(Last Updated on : 13/09/2012)
Casteism in Modern Indian Theatre formed an essential part of the play narratives. The politics of caste and social exclusion which occupy modern Parsi Theatre
produced in English (Nilufer Bharucha) were also critical to plays such as Girish Karnad'
s Hayavadana (1971), Vijay Tendulkar
's Kanyaadan (1983), and Kusum Kumar's Suno Shefali (Listen Shefali, 1978), for example. The latter deals with the angst of a 'Harijan' girl, her questioning of self-worth, and her refusal to rely on the charity of the upper-caste. Yet caste related issues acquired a greater force and centrality in the work of Dalit theatre groups, amongst which Datta Bhagat's play Routes and Escape Routes, is considered 'the first modern Dalit play to reach a large and diverse audience.
The term Dalit, which refers to a 'Realization' towards equality, in the words of Dangle foregrounds a politics of social reconstruction and change, which draws on the teachings and philosophy of Dr B.R. Ambedkar
and Jyotirao Phule
. Although it began in the Indian state
, Dalit theatre spread to Delhi
, Tamil Nadu
, Andhra Pradesh
, Madhya Pradesh
, and Uttar Pradesh
. In Uttar Pradesh, however, it contributed to the mobilization campaigns of the Bahujan Samaj Party
(BSP) through the recovery and revival of stories of 1857 women warriors (concept of Viranganas
) such as Rani Laxmi Bai
, which are staged through popular theatre to highlight their roles in the nation's struggle for liberation against colonial rule in 1857.
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