6. Entertainment and History

Things that help refresh our minds and give a feeling of happiness are the sources of entertainment. Various hobbies, games, drama-film, writing-reading, etc. are the sources of entertainment.

6.1 Why do we need Entertainment?

Healthy entertainment of excellent quality is essential for the healthy growth of one’s personality. Entertainment keeps our minds lively and fresh. It may also make us feel physically more energetic. So eventually our efficiency at work improves. Pursuing hobbies and games helps in personality development. In India many festivals, sports, dancemusic, etc. were developed as forms of entertainment since ancient times.

There are varied forms of entertainment available in the modern period as well.

Entertainment can be classified into two categories, active and passive. Active entertainment anticipates an individual’s mental-physical participation. Practicing of handicrafts and participating in sport activities are examples of active entertainment.

Watching a sports match or listening to music or watching a movie are examples of passive entertainment. In this type of entertainment we are not actual participants but only viewers.

6.2 Folk Theatre

Puppetry – Wooden Puppets (Kathputali) : Remains of clay dolls have been found in the excavations of archaeological sites of Harappan civilisation as well as sites in Egypt and Greece. It is possible that they were used as puppets.

In ancient India materials like wood, wool, leather, horns and ivory were used to make puppets. The Kathputali, a traditional art of puppetry in India has two styles; one that developed in Rajasthan and the other in southern regions of India.

The artists who stage Kathputali shows are found in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnatak and Kerala. The role of the narrator known as sutradhara is very crucial in the success of Kathaputali stage show. The stage for this puppetry show is quite small but the puppeteers use light and sound effects in an ingenious way. Shadow puppets, hand puppets, wooden puppets and string puppets are used in Kathputali shows.

Dashavatara Theatre : Dashavatara is part of the folk theatre in Maharashtra. Dashavatara shows are presented in the regions of Konkan and Goa after harvesting season is over. The stories presented in these shows are based on the 10 incarnations of Vishnu, namely Matsya, Koorma, Varaha, Narsimha, Wamana, Parashurama, Ram, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki. At the beginning of the show sutradhara, the narrator invokes Lord Ganesha, the destroyer of obstacles.

The method of acting, make-up, costumes in Dashavatara shows is set by the tradition. The show is mostly musical but sometimes there may be a few spontaneous dialogues. The characters representing gods use wooden masks. The show ends by breaking dahihandi, an earthen pot of curds, followed by aarati, singing praises of the God.

In the 18th century Shyamji Naik Kale started a phad*, of Dashavatara artists which used to perform all over Maharashtra. Vishnudas Bhave, the pioneer of Marathi theatre staged mythological plays by introducing some modifications in the Dashavatara style. Thus, the origins of the Marathi theatre can be traced to Dashavatara tradition.

*The meaning of phad is ‘a troupe’.

Bhajan (singing devotional songs) : To sing songs in praise of God and chanting god’s name accompanied by instruments like taal (cymbals), mridangam, pakhavaj is known as Bhajan. There are two types of Bhajan, Chakri Bhajan and Songi Bhajan.

Chakri Bhajan : Devotees keep moving in circular fashion and sing without break. Songi Bhajan : The singer-actors act as devotees and deliver dialogues in the form of devotional songs. Tukadoji Maharaj introduced a new form of Bhajan known as Khanjiri Bhajan.

In north India the bhajans composed by Saint Tulsidas, the great poet Surdas, Saint Meerabai and Saint Kabir are very popular.

Compositions of Purandardas, Kanakdas, Vijaydas, Bodhendraguruswami, Thyagaraj, etc. are sung in Karnatak.

In Gujarat Saint Narasi Mehta gave momentum to the Bhakti movement. In Maharashtra, Saint Namadeva supported the tradition of bhajan-keertan through the tradition of Varakari sect. The Varakari sect developed a glorious tradition of bhajan-keertan.

Keertan : Traditionally, Naradmuni is supposed to be the founder of the Keertana tradition. Saint Namadev is known as the first keertankar of Maharashtra. Other saints helped the tradition to flourish.

The keertankar is also known as Haridas or Kathekaribuva. He has to dress in a traditional way. He needs to train himself in oratory, singing, musical instruments, dance and humour. He needs to be very well informed. Keertan is performed in a temple or in the precincts of a temple.

Lalit : Lalit is an old form of entertainment in Maharashtra. It belongs to the tradition of Naradiya Keertan. It is quite popular in Goa and Konkan.

