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Marathi Theater


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Page Last Updated: May 09, 2017

Marathi Theater

Influenced by Yakshagana, the traditional dance-drama of rural Karnataka, the Marathi stage achieved a clear regional form by the middle of the 19th century. The Parsi theater, which imbibed many traits from English-drama touring companies, was also popular in the Bombay Presidency (which included Gujarat, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka). ‘Natak Companies' were then floated, with a liberal dollop of Hindustani classical music and dance in Marathi plays that contained mythological and social themes. These became popular instantly. Great playwrights appeared and tried to inject small doses of social and political awareness into the theater.

The Marathi stage left a powerful influence on the masses in spite of the appearance of movies in the third decade of this century. Stage songs, based on Hindustani classical ragas, are still a rage, although the old fashioned plays, lasting 4-6 hours, no longer exist. Staged in a diluted and capsule form, Marathi theater is still very popular with the urban and rural masses, mainly due to nostalgia. Playwriting as a form of literature is also popular.


In Maharashtra, Tamasha or folk-theater -- like Jatra in Bengal and Yakshagana in Karnataka –has great rustic appeal, and has a vigorous dance and music format. Nowadays Tamasha includes modern themes along with older customary embellishments, and is extremely popular.

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