wiki:Company Natak

Version 5 (modified by UshaR, 11 years ago) (diff)


Company Natak

Popular theatre movement in late 19th C. Karnataka, predominantly around the Mysore court, contemporaneous with similar movements in Telugu (cf. Surabhi Theatres) and Tamil (see TKS Brothers). Performed as night-long shows by travelling groups in tents, it evolved from the Yakshagana folk theatre and its variants, Dashavtara and Bailatta, and helped codify the mythological. Gubbi Veeranna’s company was its best-known exponent. The form assimilated aspects of Parsee theatre (e.g. versions of Gul-e-Bakavali and Indrasabha) and Sangeet Natak. As a folk-inspired genre, it allowed for a freewheeling, open-ended adaptation of speech and musical modes: Veeranna writes of using Urdu and pidgin Hindi phrases in Kannada texts while the numerous songs, using over 50 verses as bases for improvisation, could be accompanied by pedal-harmonium and claviolin as well as the traditional tabla, violin and sota. In the early 20th C., direct sponsorship from feudal élites helped imbue the form with a caste-conscious classicism usually signified by a recourse to translations of Sanskrit texts (e.g. Kalidasa) and Shakespeare, paralleling the increased emphasis on classical Bharat Natyam gestures in Yakshagana dance and dialogue-delivery, and on Carnatic music in the songs. In the late 30s some of the major groups moved into film, following Veeranna’s Gubbi Co. which converted its stage hits into the first Kannada films. Mohammed Peer’s Chandrakala Nataka Co. yielded two major 60s Kannada film-makers, H.L.N. Simha and B.R. Panthulu?, while the Sahitya Samrajya Nataka Mandali run by film-maker R. Nagendra Rao? and M.V. Subbaiah? Naidu converted their hit plays Yachhamanayika and Bhukailasa (1938, 1940) into successful films. The Company Natak provided virtually all the major talent for the early Kannada film, e.g. Honnappa Bhagavathar?, megastar Rajkumar, B. Jayamma? and K. Ashwathamma? as well as scenarists B.N. Sastry? and B. Puttaswamaiah. It defined the economic distribution infrastructure for a regional film industry and, crucially, paved the way for the political use of the mythological and the historical genres (see A.N. Krishnarao?, Rajkumar and G.V. Iyer?).