(Last Updated on : 28-01-2009)
Dadabhai Sorabji Patel was a producer of Urdu and Parsi theatre. He was born into a wealthy Parsi family in Bombay. He had ambitions of developing the Urdu theatre in his own style. Dadabhai was well-educated with an MA degree in those days, he became secretary of Victoria Theatrical Company
in 1869 at the age of 30.
In 1871, he presented the first published Urdu play, Soneki molki Khurshed, translated by Aram from Edulji Khorey's Gujarati Sunana mulni Khurshed or 'Khurshed, Valuable as Gold'. This was based on the Hindu tale of Kamavati. It appealed to both Muslim and Hindu communities. He established the Parsi operatic form with Aram's Urdu Benazir Badremimir or 'Benazir and Badremunir' in 1872, containing eighty-odd songs in vivid ragas. It was invited to Hyderabad, watched, and praised by the Nizam of Hyderabad at a command performance. Patel also produced Amanat's Urdu classic Indarsabha or 'Indra's Court' and, for the first time, introduced actresses as its famed fairy characters of Sabaj Pari and Lai Pari at Hyderabad in 1872. By this time, he owned Victoria Company; but he left in 1873 and established the Original Victoria Theatrical Company.
Patel created two teams within Victoria Company, daytime professionals and evening amateurs. As a producer of Shakespeare's plays in Gujarati, he contributed to the development of Gujarati theatre
with his high ideals and concrete workmanship. His remarkable experiments or achievements were based on routine Urdu stage practice. These included bringing horses onto the stage, trapdoor scenes, and presentation of Hindustani dialogue and the shining days of the glorious Mughal period, which attracted aristocratic Muslim audiences to the theatre. To Dadabhai Sorabji Patel reality meant an enchanting world. The stage was overcrowded and acting suffered, but the fault lay with viewers' expectations influencing a commercial attitude. Dadabhai Patel died in 1876.