(Last Updated on : 04/04/2013)
Marathi Drama is always considered supreme in India just after the Bengali Dramas. The theatre personalities of Maharashtra rose in the summit of popularity in Pune and Mumbai, with the foundation of dramas by Vishnupath Bhave, who used passionate and tragic themes. There were many experimental plays, written in such a way that they rationalised the old medieval performance. Thus, the theatre personalities of Maharashtra are still a dominant community of artists in Western India and have become imbued with national self-awareness.
Influenced by Yakshagana, the theatre personalities of Maharashtra promoted traditional dance drama of rural Karnataka and the Marathi drama achieved a clear regional form by the middle of the 19th century. `Natak Companies` were then floated, with an addition of the Hindustani classical music and dance in Marathi plays that contained mythological and social themes, which became popular instantly. Even historical plays about the famous Marathi heroes like Shivaji. Later theatre personalities of Maharashtra presented humorous social plays, which later became a specialty of the Marathi stage. A leading contemporary theatre personality of Maharashtra, Mama Varerkar wrote social plays in a realistic style, attempting an amalgamation between European convention and Indian content. He gave a marvelous lead to the younger groups, which have been re-creating the Maharashtra village theatre through the Powada and the Tamasha.
Thus, the theatre personalities of Maharashtra left a powerful influence on the masses in spite of the appearance of movies in the third decade of this century. The theatre personalities of Maharashtra are still very popular with the urban and rural masses, mainly due to nostalgia. People also feel that theatre today has moderately fewer biases, prejudices and influences. Nobody imitates great established theatre personalities of Maharashtra like Ghashiram Kotwal, Gochi, Uddhwasta Dharmashala, Begum Barwe, Mahanirwan, or even Holi and Atmakatha.