Natyajagar | Natyajagar: Plays performed by ‘Vande Mataram’!

August 15, 1947 is a day adorned with golden letters. Freedom was achieved after a long struggle. For this, the theater sector has also done a great job. Even though it is not possible to take notice of it in one breath on the anniversary year of Independence, it is the need of the time
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Natyajagar |  Natyajagar: Plays performed by ‘Vande Mataram’!


August 15, 1947 is a day adorned with golden letters. Freedom was achieved after a long struggle. For this, the theater sector has also done a great job. Even though it is not possible to take notice of it in one breath on the anniversary year of Independence, it is the need of the time to highlight some of the dramas along the way.

Playwright Vishwanath Nashikkar’s play ‘The Queen of Zhanshi’ came out in 1870. Plot based on true history. But this battle was inspiring. In it, the fans felt the British era imposed in the present day and the resentment against it. Another dramatist Shankar Moro Ranade wrote the play ‘Gournyaya Mimansa’ regardless of British pressure. No case against the white officers and employees could be conducted in the court. It was against that that the British administration of justice was strongly attacked. The British congregation was also stunned by this play. His attention was drawn to plays.

Three Plays by Swatantra Veer Savarkar. One is U:shaap (1927), the second is Sannyastakhang (1931) and the third is the musical response (1933). He has tried to present what can be obtained.

Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar’s play ‘Keechkavadh’. Story from Mahabharata in Purana. But its symbolism is precisely maintained. Lord Curzon Keechak, the governor who came to India at that time and the people of Paratantra are Sairandris. Enthusiasts feel moment by moment. The first version of this was published around 1907 and it was launched by the Maharashtra Natak Mandali in Pune. The then allegory given to the mythological story of ‘Keechakavdha’ seemed fitting. Its dialogues and individual characters are the subject of this study. Because the drama in it takes hold. On occasion, thinking about that time leaves one in awe. This play turned out to be an ideological churning of the freedom struggle.

Another play by Khadilkar. Which was popular on the stage in 1909 was also a shock to the British power. Peshwaite plot involved in it. The murder of Narayan Peshwa, the treachery of Barbhai, the storm between Raghoba and Anandibai, the decision of Ramshastri are full of incidents.

Despite the Peshwa’s history, it sometimes felt like a family drama at home and the symbolic meaning of this drama was to ‘warn off the British’. Khadilkar gave a message that if we keep fighting with each other like this today, this Goresaheb will not leave the country soon. At that time, the Congress session which was staying in Surat and the debates between them had reached a climax. Against this backdrop, the drama became a wake-up call for fans.

Not only did Marathi dramas contribute to freedom through drama, but the proceeds from many dramas were also donated to the freedom movement. In the year 1921, Khadilkar’s famous ‘Manapaman’ experiment was specially conducted. Balgandharva and Keshavrao Bhosale in it. The sum of seventeen and a half thousand rupees obtained from it, gold rings, necklaces were all offered to the Tilak Swarajya Fund in front of Mahatma Gandhi.

‘Sangeet Krishna Kanchan’, written by playwright Vasudeva Shastri Khare, is a play on this path. Who came to theater in Kolhapur in 1917. A fictional story of the royal court. From which ‘Country is our God and freedom is our religion!’ It was an attempt to send such a message. We should be proud of our country, said Sarangdev through the dramatic incident in the court. The play was a musical. Even though its presentation was done keeping in mind the preferences of the fans of that time, the thought of ‘Rashtra Dharma’ is firmly in the eye.

Playwright Rs. Shirvalkar’s play Rana ‘Bhimdev’. It was around 1892. Fictional though historical plot. At one place in it Bhimdev says – ‘O heavenly gods, are they not yet breaking the doors of heaven and hitting your ears?… Let’s cut off the hands of the guerrillas and step forward! Remember the bravery of your ancestors! Fight fierce battles! And with this sword hanging from your waist, drench the battlefield with the blood of your enemies! Revenge! Revenge! And revenge!’ – This soliloquy definitely reminds of the soliloquy of ‘Nut Emperor’. The inspiration to fight against injustice comes from the code of ‘Bhimdev’.

Marathi dramas have given many cultural and social themes to Marathi theater in the last fifty years. At every turn, the plays maintained relevance. Remembered that time. Even from religious, mythological, family topics to international topics were included. It cannot be forgotten that in spite of the pressure of ban during the period of freedom struggle, the people of color showed the strength of direct confrontation.

A dramatic incident in the play. Which is recorded in theater history. British Collector of Nashik A. T. The story of Jackson’s murder. A true story and a show of patriotism. In 1909, experimented with ‘Sangeet Saradan’ at Vijayanand Theatre, Nashik. Balgandharva in the lead role. Experiment Housefull. The play began and Anant Kanhere, a young man of only 19, shot Jackson in the theatre. Jackson collapsed… The spark of a powerful revolution fell on the occasion of the experiment of the play ‘Sharada’. The British government was shaken!

During the time when the country was on fire for independence, most of the dramatists of Maharashtra also kept their writings on fire. Politics, social service and patriotism were seen through his hundred plays. Theatrical institutions were also clamoring for freedom. If you search even from the name itself, its suffix comes. Lokmanya Natak Mandali, Bal (Tilak) Mohan (Gandhi) Natak Co., Balwant Natak Co. One or two titles of theater production organizations were also complementary to the freedom struggle, the leaders of that time were also leading the movement by connecting with dramas. Tilak named ‘Balagandharva’. So Shahu Maharaj provided financial assistance from time to time to keep the drama alive. The dyers who wandered all over Maharashtra for experiments contributed ably to the direct-indirect movement. At that time, there were no means of communication like today, so many patriotic leaders and activists got the basis of the right of dramatists.

Mama Varerkar’s play ‘Satche Ghulam’ became a tribute to the motherland. In the year 1922, the drama came on stage. The plot was not anti-British or even related to the freedom struggle, but when the curtain fell on the play, everyone stood up and started singing ‘Vande Mataram’ publicly for the first time. Along with entertainment, the country was saluted through drama. Then this step fell.
Symbolic plays against the British drew a single crowd on the stage in the pre-independence period. Playwrights kept their pen ready for political and social awareness. Journalist and playwright Khadilkar was under surveillance by British spies at that time. He had a bitter eye on his plays. It cannot be denied that Marathi theater was spent for freedom.

This journey started with Vishnudas Bhave’s ‘Sita Swayamvar’ who is the founder of Marathi plays. Year 1843. He said ‘Drama is national entertainment!’ This was the simple definition of Marathi dramas. Which turned out to be true. During the British era, the country had institutional kings-maharajas. He also had the honor of ‘Rajgawai’ who used to grace the royal court.

This journey of art started from Rajasraya and further reached musical dramas. This journey with ‘Rajashray’ as its mainstay has become an integral part of the Indian lifestyle. The dramas of the independence period became a beacon like witness to it. An era experienced the magic of ‘Vande Mataram’.

Sanjay Dahale

sanjaydahale33@gmail.com