The intelligentsia of Kolkata was no longer willing to be content with social farces and comedies. Social conditions now needed to be seen through the lenses of nationhood and as connected to a sense of history, defined and informed by a Hindu consciousness. The Brahmo Samaj movement at the turn of the century, led by Ram Mohan Roy, had turned the eyes of a section of the Hindu intelligentsia of Kolkata towards a close inspection of Hindu philosophy. The Brahmo movement that had proposed a recasting of Hinduism, especially its polytheistic practices, into European notions of liberalism, had led to a crisis in Hindu consciousness of the late nineteenth century. At this level the neo-Hindu movement went beyond the confines of an intellectual reassessment to turn into a quest for self-discovery. This revivalism demanded the fostering of a new kind of idealized social bonding that would give fresh life to a society that, the intelligentsia believed, had manifestly degenerated into spiritual bankruptcy in due course of historical process.
Within the next few years, this need for a new sociality, the notion of a newly invested jati (race), collapsed into a set of more readily and popularly understandable notions of swadesh (one's own nation) and swa-jati (one's own race). There was a new populist context to it - the nation needed to be peopled, i.e. the idea of the nation needed the bedrock of popular consensus; popular support was a necessary ingredient for nationalism to succeed. Thus, it became absolutely necessary for the literati to indoctrinate and "educate" the lower classes with its opinions to feed and enlarge the "national", and the theatre was an incredibly lucrative medium for that purpose.
In 1874, a new kind of play appeared in Bengali public theatre: the short patriotic "masque" accompanying the featured full-length play of the evening. Short skits - between, before or after the main attraction of the evening were not new to the stages of Bengali theatre; early in the Bengali public theatre, satirical pantomimes (pancharanga) and the one-person playlet (mastered by Ardhendu Shekhar Mustaphi) had been introduced as appetizers to the feature productions of the evening in response to the same tradition in the English theatres of Kolkata. But the satirical intent of the pancharanga had been replaced with a more serious scheme; this new version had something novel for its subject matter: devotion to the nation. On 28 March 1874, the Great National Theatre presented along with the full-length comedy Jamai Barik (The Son-in-Law's Lay) by Dinabandhu Mitra, a 15-minute masque by Kiranchandra Bandyopadhyay titled Bharat Mata (Mother India).
Obviously, Kiranchandra Bandyopadhyay's playlet led to a proliferation of more masques of this type, for patriotism and profit. A significant variation to the theme, however, was contributed by Harachandra Ghosh in his Bharati Dukhini (Sad Mother India), this time a slightly longer play but still within the same genre, where Mother India converses with her daughters from various parts of the British Indian Empire - Bengal, north India, Rajasthan, south India, the Deccan, etc. Girish Ghosh's dramaturgy is based on the notions, often stereotypical, the Bengali literati held of the other races in British India. These regional daughters, appearing like in a pageant, converse with their Mother about both the virtues and foibles of their respective regions and the peoples they represent.
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