(Last Updated on : 22-07-2009)
Jehangir Pestonji Khambata was a Parsi actor of heroes, heroines, villains, and clowns, and noteworthy writer for the Gujarati theatre
. He was born in Bombay in 1856 but brought up in Khambhat in Kheda district, Gujarat. He was much praised at the age of 14 for his handsome looks as Arnavaz in Kabraji's play Jamshed in 1870. In the roles of young women, too, he held audiences spellbound. Jehangir Pestonji Khambata played the Mahru Pari fairy in Aram's Benazir-Badremunir i.e. 'Benazir and Badremunir' in 1872 for Victoria Theatrical Company.
He dreamt of visiting England to see Shakespeare's plays, but managed only to tour Burma, Java, Sumatra, and the Andaman Islands in 1875. Jehangir Pestonji Khambata established the short-lived Empress Victoria Theatrical Company during 1876-8 with the help of his rich friend Lalsingh Dulhasingh of Delhi. He was a skilful practitioner of stagecraft, who produced Alibaba in Lahore in 1878 with Chinese sets and costumes. He enthusiastically selected young boys from Gujarat's traditional Nayak-Bhojak communities of performers for his troupe. Khambata wrote five plays, creating realistic social situations in Juddin jhaghdo i.e. 'Juddin's Fiasco' in 1905. This was a farce with a thread of absurdity based on the true story of a Parsi husband, his non-Parsi wife, and their ambitious son. His memorable book Maro nataki anubhav i.e. 'My Dramatic Experiences' in 1914 looks forward and reveals his deep understanding of theatre. Jehangir Pestonji Khambata died in 1916.
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