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Saturday, Oct 16, 2021
Outlook.com

Proscenium Posers

Tendulkar's book has no new texts, but the wide range of social criticism map his invaluable contribution to Indian theatre.

Proscenium Posers
Proscenium Posers
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
When did Indian theatre become "modern"? Stray comments in these two anthologies provoke me to ask this. Of course, every generation sees itself as modern, but intellectuals generally agree that the project of modernity started in India in the 19th century. Thus culture pundit Samik Bandyopadhyay's introductory dictum that Tendulkar's Silence! The Court is in Session is "the first significant modern Indian play on woman as protagonist and victim" or US director Erin Mee's crediting Tendulkar, Badal Sircar, Mohan Rakesh and Girish Karnad with "creating modern Indian drama" both kowtow to the false notion that Indian theatre was backward before the 1960s.

Bandyopadhyay knows well that modern Indian theatre emerged in the 19th century, but casually forgets its pioneers. In Marathi, for instance, G.B. Deval's Sharada depicted "woman as protagonist and victim" as early as 1899. As for who first wrote modern plays in India, Mee overlooks Bharatendu Harishchandra's Hindi Andher Nagari (1881), which reads like a present-day satire on urban corruption. Similarly,...

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