Folk Dramas of Rajasthan
Rajasthan is a hub of folk art, theatre, music, dance and craft. The tribal culture of Rajasthan has done much to preserve and nurture the folk theatre tradition of Rajasthan. Khayal is the most prominent form of folk theatrical form of Rajasthan. Other important folk theatre includes Swang, Phad, Rammat, Nautanki, Bhawai, Gavari etc.
Khayal theatre emerged near about 18th century and remained same in coming 200 years and the subject of Khayal is usually mythological story or an ancient episode. Due to the diversity of culture in Rajasthan, Khayal theatre has different forms in the name of the city, acting style, the community or the author’s name such as:
- Kuchamani Khayal
- Shekhawati khayal
- Jaipuri Khayal
- Ali Bakshi khayal
- Turra Kalangi Khayal
- Kishangarhi Khayal
- Hathrasi Khayal
- Nautanki Khayal
- Tamasha a folk-drama began in Jaipur state during the times of Maharaja Pratap Singh for the first time.
- The Bhatt family of Jaipur included Jaipuri Khayal and Dhrupad Gayaki (style of singing) in Tamasha Theatre.
- The dialogues of Tamasha are poetic in nature and predominantly include music dance and singing
- Tamasha is performed in an open stage called as Akhada.
- This drama originated about 140 years ago in Bikaner region through a folk-poetry competition.
- The characters playing this musical drama are known as Khelar.
- A devotional song in praise of Ramdev ji is usually sung before starting Rammat.
- The main instruments of Ramat are Nagada and Dholak.
- The songs of this drama are mainly connected with Chaumasa, rainy season, Lavani and Ganapati Vandana.
- Mani Ram Vyas, Tulsi Ram, Phagh Maharaj, Sua Maharaj etc. were main Rammat – Writers
- This type of drama is mostly performed in Bikaner, Jaisalmer & Phalodi regions.
- Phad is a life-sketch of Some Lok Devta depicted on a cloth.
- While reciting Phad, Bhopa plays Jantar or Ravanhathha musical instrument.
- Swang theatre is considered its origin near about the 15th century A.D
- The performer of Swang is called Behrupiya.
- Gavari is played as part of festival that continues for 40 days during months of July-August. The hero of Gavari dance is an old man who is supposed to be incarnation of Shiva. Major themes of Gavari are – Devi Ambad, Badshah Ki Sawari and Banjara, Khadaliya Bhoot and fight lion & pig.
Nautanki is performed in the region of Bharatpur, Karauli, Dholpur, Alwar and Gangapur city.
The story plot of the Nautanki is generally based on mythology, historical narrations, folklores, romances and contemporary Socio-Political issues.
- Bhavai folk theatre of Rajasthan is very similar to ‘Swang’ folk theatre and considered its origin near about 13-14th century in Apabhramsa Jain religious verses.
- ‘Abul Fazal’ also mentioned in his book ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ regarding the Bhavai
- Bagha ji was the father of modern Bhawai in Rajasthan.
- Bhawai Natak is presented by Bhopa & Bhopi in the form of Saga Ji and Sagi in the areas of Rajasthan adjacent to Gujrat
- A major play written in Bhawai style is Shanta Gandhi’s – Jasma Oden.
Gandharva: Gandharva are resident of Marwar. Their themes are based on Jain Sect and Anjan Sundari & Maina Sundari is two dramas performed in this style.
Raas Leela: Raas Leela is staged based on stories of Puranas. Leela’s or acts of Krishna are performed and the main character is called Raasdhar.