(Last Updated on : 13/12/2012)
The rich account of Indian drama
unveils the verity that Indian theater has a deep rooted relation with Indian epics and Indian mythologies. This later not only structured the rich forms of Indian theater but also aided in making indian "Natya" to stand apart as a whole new form of expression. India has the most recollective tradition in theater which goes back to 5000 years. According to the rich timeline of Indian natya, it has its roots deeply allied with vedic ritualism and with age old socio cultural anthropology which delineated the development of various dramatic forms of Indian theater. The history of Indian theater
that goes back to the mythological era holds the fact that the ancient drama which was once the illustration of the eposes and myths gradually became a rather structured art form with the passage of time. Sanskrit dramas which was once the aristrocratic way of reflecting the unedited realities of life slowly became lot more structured and contemporary. The history of Indian theater thus portrays the rich saga of a journey from epic theater to the theaters of the modern era. The forms of Indian theater therefore can be broadly classified into six different genres like Classical Indian dance drama, traditional Indian theater, Indian Folk Theater, Indian Puppet theater, Modern Indian theater and the Indian Street Theater. Forms may differ, One contour might not give the same spectrum like the other yet every form of Indian theater carries the essence of the rich cultures and mores of India, the flush of its fiestas and most importantly the vibrancies of Indian populace.
Classsical Indian Dance Drama
: The aristrocratic and religious fervor of the Sanskrit dramas which ruled the Indian drama and art forms during the ancient era somewhat lost its grandeur with the introduction of Indian classical dance drama. Developed in the early 15th century Classical Indian dance drama gradually became a much cherished art form of the classical hindu temple culture. It became such a harmonious art form where ideas, thoughts, dramaturgy and Natya gained an articulate dimension through rhythm, mudraas and timber. Classical Indian dance drama amidst the artistic forms of Kathak, Vharatnatyaam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Mohinittam and Yakshagna gained a rather cohesive and consistent dimension. Classical Indian dance drama therefore became an art form of mouthing a lot amidst mudraas and rhythm whilst without saying anything. Quite ideally therefore Classical Indian dance drama gradually established itself as a typical form of Indian theater which is definitely an effort of personating the Divine through "rasas", "tune" and "mudraas".
Traditional Indian Theater
: The forms of Indian theater acquired a rather a whole new facet with the emergence of the traditional Indian theaters. The mudraas and rasas of the classical indian dance drama was rather rationized with the traditional aspects of Indian theater. Traditional theater performances at that time were mainly connected with various Hindu religious cults and divinities and were mainly performed by the devotees. Drama was then rather an illustration of virtue and vices. Traditional Indian theater as an art form was therefore a reflection which was definitely larger than life and also the very smartness of the contemporary realities were also missing yet it is not an exaggeration to say that it was the beginning of a particular form of Indian theater where apart from the verve of eposes, lyrics, epics and sanskrit texts and plays dialogue, monologue and soliloques made their presence felt in a large way.
Indian Folk Theater
: Gone are the days of traditional aspects which ruled the Indian theater during the medieval period, now came a rather reorganized and streamlined form of Indian theater during the late 15th and with the beginning of the 16th century. Folk theater as it has been named this art form actually has its roots associated with the times of the ancient rimes. Although as a theater form it emerged during the 16th century yet Folk theater actually boasts of its diachronic relation with ancient vedic literature and even with Buddhist literature. Folk theater as a typical theater form gradually emerged as a regional form of drama based on the attributes of local religion, legends, art, vernacular, history and mytghology. Indian folk theater can therefore be categorized into two distinct categories like the seculiar and religious; curiosly, the two art forms continiously influenced each other whilst making Indian folk theater to stand apart with dignity.
Indian Puppet theater
: Forms of Indian theater witnessed a marked change with the introduction of the Indian puppet theater during the fag end of the medieval period. Although puppetry started in a rather crude way in the cradles of evolution yet it is after the immense succes of Indian folk theater Indian puppet theater gradually made its presence felt. Shadow puppetry became popular as one of the classical forms of the Indian theater. "Natya Shastra" by Bharata unfolds the fact that even in the ancient age puppetry was there. The most important reference reference is to the "Sutradhar" who used to control and manipulate the dolls with "Sutra" or strings. Ancient India has accepted puppet as a divine creation and puppetry therefore stood apart as an eminent theater form of India.
Modern Indian Theater
: Seed of the contemporariousness in Indian drama was sown during the British Era. The harmonized blend of Eastern and Western philosophy, the impact of London Theaters later added that contemporary tinge to the age old aspects of Indian drama. Change was marked in the dramatic form however it is right after the independence of India and with the alteration in the socio and political set up in India Indian theater and drama became lot more realistic and naturalistic. Historical plays, mythological characters, virtues and vices were for the first time not given that much of importance and for the first time in India a whole fresh enunciation was bestowed in Indian drama and thus developed a new form of Indian theater - The Modern Indian Theater.
Indian Street Theater
: One of the most important and contemporary forms of Indian theater is the Indian steeet theater. In the recent era street theater has segregated itself as a means of illustrating the socio political issues and an effort to reach the common people. These short, direct, intimate and effective street theaters are a significant ways of handling issues. Indian theater gradually broke the barriers of orchestra, galleries, so called viewers and pits and reached the common pewople at the most unexpected places like at the market, bus stop and garage.
The various forms of Indian theater thus portrays the journey of Indian theater from the eposes to the contemporary theaters.