Religious folk theatre of north India mainly comprised of Ramlila and Raslila narratives. The Nautanki groups of Uttar Pradesh and some of the other groups composed of English speaking Indians and foreigners, tried their best to continue the exclusive practices of the former rulers, providing entertainment both on and off the stage for whoever felt he belonged; their productions were social events more than anything else. The average Indian, whoever he may be, was left out.
Only with the emergence and the vision and energy of directors like Habib Tanvir and Ebrahim Alkazi, and the foundation, of the National School of Drama, in 1959 (whose director Alkazi became in 1962), did a process of experimentation and professionalization start which has since changed the Indian theatrical scene altogether and is still going on. In this process, directors, actors and stage technicians as well as their audiences tried, among other things, to make themselves familiar with non-Indian theatrical traditions and practices.
Some of the most important Indian plays written and produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s were influence by, if not modelled after, Western illusionist drama. Again, it was for directors like Alkazi and Tanvir to show a way, if not the way out of this dilemma: it led out into the Indian countryside. While the urban theatre seemed to be passing through a phase of stagnation, its rural counterpart (until recently looked down upon by most of the city dwellers) was going strong as usual, as would appear natural in a country about four fifths of whose population live outside the cities.