The concept of theatres in India is known since ancient times. According to some historians the origin of ancient Indian theatre dates back to 2nd century BC. ‘Natya Shahtra’ was the very first book on drama that was written by a saint known Bharat Muni. The book was estimated to be written between 2000 BC and 4th Century AD which proves the essence of drama and theatrics in Indian society. During the ancient period, singing, recitation and dancing was considered an integral part of traditional Indian theatrics. However, with the advancement in time, Indian theatre has evolved a lot.
During early civilizations, Indian theatrics was in a very rudimentary form. Historians have found several evidences which indicate that the cave dwellers from early civilizations used theatrics to express themselves. During second century BC, Sanskrit theatres came into the pictures and people used the medium to get spiritually connected with their religion. Till the end of seventeenth century, Sanskrit theatres remained hugely popular among the masses. The beginning of eighteenth century brought an emotional and expressive contour in form of Indian Classical Dance Drama. On the basis of evolvement of Indian theatrics, historians have classified the history of Indian theatres in three phases.
Theatre in ancient India – The origin of Indian theatres dates to back to Vedic Aryan era. According to the historians, people in Vedic era used theatrics as religious ritualism. The ritual included singing, dancing and playing musical instrument. During the Vedic era Sanskrit was one of the most prominent languages that was used in tradition Indian theatrics. The main objective of Sanskrit theatres was to entertain and educate the people about the religion.
Theatre in medieval India – During the medieval period, the country suffered several invasions and annexation from the Middle East rulers. This led to the fusion of culture, language and tradition in the country. The effect of fusion can also be seen on Indian theatrics which helped in shaping the cultural heritage of the country. In 16th century, Loknatya became one of the popular Indian theatrics which added a fresh enunciation.
The modern Indian theatre – The modern Indian theatre is more inclined toward the political setup. The initiation of modern theatre started with the beginning of British Raj in the country. Under the British rulers, Indian theatrics got hugely influenced with western theatres. People started using songs, dialogues and emotions as a part of theatrics in the country. The outlook of people toward the Indian theatrics also changed drastically. Theatrics slowly became one of the popular concepts in the country. The new evolution changed the pattern in which the drama and skits were organised.
Indian theatrics has always been one of the important parts of life in the country. The saga of Indian theatrics was woven in the fabric of the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the country. In recent years, Indian theatrics has gained immense respect from Indian society and still continuing to grow.