During the performance of Lalit on the occasion of religious festivals, it is presumed that the presiding deity of that festival is present on the throne and then she is invoked for fulfilment of a desire. The invocation continues as follows : “Let everybody be granted their desire. Let entire village live in happiness till we perform next Lalit. Let the internal clashes vanish with this performance of Lalit. Let nobody’s mind be spoilt with prejudice. Let all transactions happen with clear minds. Let the community’s behaviour be pious.”

The Lalit is performed in a theatrical style. Stories of Krishna, Rama and great devotees are presented during the performance. A few texts of Lalit are available in Hindi as well. Lalit forms a part of the backdrop of modern Marathi theatre.

Bharud : Bharud can be described as a metaphorical song that has spiritual and ethical lessons. Bharud is comparable to the style of a road show. Bharuds composed by Saint Eknath are popular in Maharashtra because of its wide range of subjects, dramatic quality, easy rhythm and humour. Saint Eknath composed Bharuds with a purpose of educating people on various aspects of life.

Tamasha : Tamasha is a Persian word. It means a ‘pleasing sight’. Tamasha developed as an independent art form in the 18th century, by absorbing various traits of folk theatre and classical arts. There are two types of traditional Tamasha, Sangeet Bari and Dholakicha Phad. Dance and music are more important than drama in a Sangeet Bari. Tamasha with drama as the main part, was developed later. It included Vag, the dramatic part, little later. The Vag becomes very lively and entertaining because of its spontaneous humour. The show begins by singing the praise of Lord Ganesha, known as Gana. It is followed with the presentation of Gavalan. The second part of Tamasha presents the Vag. The popular plays like Vichchha Mazi Puri Kara or Gadhavache Lagna are examples of the modern form of Tamasha.

Powada : Powada (ballad) is a dramatic narration by alternatingly reciting poetry and prosaic extracts. Powada narrates great deeds of heroic men and women in a very forceful and inspiring style. The Powada composed by Adnyandas, a contemporary poet of Chhatrapti Shivaji Maharaj, narrating the incidence of the killing of Afzal Khan and another one on the battle of Sinhagad, composed by Tulasidas, are two wellknown examples of Powada.

In the British period, Powadas narrating the stories of Umaji Naik, Chapekar brothers, Mahatma Gandhi were composed. During the ‘Samyukt Maharashtra’ movement the powadas were used as a medium of creating public awareness.

6.3 Marathi Theatre

Theatre is a place devoted to performances, either solo or collective, of performing arts. Participation of the artist as well as the audience is essential for a successful performance. The theatre comprises several factors such as script, director, artists, make-up, costumes, stage, art design (backdrop of the stage), lighting arrangement, audience and critics. Dance and music can also be part of a drama. A drama is usually enacted with the help of dialogues. However, mime can also be used as the medium of expression.

The rulers of the Bhosale family of Tanjore were great patrons of drama. Some of them had written a few plays and also translated Sanskrit plays. The 19th century saw a great development of the Marathi thetre. Vishnudas Bhave is known as the father of the Marathi theatre. Seetaswayamvar was the first play presented by him.

The movement started by Vishnudas Bhave was followed in Maharashtra by historical, mythological and also light farcical stage plays. The farcical plays dealt with social issues in a humorous way.

Initially no written scripts were used. Often, only the lyrics were written down but the dialogues used to be spontaneous. V.J. Kirtane was the first author who wrote the script of Thorale Madhavrao Peshwe in 1861 and its printed copy was made available. This was the beginning of the tradition of having a complete written script ready before staging a play.

In the latter half of the 19th century, Balkrishnbuva Ichalkaranjikar made special efforts to introduce classical khyal music in Maharashtra. After him Ustad Alladiya Khan, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan and Ustad Rahimatkhan contributed in a great way. Their efforts helped in developing a taste for classical music among the audience in Maharashtra. The growing popularity of classical music resulted in the origin of musical Marathi theatre. The musical plays of Kirloskar Mandali became very popular. Sangeet Shakuntal written by Annasaheb Kirloskar earned a great popularity. Another musical play, Sharada, written by Govind Ballal Deval is quite important, as it comments in a humorous style on the evil custom of marrying young girls to aged men. Also plays such as Mooknayak, written by Shripad Krishna Kolahtkar, Sangeet Manapaman, written by Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar and Ekach Pyala written by Ram Ganesh Gadkari are important in the history of Marathi theatre.

