This book presents a lucid, comprehensive, and entertaining narrative of culture and society in late 19th- and early 20th-century Maharashtra through a perceptive study of its theatre and cinema. An intellectual tour de force, it will be invaluable to scholars and researchers of modern Indian history, theatre and film studies, cultural studies, sociology, gender studies as well as the interested general reader.
‘A journey through the hundred years during which Marathi theatre and cinema shaped every contour of Maharashtrian society. Kosambi has the insider's intimate feel for this terrain, loves the achievements, failures and foibles of the people that shaped it, and is sensitive to the large cultural implications of small gestures not noticed before, leitmotifs barely traced, and twists and turns left unexplored in the vibrant course of these arts. A fascinating, funny, and therefore a very human record of an unusually creative age.’ — Girish Karnad
‘Meera Kosambi's book is a masterly and immensely readable survey of the social history of Marathi theatre. Beginning with Vishnudas Bhave's mythologicals and B.P. Kirloskar's musicals of the 19th century, she moves through the realist theatre of the 1930s to end with the early Marathi cinema. Copiously illustrated, the book discusses playwrights, theatre companies, texts, stagecraft, music, training, patronage, audiences — virtually everything one might want to know. Kosambi's crowning achievement is her chapter on Bal Gandharva in which she tackles with great skill and subtlety the complex question of female impersonation and how a male actor could, over more than three decades, set the aesthetic norms for the new bourgeois woman. This is an exemplary history of modern Indian theatre.’ — Partha Chatterjee
Preface and Acknowledgements. Introduction 1. Vishnudas Bhave’s Stylised Mythologicals (1843) 2. Prose Plays: Reinventing and Founding Traditions (c. 1860) 3. B.P. Kirloskar’s Musical Plays (1880) 4. New Paradigms of Social Realism (1930s) 5. The Kirloskar Trio: Deval, Kolhatkar, Gadkari 6. ‘Natyacharya’ Khadilkar: Ideology and Entertainment 7. Selected Renowned Playwrights 8. Major Theatre Companies 9. The Theatre World 10. Enter Women: Pioneering Women Dramatists and Actresses 11. Bal Gandharva: From Female Impersonator to Icon of New Womanhood 12. Drama as a Mode of Discourse 13. Silent Films and Talkies 14. The Early Silver Stars. References. About the Author. Index