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A Discourse on Nāṭya (Indian Drama): Origin, Development and Technicalities

Gargi Bhattacharya

‘Nāṭya’ has achieved the prestigious rank of Veda in Indian civilization. The term ‘nāṭya’ in Indian tradition
signifies the mimic representation of particular characters or situations. Origin of this performance-based art
can be traced back in the ancient socio-cultural activities. Rituals, festivals, dance etc. are identified as the
basic sources of Indian drama that have also helped to evolve it. Different pedagogies regarding the origin and
development of Indian drama are discussed in the first part of the paper, while the later part is dedicated to
explore the theatrical representation of ancient Indian drama as told in the ancient scriptures like Bharata’s
Nāṭyaśāstra. The technicalities like ‘abhinaya’, dialogue, plot, stage, make-up, properties that are the essential
issues to transform any literary texts to theatre are the key focus of this paper. Apart from the entertainment
factor, the legacy of Indian ‘nāṭya’ has a unique appeal beyond the limitation of social division and conveys a
message of harmony as one of the strongest mediums for mass education.

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