The popular plays written by Acharya Atre like Sashtang Namaskar, Udyacha Sansar, Gharabaher etc. helped the Marathi theatre to sustain through a temporary decline. The recent plays based on historical themes like Raygadala Jevha Jag Yete and Ithe Oshalala Mrutyu by Vasant Kanetkar, Ghashiram Kotwal by Vijay Tendulkar, Tilak Ani Agarkar by Vishram Bedekar became very popular.

The Marathi stage continued to get enriched because of its varied subjects and types of the plays. Marathi stage artists of the bygone era like Ganpatrao Joshi, Narayanrao Rajahamsa, more popularly known as Balgandharva, Keshavrao Bhosale, Chintamanrao Kolhatkar and Ganpatrao Bodas are still remembered as great actors. The early Marathi playes were staged on open grounds. The British first built closed theatres like Play House, Rippon and Victoria in Mumbai. Thereafter, the shows of Marathi plays gradually took to closed theatres.

6.4 Indian film Industry

Cinema : Cinema is a medium that brings together art and technology. With the technology of motion pictures the film industry came into being. It gave rise to the era of silent movies. Later, the technology of sound recording was introduced and the age of sound movies began.

The honour of making and releasing the first full length movie goes to Maharashtra. Maharashtra is known as the land that nurtured the Indian film industry. The contribution of Madanrao Madhavrao Pitale, the Patwardhan family of Kalyan, Harishchandra Sakharam Bhatvadekar, also known as Savedada is very important in the development of Indian movies.

Later, Gopal Ramchandra Torane also known as Dadasaheb Torane and A. P. Karandikar, S. N. Patankar, V. P. Divekar sought help from Foreign technicians and made a movie entitled Pundalik. It was released in Mumbai in 1912. Raja Harischandra, a movie directed by Dadasaheb Phalke was the first to be processed completely in India. It was released in Mumbai, in 1913. He also created silent movies named as MohiniBhasmasur, SavitriSatyavana, also documentaries on the rock-cut caves of Verul and pilgrim centres of Nashik and Tryambakeshwar. Later, a tradition of making movies on historical and mythological subjects came into being.

Anandrao Painter, the first one to make a cine-camera of Indian make, also got interested in the making of movies. His cousin Baburao Painter, also known as ‘Mistri’, made Sairandhri in 1918. He made the first historical movie, Simhgarh, which was a silent one. He also created historical movies like Kalyancha Khajina, Bajiprabhu Deshapande and Netaji Palkar. He also made a movie on a realistic social issue, entitled Savakari Pash. In 1925 Bhalaji Pendharkar made a movie entitled Bajirao-Mastani. However the British government suspected it to be a medium of spreading nationalistic sentiments and it was banned.

Kamalabai Mangarulkar was the first woman producer. She produced Savalya Tandel and Panaa Dai (Hindi). Ramshastri, a movie made by Prabhat Company in 1944 became very popular. In the postindependence period a few movies were made on historical themes. Aacharya Atre made a movie on the life of Mahatma Phule and Vishram Bedekar made movie on the life of Vasudev Balwant Phadke. Dinakar D. Patil made a movie entitled, Dhanya te Santaji Dhanaji. Bal Shivaji, the movie made by Prabhakar Pendharkar also needs a special mention.

Historical movies were also made in Hindi. The Hindi movies made in the preIndependence period, Sikandar, Tansen, Samrat Chandragupta, Prithvivallabha and Mughal-e-Azam were made with a historical backdrop. Dr Kotanis ki Amar Kahani was based on a true story. The movies based on the Indian struggle for independence such as Andolan, Zansi ki Rani, also deserve a mention.

Production studios such as ‘Bombay Talkies’, ‘Rajkamal Productions’, ‘R.K. Studios’, ‘Navketan’, etc. played a significant role in the development of Indian film industry.

6.5 Entertainment and Professional Opportunities

The students of history can avail of many professional opportunities in the fields of drama and movies.

Drama : (1) In order to achieve accuracy of stage backdrops on the stage deep knowledge of the history of arts and architecture of the concerned period is essential. Experts in these fields can work as art directors or consultants.

(2) The script writers as well as dialogue writers need assistance of experts in languages and the history of languages, as well as experts in cultural history of a given period.

Cinema : (1) The art directors of movies create the backdrop designs of atmosphere, costumes and jewellery, makeup, hair styles, etc., suitable to the times of the theme of the movie. Scholars of history can work in this field as art directors or as consultant to the art director.

(2) To write movie dialogues, knowledge of the culture and language as spoken in the concerned period is necessary. Experts in these fields can find many professional opportunities.