Theatres of Western India: Lecture by Narendra Shrimali

Narendra Shrimali delivered the inaugural lecture of Cine Sangeet Ki Anmol Viraasat series on ‘Theatres of Western India: Traditions and Influences’. It was chaired by Ravikant. 


The musical lecture is focussed on the stage drama as a medium for public entertainment, as it developed in the 19th century. The period covered is circa 1850 to 1930. During this period, the stage drama shows, presented at theater locations in cities, as well as in makeshift arrangements in smaller towns and rural areas by travelling theatre groups, developed as a major vehicle for public entertainment. The presentation touches upon the main geographical segments where this art form developed and became popular with the public. A whole culture of watching stage plays developed. The stories for the plays were taken from mythology and folklore of the sub-continent over the centuries, as well as on real and fictional people and events in history.

This stage drama culture formed the precursor and the primary source material for the cinematography movement that arrived in the subcontinent in the last decade of the 19th century. The early cinema, both silent and talkie, depended heavily on the stage dramas of that period, directly borrowing the storyline, the dialogues, the songs and the music for constructing the film as the new agent for public entertainment.

Narendra Shrimali is Associate Professor at MS University, Baroda. He is an archivist and historian of theatre, cinema and sound. 

Ravikant is Associate Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Saturday, 5 November 2022, 4 pm, Seminar Room and Zoom