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Gujarat Theatre

The state of Gujarat has a fascinating tradition of stage art that often blends music, theater and well known social themes or literary. The following section discusses useful information on Gujarat Theatre.


Bhavai One of the famous forms of theatre in Gujarat is Bhavai, which is believed to be introduced by Asait Thakar, a Brahmin from Mahesana. Excluded by his community, he used his poetic tendency and the help of his three sons to start this folk form that blends drama, song and dance. It was conventionally performed in the village square and was distinguished by farce and satire aimed at certain sections of society. The word "Bhavai" is originated from the Sanskrit root "bhava", which means expression. A performance starts with a prayer to the Mother Goddess. Characters called as Rangli and Ranglo start the theme and add continuity throughout the performance. Instruments like sarangi, harmonium, pakhawaj and jhanjh are used during the play. Dialogues of this Gujarat Drama were originally in poetry and often sung by the actors. Female roles in this Gujarat Drama were played by men in the earlier days of Bhavai. Each episode of a Bhavai theatre is called a vesh. Some troupes still perform this Gujarat theatre art, Bhavai in Gujarat. The contemporary street plays, approved by social activits, have originated from the Bhavai format. Many people from all over India visit Gujarat to witness this Gujarat theatre art form. Bhavai is very famous among Gujarat People.

Modern theatre in Gujarat

Modern drama in Gujarat started in the later part of the 19th century. Rooted in Parsi theatre, which is generally light comedy and takes from western models, it had no links to Bhavai. The style was amazing, loud and served to mass appeal. Ranchhodbhai Udayram, called as the Father of Gujarati Drama, tried to copy this trend with plays that encouraged awareness. Chandravadan Mehta reinforced this effort with themes that encouraged the use of Gujarati literary sources. This new theatre also allowed women to perform. Nowadays, theatre has faced competition from cinema and TV serials, but attempts are being made to restore it, especially in big cities. Despite the attraction of the cinema and TV, theatre still has a small but faithful following that has kept it alive.

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