Itinerant players took up this rich repertoire of stories in the early twentieth century, though according to one tradition there was a late nineteenth-century 'environmental' production at Wahengbam Leikai, on Thoibi's return from exile in Kabow and escape from the rich noble Nongban. Thoibi rode a real horse as Nongban chased her in this performance. The event impressed the public as well as the palace, for the British regent banned future enactment with the warrant that it was tantamount to establishment of a parallel kingship in the state.
Probably in 1914 in Kongpal, an extended household concentration in the eastern valley of non-Hindu Meiteis who specialized in handloom products, a few elders under Kshetri Kanhai Singh built up a troupe of ten performers and inaugurated what is termed Ariba or old Moirang Parva. They acted the episode of the punishment meted out to Khamba by Nongban's henchmen, followed by Thoibi chasing away the villains, and some incidents of fun and laughter. In 1920, the Anouba or new Moirang Parva arose, led by Phurailatpam Nilkrishna Sharma, based in central Imphal with a mixed cast of Brahmans and Meiteis, and larger representation of newly invented clown characters. The latter's presence, mutual recriminations, and crosstalk became typical features of this genre. These groups shared an intense rivalry during the 1930s, presenting many choice episodes from the love story in an operatic manner. The actors sang in the archaic, related languages of the Moirang and Meitei, and delivered falsetto prose dialogues, often transforming them into ethnic songs.
Exchanges amidst the king and his attendants were in chaste court language, while the clown spoke vernacular slang. The indigenization of themes, performance, and language was perhaps not patronized by royalty, but emerged as part of the general trend of linguistic nationalism that swept colonized Manipur between 1910 and 1930. The aristocrats, typically Nongban, epitomized decadent, narcissistic, self-destructive nobility, given to manipulation and blackmail. One clown, Shoura, dependent on Nongban, loved him for his foibles, but sided with the lovers in times of real crisis, as the representative conscience of the justice-desirous public.
Moirang Parva reached a high level of grace and novelty. Body-size masks of tigers and elephants, wooden horses tucked under the armpits, large bent phallic cane sticks, beautifully-coloured costumes in ethnic types, and the style of turbans imported by nobles, were utilized. In common with other Indian forms, scenic unfolding was dramatized through song, and circular movements on stage signified long travels. But static tableaux of seated courtiers were placed in the background while other scenes were enacted in front. Improvisatory materials were used in plenty. These can be mentioned as chair could double as a tree, a handkerchief as fan or sword. The female impersonator playing Thoibi sported a native hairstyle of moon-shaped cuts, and wore gold kajenglei i.e. the traditional headwear of a goddess and striped sarong with a full blue-velvet bodice imported from Burma. Her soft body movements, sensuous facial expressions, the look in her eyes, the mellifluence of her dances, and gentle sexual allusions made this form one of the highlights of Manipuri theatre.
The rivalries between the groups enforced contrasted visualization of the episodes. What one did, the other did not. Once upon a time an extended household invited both troupes to perform on the same night, as a sort of unofficial competition. Generally, Anouba Moirang Parva was more modern in approach, in the sense that it catered to diverse tastes in action. This is more aware of changing demands and therefore managed to be subtle and varied, while Ariba Moirang Parva conservatively stuck to the traditional delineation of the original lore. Anouba Moirang Parva had more performers and, besides the clowns, Nilkrishna Sharmas suave bull-like arrogance and Loitam Yaima's appealing ignorance as Nongban were additional feathers in its cap. Naturally, it lasted longer on the circuit. However, in the 1930s, the new literati and educated Imphal elite reacted adversely to the plays. They objected to the depiction of the poor young Khamba and his sister seeking clothes and shelter late at night.
The middle class pressurized extended households not to invite Moirang Parva. Reactions were divided, and there were disputes among local populations due to the shows' popularity. By the 1970s, the passing away of veteran performers, the transformation in audience behaviour and tastes, the advent of films and shifting of public allegiance to other forms of entertainment and the gradual decline of the subject of Khamba and Thoibi as eternal lovers effected its demise. The managers of art tried to revive it but it survived only in the repertoire of all-women troupes. The new middle class reads the story in publication, as in Khamba Thoibi seireng by Hijam Angahal.
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