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Natya Sangeet

Natya Sangeet is a kind of Indian semi-classic and classic music. Natya Sangeet means Dramatic Music and the staged musical dramas are known as Sangeet Natak. Natya Sangeet also happens to be one of the forms of vocal arts in the state of Maharashtra as well as its neighboring states. The other popular form of vocal art is Bhavageet.


Natya Sangeet is believed to have taken birth in the 19th century in Maharashtra. In medieval times, music was solely the cartel of the rich, aristocratic and royalty of India. Common people were barred from enjoying classical music. Natya Sangeet emerged essentially so that the common man could also understand classical music and enjoy the classical base. The key difference between Natyageet and Bhavageet is that the latter stresses more on words while the former gives a lot of significance to Raga.

In the year 1979, producer and play writer Trilokekar individually presented a musical play titled Nal-Damayanti for the Marathi audience. This was the first ever musical play to be presented on a Marathi stage. In the years to follow, Balwant Pandurang Kirloskar, popularly known as Annasaheb Kirloskar, presented his first ever musical play titled Shakunta on 31st October 1880. The play was inspired from Kalidas’s play, Abhijñānaśākuntalam.

The Growth

The trend of Sangeet Natakas became quickly popular as people started patronizing it on a large scale. At that time, British Raj ruled in India. Sangeet Natakas were heavily compared to the western Operas and thus, this gave birth to a tantamount form of recreation for the Marathi Indians. In their blooming period, Sangeet Natyas were primarily inspired from mythological stores from Ramayana or Mahabharata. Thus, these stories could easily find a connect with the local Marathi masses. Sangeet Natyas did not depict the entire epic tales. Instead, they were rather restricted to sub-stories from the main epic.

With their growing success and popularity, various dramatists started experimenting with Sangeet Natyas on the stage and mythological themes and plots were slowly pushed into oblivion. These new Sangeet Natyas were based on social issues which made audiences aware of the various issues around theme.

One such example is the Sangeet Sharada. Sangeet Sharada portrayed the emotions of a young, teenage girl who was to tie the knot with an old widower. This Natya Sangeet portrayed a social message. There were some natyas like Kichak Vadh which caused much agony to the British rulers. They were so agitated that they banned the dramas. In Kichak Vadh, the British ruler was compared to an evil character from Mahabharta, Kichak. Kichak had attempted at maligning the reputation of Draupadi. During those times, Draupadi represented the oppressed and harassed masses of India at the hands of the Britishers.

Natya Sangeet Genius

Narayana Shripad Rajhans, popularly called Bal Gandharva was one of the most iconic Marathi stage actors and singers. Gandharva was renowned for his portrayal of female characters in various Marathi plays. He essayed the role of women characters since women were barred from participating in stage plays during that time.

Bal Gandharva began his stage career under the mentorship of Annasaheb Kirloskar and first joined his theater company known as Kirloskar Natak Mandali in 1905. This theater company was managed by Nanasaheb Joglekar and Mujumdar. Joglekar died in 1911 and after his demise, the theater actors were not happy with Mujumdar’s manipulative and dictatorial style of functioning.

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