Bhakt Prahlad: The First Modern Garhwali Drama

(Review on a Garhwali Drama ‘Bhakt Prahlad’ by Bhavani Datt Thapliyal)
(Notes on Garhwali Stage Plays, Kumauni Stage Plays, Uttarakhandi Stage Plays, Himalayan Stage Plays)
                 Bhakt Prahlad is the first published modern Garhwali drama by Bhavani Datt Thapliyal (Khaid, Mavalsyun, Pauri Garhwal, 1867-1932) in 1914 from Calcutta. However, Bhavani Datt Thapliyal wrote Jay-Vijay a Garhwali drama before Bhakt Prahlad but due to technical problem he could publish Jay-Vijay drama after Bhakt Prahlad.  Jay-Vijay is based on well known folk Garhwali story and poem-Daint-Sanghar.  Jay-Vijay drama is the foundation for Bhakt Prahlad drama.  In Hindi drama scene, it was the transit period between Bhartendu Harish Chandra and Jay Shankar Prasad. The creation period of ‘Dhrub Swamini’ by Jay Shankar Prasad is same as of Bhakt Prahlad’.
  Parsi theatre style (initiated in 1853) was dominating dramas of Indian vernacular languages. The form of Parsi theatre was highly electric and stories were taken from epics as Mahabharata.  In the same period,  Sankardas Swamigal had been initiating Tamil dramas for modernization and bringing professionalism from at the end  of  nineteenth century; D.L .Roy was accelerating the work of  Golak Nath Das in the beginning of twentieth century ; C.V Raman Pillai wrote modern Malayalam drama ‘Kuruppillakkalari(1908) and Pandate Panchan introduced it in 1908’; in Telugu drama world, Chandala keshav Das’s ‘Kanak Tara’,  Pundit K.Subramanya Sastri’s ‘Shir Krishna lilau (1914), Shrimula Sachidanand sastri’s ‘Savitri’(1915) dramas were staged and various regional groups staged mythological and social based dramas in Kannada too.  
               Jag Mohan Lala is the father of modern Oriya theatre (1875) who also wrote first Oriya play ‘Baba ji’.
        In Marathi theatre, the era from 1882-1920 is called one of the productive eras. Around 1894-1928, Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar dominated Marathi drama world as his 12 plays were staged. There is similarity between the themes of ‘Bhakt Prahlad’ a Garhwali drama by Bhavani Datt Thapliyal and ‘ Kanchangadchi Mohana’ (1897) a Marathi drama by  Krishnaji Prabhakar Khadilkar that both dramas were based on the well known mythological stories but both the dramas were full of contemporary relevancies. While Khadilkar the Marathi playwright created a Prataprao for propagating notion of independence in KanchangadchiMohana’ and Bhavani Datt Thapliyal created many new  characters as Kaljugyanand a Guru who is a corrupt Guru, Gunda, Bhakunda, Durmati  for attacking on political and social wrong -happenings . No doubt, Bhavani Datt Thapliyal dedicated the drama to George pancham but the drama criticized and make ridicules of British raj in the drama 9a dialogue- Amto Mister ho gaya ab yurpo jana mangta..”. Shenoi Goembab (1877-1946) played major role in developing Konkani dramas in this period. However, Shenoi Goembab adapted western dramas for Konkani.
             In the same period, Jivan Jha wrote first modern Maithili plays –‘Sundarsanyoga’ (1904) and ‘Narmada Sagar’ (1906), both were social dramas and were staged in Varansi . Munsi raghunandan das wrote ‘Maithili’ and staged ‘Maithili’ play in Maithili area in 1910.
            Shiv Charan Bhartiya was first Rajashthani dramatist published ‘Kesharvilas’in 1900. The drama is a social drama and influenced by Parsi theatre.
 The first Mizo drama written in Mizo script is ‘Krista pallai’(19340 directed by Chauwngzika.
   Sorokhaibam lalit is called father figure of modern Manipuri drama. First modern Assamese drama is ‘Ramnavami’ by Gunabhiram  Barua (1857). The drama is about widow remarriage. The mythological subjects with social messages dominated Assamese dramas from 1857-1920. Dhanbir Mukhiya staged a complete Nepali language drama in 1909 in Darjiling. Pahalaman Singh swar  is credited for publishing first ever modern drama in Nepali  language ‘Atalbahadur’ . the said drama was published from varansi in 1906,
          Santan dharma Natak Samaj initiated staging mythological and moralistic Dogri plays from 1914 in Jammu.  
         Dip Cand bahman is called as ‘Kalidas of modern Haryanvi dramas who polished old folk theater style in Haryana around First World War.
           By studying the various plays of various Indian languages, it is obvious that in the period 1880-1925, the Indian playwrights tried to infuse social messages into mythological subject. Mythology was serving two purposes that audience was easily involved with the drama and there was less censorship problem with British authority.
               The theme of ‘Bhakt Prahlad’ is based on the story of Bhakt Prahlad of Hari Vishnu Puran. There are 28 acts in ‘Bhakt Prahlad’. Hirankashyapu is depicted as British Raj indirectly. Many characters in the drama represent the people of society and government administration.
            The dialogues are the major elements of this drama for being very enjoyable. As –
Kaljugyanand – maraj mi par gusa ni howan sarkaar – mi t sab tadna kari chuki ye par bar bar –aur guru ji n bi ye tain dekhaye khoob dhudhkaar fatkar –parantu yel jara bhar ni chhodi bolano narayan hari katari –ya te mahaprabhu ! kuchh aap hi karan ye ko vichar –ham to hoi gayan ye tain bilkul lachaar
  Though, there is less difference in languages spoken by various characters but the dialogues create the desired image of each character.
Jimidar – bin pani huye baanji saar, beej bi khaayiyan kistmar
Gothun goru gay gothyar , mai jimidar ji main jimidar ji
          The dialogues create characterization and attack on wrong happenings either in the society or in state administration.
   There are relevant lyrics in the drama. According to eminent Garhwali prose research scholar Dr Anil Dabral, the lyrics are very sharp and accelerate the speed of the drama.
  The play is still relevant and the play has potentiality for making a feature film too. Bhavani Datt Thapliyal created a drama culture for modern Garhwali language. Bhavani Datt proved that drama is the best medium for showing the good and bad happening in the society.
Copyright@ Bhishm Kukreti

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