(Last Updated on : 24-01-2009)
Natyamanwantar Ltd. is a theatre company, established in Bombay. This was established with the aim of introducing the modern intellectual drama of Europe to Marathi theatre by K. Narayan Kale. He was the director and actor, Anant Kanekar and S. V. Vartak were the authors, Keshavrao Bhole was the music director, Keshavrao Date was an actor, and Dr G. Y. Chitnis were there. Natya means 'theatre' and manwantar is the 'change of an age'. The name reflects the idea of revolution, though only a borrowed one, of the Ibsenian social, realistic, box-set, problem play. Natyamanwantar reacted against the Sangitnatak, which had become decadent. Its first plays were Vartak's Andhalyanchi shala .e. 'School for the Blind', Lapandav or 'Hide and Seek', and Takshashila which was adapted from Ibsen's Vikings at Helgeland, all in 1933. Andhalyanchi shala watered down the expose of male selfishness in its source, A Gauntlet in 1883 by Norwegian dramatist Bjornstjerne Bjornson.
Although Natyamanwantar did not bring about a revolution, it did effect various changes. It deviated from the prevalent actor-manager tradition, and its constitution and organization differed from those of other companies. Realistic decor and acting style, absence of comic characters, restriction of the duration of songs to three or four minutes, removal of soliloquies, and attempts to coordinate the various constituents of a production formed its salient features. Troupes like Nutan Sangeet Vidyalay and Radio Stars had introduced actresses in Marathi theatre. But the controversy whether women from good homes should appear on stage was at its height when three of the wives of Natyamanwantar's founders namely Jyotsna Bhole, Padma Vartak, and, later, Leela Chitnis acted important and successful roles for Natyamanwantar. For the first time they provide the talent of women in a performance. However, Kale and Kanekar left the company, which closed down at the end of 1935.