Rocznik Komparatystyczny

ISSN: 2081-8718     eISSN: 2353-2831     DOI: 10.18276/rk.2017.8-10
CC BY-SA   Open Access 

Lista wydań / 8 (2017)
Questions of Modernity and Postcoloniality in Modern Indian Theatres: Problems and Sources

Rok wydania:2017
Liczba stron:26 (203-228)
Słowa kluczowe: komparatystyka literacka teatry hinduskie wielojęzyczność wielokulturowość Bharatendu Harishchandra Habib Tanvir
Cited-by (Crossref) ?:
Autorzy: S Satish Kumar
University of Georgia


This essay seeks to address both the category and phenomenon of modern Indian theatres. While the rise of the theatre in India was tied to the cultural forces of colonization, however, very early on in the history of Indian language theatres, we see practitioners struggling to define for themselves and for their audiences a sense of identity in both modernity and nationality. In the years following India’s independence from British dominion, the need for a national identity becomes more pressing. Such articulations of what it means to be “Indian”, manifest in the theatre, literature, and the various cultural discourses of the time. However, though a unity was sought in an independent nationhood, the inherent pluralities in a multilingual and multicultural context like India could not be ignored, in crafting this discourse of nationhood. In this study, I wish to, therefore, contextualize conversations around the history of modern Indian theatres within such a longer history of pluralistic responses to colonially mediated modernity and the quest for a modern national identity. I have hence, in my study, chosen to focus on two Indian playwrights, Bharatendu Harishchandra (1850–1885) and Habib Tanvir (1923–2009). Harishchandra’s career ends well before India’s independence in 1947, while Tanvir represents the first generation of playwrights who came of age in a nascent nationhood. Borrowing from Indian Comparatist Sisir Kumar Das’ theorizations on the phases of Indian modernities in his A History of Indian Literature (1991), I explore Tanvir’s and Harishchandra’s views on theatre as indicative of distinct phases in the history of Indian modernities, and thereby hoping to arrive at a less linear and more pluralistic view of the history of modern Indian theatres.
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