Popular Plays with Historical Themes
Karnataka Samrajya, Swami Nisthe and Tejaswini were staged by the Gubbi Company. These and Ecchamanayaka written and staged by Garud Sadashivarao, Shaha Shivaji and Tippu Sultan staged by the Halageri Nataka Mandali could be cited as examples of highly popular historical plays. Almost all prominent professional troupes staged plays built around patriotic heroes and heroines like Kittur Chennamma, Belavadi Mallamma, Kittur Rudrambe and Sangolli Rayanna. These plays threw a flood of light on the patriotic heroes and heroines of Karnataka and inspired people against alien rule. Another play in this line that observes a special mention is Nargund Bandaya written by Achyutarao Huilgol. Episodes from the history of Mysore were recreated in all their grandeur and dignity by Samsa. His plays - "Vigada Vikramaraya", "Ratna Simhasana" and "Suguna Gambheera", could well suit the stage if ever they were seriously taken up by the professional stage.
Playwrights Popular for Penning Historical Plays
Shahajahan, a Kannada rendering by B. Puttaswamiah of Dwijendralal Roy's Bengali play became highly popular when staged by Peer and H. L. N. Simha. Chandragupta a Kannada rendering by M. N. Chowdappa of the Bengali original did stand to a grand stature, when it was staged by M. Veerbhadrayya's troupe in Mysore. Quite a number of other plays like Chatrapati Sivaji, and Yasodhara of Masti, Mayura of Devudu, Vidyaranya Vijaya of D. V. Gundappa, Raktaksi of K. V. Puttappa touched significant historical themes, but unfortunately they were not taken up seriously by the professional stage.
Change In Kannada Plays Through Historical Themes
The historical theme brought about a necessary change in the showmanship of plays apart from providing some scope for the first time, to original interpretation of themes by the playwright. It however, bound the methods of production with a defined type of settings, costumes and presentation. It placed an emphasis on naturalness in acting. Stage songs gradually made way for good dialogue and dramatic action; symbolism of the Pauranic play made way for material suggestion and the emphasis on entertainment shifted to calculated education. In spite of the odd battle-scenes and "humorous" pathetic sequences in the historical play, it became acceptable for it led the way towards the natural and realistic elements in the stage play. It replaced the mythological play which was the exclusive occupant of the stage and provided something new and different. Imaginative artists like Sadasivarao Garud and Mahamed Peer recreated historical heroes more to inspire the audiences than to entertain them. Unlike the Pauranic play, the historical ones came with a specific purpose and made a mark in the march of the theme from the Pauranic texts to the social plane - both from the points of literary content and methods of showmanship.
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