. Afterwards, he wrote Pary Konodin, Jadi Aur Ek Baar, Palap and Pagla Ghoda. His later plays Procession, Bhoma and Stale News are based on the concept of Third Theatre. The play Procession is about the search for a ‘real home’ in new society based on equality. It suggests a ‘real way’ to new way in which man does not have to live exploiting man but should work according to his own needs. Bhoma is a dramatization of the life of oppressed peasants in sexual India. The analysis of these three plays suggest remarkable changes in Sircar’s concept of a ‘real home’ a new society based on equality and free from the horrors of exploitation. Tendulkar in 1967, established his theatre group called ‘ Satabdi .’

Sircar’s first contact with Grotowski’s ‘Poor Theatre’ influenced him greatly in formulating his Third Theatre. In Indian English drama the influence of Mohan Rakesh can not be ignored. Hr wrote in Hindi but for exceptional dramatic relevance, his plays have been translated in English and other regional languages. He published his first major play Ashadh Ka Ek Din in 1958, Leharon Ke Rajhansa appeared in 1963 and Adhe Adheere was first staged in 1969. The play Pair Tale Ki Zamin was completed by Kamleshwar after his death and published in 1974.

As a playwright, his main concern was to portray the crisis of contemporary man caught in the web of uncongenial surroundings and the persistent threat to human relationship. Mohan Rakesh perceived drama as a complex art involving the uniform contribution of actors, scenic effects, light and music and effective stage direction. Mohan Rakesh made extensive experiments in theatre. He used words and languages not as dialogues or direct statements but as the tools of suggestion to convey the meaning beyond the verbal connotation. In Ashadh Ka Ek Din, he highlights the dangers of sycophancy that whitess of his age face in desire of dignified official position. In Leharon Ka Rajhans, he reflects on the problem of relations between man and woman, ego clashes, divided self and on going illusion and nothingness. Adhe Adhure deals with the clash of ego between husband and wife, disintegration of family relationship, the prominence of individual interest against the commitments of the family. Besides, women dramatists also tried to enrichthe soil of Indian drama by projecting the inner world of feminine psyche in the theatre.

Women’s theatre coalesces with Street Theatre movement, using the same technique in performance and production. It can be attributed as a ‘Theatre Of Protest’ because women wuters expressed their resentment against the politics of exploitation on the basis of gender discrimination. They also revived the traditional myths of Sita and Savitri and tried to reinterpret the epics from women’s point of view. The dramatic work of Usha Ganguli and Mahasweta Devi can be placed in their category. MahasWeta Devi emerged as a dramatist having a quest to explore something challenging and new. His five plays are Mother of 1084, Aajer Urvashi O’ Johny, Byen and Water. The play Mother of 1084, is a moving account of the anguish of an apolitical mother who had witnessed the horrors of Naxalite Movement. In Aajir, Mahasweta Devi deals with the issue of the fast deterioration of values and their effects on society, particularly on illiterate people. Urvashi O’ Johnny is a play written for emergency through the love affair of Johnny with Urvashi, a talking doll. The play Bayen presents a moving account of harsh reality of a woman,s life in rural India. The play Water, is the story of a professional water-diviner, Maghai Done who is an untouchable boy. Her plays represent a profound concern for human predicament and sincere hope for the better future of mankind.


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  6. lots of spelling mistakes -scanty sketches and least theatrical or philosophical discussions. not a good read but enough to arouse interest in indian english drama

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  7. The origin and development of English drama from mystery, miracle and morality plays not, the university wits to Elizabethan and Jacobean drama to restoration comedy and tragedy to modern-day one-act plays not, but the rise and growth of the Indian English drama from imitation to maturity or under-maturity is the thing to be dispensed with rather than tracing back to a fusion and attempts made at a translation to re-act them in the West for a foreign audience or the English-knowing thought of making a start./Goethe’s appreciation of Kalidasa’s Abhijnanshakuntalam still adds to our stock. Our vast storehouse of the Raaslila, Krishnalila and Ramlila and King Harischandra dramaturgy is easily available to endow us. The tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are innumerable to be staged and enacted if one seeks to interpret them. It will beautiful enough to compare the Indian Shakuntala with the English Shakuntala. The make-up man can give a boost to it, as he knows it well how to dress and when to make up for the show. The stage decorator and the costume designer, the behind the curtain musician and the director, the producer and the anchorman, the light man and the showman, all have a collective role to play in. We have a long list of character to pick and choose from to base the story to be put on a dialogue format. Rohit, Sabya and Harishchandra, Rahul, Yasodhara and Prince Siddhartha, Pingla, Coutier and King Bhartrihari are there to take us by storm. The age-old stories of Icchadhari Naga-nagin continue to hold a sway over us. Savitri, satyavan and Yama, Vajashrava, Nachiketa and Yama are excellent discourses to profit us with the knowledge of the self. Duryodhana, Ravana, Sahkuni and Kamsa are ever ready with their stock in villainy. There is a lot to learn from hagiography. A play on Adi Shankaracharya and Trialngaswami will always elude a reader. The monkey showman, the bear showman, the trapeze dancer and the Indian juggler have always tempted the people and the visitors. The turbaned and dhoti-wearing charmers making the cobras dance and sway still steal shows from. The image of Sanjay giving a televised presentation of the war at Kurukshetra to blind Dhritrashtra, is it not interesting enough to hear and see? The great diplomat Chanakya of King Chandragupta is still talked about and referred to and what more to say to?
    English itself is not spoken in any one of the linguistic belts of it, then what to say of Indian English dramas and poems? Even if the poems can be, it is difficult to wrote plays in English. Even if the plays are staged, who will see them? Just for history’s sake, we talk about Indian English dramas and playwrights. The minor writers of plays turn for us great dramatic exponents of the drama. Some professionals too like Shakespeare will turn over to screenwriting from theatre acting, The fair girl, I think is the best actress to tell of Indian cinema and theatre, the rural and the urban, the Indian and the Western.
    Though Karnad plays with the king cobra and the charmer music in Nagamandala, but the reality is this that the poor charmers of India have remained the same poor lot what they had been in the past and the filmy men are making money out of it. The nagas are therein with the nagaknaya, but the wooden ‘been’ music with the haunting melody of its own is not in Karnad’s Nagamandala. An improvised and blackmailed story indeed whatever say they about him!
    Nissim Ezekiel had been famous as a poet so just for a small book of plays he was turned into a playwright but the cunning admirers of Indian English literature otherwise he is not.

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