By the mid 19th century the cultured and affluent young Bengalis of Calcutta started contributing in Indian theatre by writing Bengali plays whilst encasing the natya and rasa of Bengali theatre with Raaga, tana, lasya, and finally with light Indian songs and dance. Geetinatya as it has been reckoned, thawed a million heart in the then Bengal. It is around this time, Tagore's Raktakarabi (Red Oleanders) and Raja (The King of the Dark Chamber) were hugely appreciated.
Free and random adaptation from Greek, French and English sources further supported Bengali plays in assimilating the western ideas. Not only adapted plays but historical plays, mythological plays and also the social plays contoured the Bengali plays whilst making it a distinct art form of expressing ideas. The contemporaneousness was sown during that era. However, this seed of contemporary treatment, which was sown later, gained maturity as slowly Bengali Play, became a media of protest against the British Raj. In the hands of the famous Bengali theatre personalities like Girish Ghosh, Dinabandhu Mitra Bengali theatre ideally illustrated the colonial socio political issues. The Bengali plays soon became the strong medium of expression on social, political and contemporary issues of relevance to the common Indian. Naba Natak, which opposed polygamy, Nildarpan which criticized the British indigo planters for their sheer exploitation of the Indian farmers are some of the early efforts of protesting against the colonial rule. As a matter of fact that Bengali theatre had such an effect in depicting the socio political issues in British India that even the Britons perceived it as a potential threat to their Empire, if left unchecked
The facet of Bengali plays changed a lot with the independence of India. It is then Bengali theatrewitnessed a massive change in its stylistic approach. Bengali plays were no more a media for entertainment but was lot more. The Major productions in Bengali theatre then concentrated mainly in exemplifying the socio-political and economic conditions of independent India The leftist movement, the political scenario, the burning questions of unemployment all found an answer in the varied Bengali plays after independence. One such production was the Evam Indrajit. A perfect presentation of Badal Sircar, Evam Indrajit is the eloquent projection of fears, tears and frustration of the cultured bourgeoisie of the early 60s. The play ends yet the tunes hangs. With its artistic articulation and with its burning questions Evam Indrajit is reckoned as a milestone in the history of Bengali theatre.
Another remarkable presentation is Pagla Ghoda. 70's tradition, tears, pain and frustration is ideally staged through this play. This particular play is also important not just as a play but as an instigator of a new concept of Modern Indian theatre. The anti establishment attributes of Pagla Ghoda later contoured the Indian street theatre movement and is therefore reckoned as one of the masterwork of the great theatre personality- Badal Sircar.
List of Bengali Plays