(Last Updated on : 22/07/2009)
Nanalal Dalpatram Kavi was a lyricist and dramatist who strove to create free-flowing blank verse in Gujarati. This rhythmic style is called Dolan shaili. Nanalal Dalpatram Kavi was born in 1877. He was the son of the first modern Gujarati poet-playwright, Dalpatram. He taught at Rajkumar College, Rajkot, for about a decade. He resigned as Education Officer in Saurashtra to join the civil disobedience movement, but dissociated from it after a disagreement with Mahatma Gandhi, and devoted the rest of his life to literature. As a lyricist par excellence he followed Dayaram's melodious poetic tradition. His pen name was Prembhakti i.e. 'love and devotion'. His study of Persian and interest in history came handy in writing two plays, Jahangir Nurjahan i.e. 'Jahangir and Nurjahan' in 1928 and Shahenshah Akbar i.e. 'Emperor Akbar' in 1930. Six verse plays include Jaya-Jayant i.e. 'Jaya and Jayanta' in 1914 and Indukumar in 1932, while most notable among five mythological works are Viswagita i.e. 'World Song' in 1917 and Rajarshi Bharat i.e. 'The Sage-king Bharat' in 1922.
Nanalal's plays have thin storylines, no dramatic conflict, excessive poetic narration and dialogue, and characters symbolizing his life-view and philosophy. He modeled his long soliloquies as in Akbar on those in Greek tragedies. Unfortunately, except Gopika i.e. 'Cowherd Girl' in 1935, none of his plays appeared in the commercial Gujarati theatre
, nor was his Dolan shaili tried out by professional actors. Thus his quest for Gujarati verse-drama remained unfulfilled, though Raghunath Brahmbhatt, popular company-theatre playwright, wrote his Sringi rishi i.e. 'Mountain Sage' based on Jaya-Jayant, and the original was produced in a shorter version by Rupak Sangh, an amateur troupe in Ahmadabad, after Nanalal's death in 1946.
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