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Gujarati theatre has a rich history and tradition with prosperous tradition of writing and performing Sanskrit theatre till the fourteenth century, when a folksinger of religious narratives, Asaita Thakar, start on a participatory form called Bhavai using mythological and historical themes and characters, creating awareness among audiences on social issues. Types of Gujarati theatre is more than 150 years old and has produced many actors, directors and writers with tremendous talents.


Modern Gujarati Theatre

In the late 1980s, the Parsi dramatic companies laid the foundation of modern Gujarati theatre. These theatre companies brought western techniques and themes as well as music to form a renewed vernacular theatre. Thus, the original plays like “Kumar Ki Chhat Par” and “Kahat Kabira” by renowned playwrights like Madhurai, Vinayak Purohit, Shiv Kumar Joshi and others were revived.
In the centenary year of the 1857 uprising, the Indian National Theatre staged a Gujarati play “Bharelo Agni”. It is regarded as a landmark for the non-professional Gujarati Theatre. One of the most versatile Gujarati actresses is Sareeta Joshi, who has dominated in the new Gujarati Theatre for the longest tome. One more talented Gujarati dancer and actress is Mallika Sarabhai, who made her name for the role of Draupadi in the world famous playwright Peter Brooke’s “Mahabharata”.

In the 21st century, the cinema and the TV have taken over the field of entertainment. But the Gujarati theatre has not lost its charm yet. Sometimes the flow of the plays has slowed down and sometimes changes are done to match with the tastes of the audiences. But the Gujarati Theatre has survived along with the new style. Amol Palekaris one of the recent actors cum filmmaker from Gujarat, who has also tried to revive the Gujarati theatre. “Paheli” is a film by Amol Palekar, which is based on the local folklores. The Gujarati theatre has also marked its place in the World Theatres through its colourful representation of the plays.


Modern Gujarati Theatre Personalities

The new Gujarati Theatre started to write plays on the great novels and dramas of Gujarati literature with the arrival of CC Mehta. Few of them are “purandar parajay”, “avibhakt atma”, “putra samovadi”, “tarpan”, “be kharab jan” and “kakani shashi”. The celebrated Gujarati novelist Kanaiyalal Munshi authors all these plays. In the time period of 1930 to 1970, many of the dramatists and scholars worked for the development of the new Gujarati theatre. Few of them are, Jayshanker Sundari, Rashiklal Parikh, Jayanti Dalal, Krishnalal Shreedharani, Dhansukhlal Mehta, Jyotindra Dave, Gunvantrai Acharya, Manubhai Pancholi – Darshak, Jashvant Thakar, Dhananjaya Thakar, Goverdhan Panchal, Jayanti Patel, Shivkumar Joshi, Chunilal Madia, Markand Bhatt, Pranajivan Pathak, Paramsukh Pandya, Yeshvant Pandya, Durgesh Shukla, Indulal Gandhi, Batubhai Umarwadia, Raghuvir Chowdhary, Bhaskar Vora, Chinu Modi, Labhshanker Thakar, Hasmukh Baradi and many others.
The new Gujarati Theatre has got some of the finest actors like Deena Gandhi – Pathak, Anasuya Sutaria, Nalini Mehta, Jashvant Thakar, Dhananjay Thakar, Krinalal, P. Khasrani, Kailash Pandya, Markand Bhatt, Urmila Bhatt, Pranasukh Nayak, Jyoti Vaidya and many others.

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