“I am extremely pleased to release the book ‘Two Classical Plays from India’, an English translation of Hindi plays written by well-known playwright D.P. Sinha, who has been associated with theatre since his university days. His plays have been translated into various Indian languages and staged across the country. I am told that over a dozen students have done their Ph.Ds on his plays.
While the play ‘Once in Inda’ explores the real value of ‘non-violence’ or ahmisa through the saga of a Hindu king, in the other play ‘King of Mathura’ the playwright has crafted an exceptional narrative around semi-mythological dictator, Kans, the uncle of Lord Krishna. It explores the workings of a dictator’s mind and the extreme potential of human capacity for evil. Both the plays highlight pathos and drama, while aptly reflecting India’s cultural ethos and mystique.
I congratulate Mr. Sinha for bringing out the English translation of his popular Hindi plays. The renowned playwright is the recipient of the ‘Academy Award’ by Sangeet Natak Akademi and a host of other prestigious awards. His plays are classics and larger than life.
Although theatre in its very rudimentary form was believed to have existed in Vedic age, it was first spoken about in an organized manner in Bharat Muni’s ‘Natya Shastra’- the ancient Sanskrit treatise on drama. It can be described as the bedrock on which India’s theatre, dance and music forms have developed over thousands of years.
For thousands of years, art and culture played a pivotal role in the development of India’s civilization. They created the platforms for inter-mingling of people with diverse backgrounds. To cut the long story short, various art forms including theatre played a major role in promoting the unity and integrity of the country. From Kalidasa to Rabindranath Tagore to Girish Karnad , iconic playwrights in different languages have time and again contributed immensely to growth and diversity of Indian theater.
As I had mentioned earlier, theatre was used as an important vehicle during the freedom struggle as it had touched the right chords and inspired many to join the freedom struggle. Social problems, day-to-day issues of the common man also were highlighted even while promoting freedom movement.
In States like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu theatre movement was quite strong and the Modern theatre has been influenced by traditional theatre forms. Apart from plays, various folk forms and oral traditions have always been used to narrate mythological, historical and social issues before the advent of cinema. Various art forms over the years have enriched India’s cultural mosaic.
I feel that the interest in various cultural art forms have to be re-ignited among the people, particularly through street plays and oral folk traditions. A range of social and developmental issues can be dovetailed interestingly into the narratives and the relevant message can be effectively conveyed.
In fact, the Telangana Government had recently fallen back on folk musicians to educate people against believing rumours spread through What’s App in the wake of lynchings.
Apart from holding a mirror to the current day society’s happenings, theatre, can be used to promote value system and to fight against various social evils like atrocities against women, poverty, illiteracy, caste discrimination, female foeticide, child labour and dowry menace. Many great playwrights have influenced public opinion in the past.
The advent of cinema, increased access to multiple forms of entertainment through television, radio, internet and new age platforms like You Tube, have adversely affected theatre’s popularity. There is a need to revive it and make it a prominent form of education and entertainment.