Thursday, 27 March 2014

Sad Demise of Nautanki...............

*  As a child I remember watching the stories of Buddha, Nala-Damayanti, Bharthari, Harishchandra, Dushyant-Shakuntala and so many other Puranic tales, performed by various Nautanki groups that visited our village. It was fun and education watching those dramas, through the whole night.  Even after more than four decades, I vividly remember some of these. A few have been mentioned in this blog.  Unlike the movies, who in the name of cinematic liberty, often distort the actual tale, the nautanki groups preserved the essence and character of the story, as it was written or told.

*   Nautanki was born out of folklore of North India. There was a princess with incomparable beauty who was so delicate that she weighed only as much as a flower. This folklore took the shape of a drama then known as sangeets (musicals) by the name, Nautanki Shehzadi ("The Story of Princess Nautanki"). Soon it became so popular that the name became that of the genre itself. The word, nautanki, comprises two words, nau meaning "nine" and tank referring to a "silver coin, weighing four grams". It metaphorically implied that the graceful princess weighed only 36 grams.

*  It was famous folk theater, popular in northern India, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Before the advent of cinema in India, it was the most popular form of entertainment prevalent in these areas. Usually a nautanki consisted of folklore and mythological dramas with interludes of folk songs and dances. 

*     TV and multiplexes have slowly and steadily killed this excellent art, which a few decades ago enthralled the rural and semi-urban India. Sadly, it has become extinct. Often in solitude I mourn the sad demise of my favourite drama form.

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