Narayan Shripad Rajahans alias ‘Balgandharva’
1889 --- 1967

Balgandharva inherited his inclination towards music from father, and dramatics from the maternal family.

In 1908, Balgandharva joined Kirloskar Natak Mandli. He acted in ‘Soubhadra’, Tatyasaheb Kolhatkar’s ‘Veer Tanay’, ‘Mook Nayak’, ‘Mativikar’ and ‘Prem Shodhan’.

Solely for the sake of Balgandharva’s sweet, melodious voice Tatyasaheb was tempted to write a musical play.

Kirloskar Natak Mandli produced ‘Manapaman’, a musical play written by Kolhatkar with great pomp and show on 12/3/1911. The musical compositions in this play broke away from the tradition and relying more on classical base of ‘Khyal’; became greatly popular.

In 1913, Balgandharva, Bodas and Tembe broke away from Kirloskar Natak Mandli and set up a new company-Gandharva Natak Mandli on 5/7/1913. Within two months only, on 3/2/1913 ‘Mook Nayak’ was produced. On 10/12/1916 Khadilkar’s musical play ‘Swayamwar’ was enacted on the stage.

The play earned great fame and popularity for Balgandharva. Ram Gadkari’s ‘Ekach Pyala’ also proved to be a great ‘hit’. Gandharva Natak Mandli was burdened by a huge heap of loan because of a disastrous failure of the play named ‘Droupadi’.

By 1926, Balgandharva repaid the entire loan with great efforts. Around 1933, the talking film had made an entry and the fate of the Marathi theater was in doldrums. Balgandharva closed down his drama company on 1/1/1935 and joined films.

But could not put his heart into films. Along with Goharbai, he reappeared on the stage and delighted audiences, filling the vacuum created by Bhaurao Kolhatkar’s absence.

Melodious singing, very good knowledge of rhythm made Balgandarva becomes a legend on the Marathi stage, which had no parallel.


Library of paintings

V.N. alias Bhausaheb Datar joined ‘Social Club’ or ‘Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir’ in 1904. He was a contrator by profession; belonged to a well-to-do family and had a firm, stubborn nature. Once Bhausaheb visited a few art galleries in Delhi. He was astonished by the collections of ancient paintings from the Mughal era. He was inspired to strart a similar gallery in Maharashtra around 1936. Being aware of Maharashtra’s craze for theater, Bhausaheb proposed that Social Club should start its own research wing and collection of pictures and paintings. As research needs patience, finances and hardwork; there was some oppositions from some members of the Club initially. But later, realizing the worth and importance of such research activities; all opposition was withdrawn.

Portraits of all actors, playwrights, producers, directors were collected. It was hoped that such portraits would be donated by general public and would be framed and preserved by the Club. Potraits of all Presidents of all annual national dramatics meets (Marathi Natya Sammelan) were also sought and achieved. 18 Presidents during 1930 to 1935, 107 potraits of theater personalities totalled to 180 portraits or paintings. Eminent people started visiting the Club to watch this wonderful collection. Their remarks and words of appreciation are evident of the importance of the historic collection. The Club has in its possessions photograph albums of old drama companies. The collection is a visual record of the history of the Marathi stage. It now unfolds before your eyes


Bhausaheb Datar mooted the proposal that the Club should have its own full-fledged Library. He was greatly helped by Appa Gokhale. Madhaverao Joshi donated his book collection to the library. 400 English plays till 1935, 300 Marathi plays were collected for the library. Till 1970 the collection rose to 2000 books related to the theater. At present, the library boasts of a collection of 6 thousand books. Many books about the technique of the theater and referance books are also included. Many research students get benefitted by the library. Mr. Mohan Mulay efficiently looks after the library which houses several rare artifacts related to the Marathi theater.


Newspaper clippings

Appa Gokhale used to collect newspaper clippings which published news items related with the Club. Later, the tradition was continued by Bapusaheb Kelkar, Bhaskarrao Patwardhan and now Mohan Mulay. Thousands of such newspaper clippings re-create the history of the Club before your eyes.

T.V. section

Thirty spools of taped plays, music concerts, folk plays, holy recitals (Kirtans), speeches of well-known speakers offer an audio treat to theater lovers.

Rare artifacts related with the t heatre

The Club has a valuable collection of information regarding various drama companies, their activities, performances, advertisements, souvenirs. Hundreds of notes, cuttings, pictures, correspondence, manuscripts, rare old advertisements of plays literally stand testimony to the history of the Marathi theater. This collection of records through various means is a source of knowledge for theater lovers and students. This has been an exceptional and unique task of ‘Social Club’ or ‘Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir’.


History of Marathi Theater:

The tradtion of the Marathi theater consists of ‘Lalit, Tamasha, Gondhal, Bahurupi’s different forms and at last, the Marathi drama.

The tradition began when in 1843 the king of Sangli asked Vishnudas Bhave to transform a Kannada play ‘Seeta Swayamvar’ into Marathi and present it on stage. Vishnudas Bhave kept up the same profession of performing plays in Sangli, Mumbai and Pune till 1861. The plays in Bhave’s times and style followed a particular pattern. They would begin with holy prayer-like music and songs, followed by the entry of Lord Ganapati and Goddess Saraswati, which was followed by the play, which presented a story or a plot. This Bhave style of plays continued for long. They can be called musical plays as music played a major role in the whole presentation. The main comperer or ‘Sutradhar’ had to sing throughout the performance. Later, Sokar Bapuji Trilokekar cut down the Comperer’s singing and let other characters also sing. This brought welcome and entertaining variations for the audience. In 1879, S.B.Trilokekar produced ‘Nal Damayanti’-a prose-cum-musical play named ‘Harishchandra’.

Bookish plays

After the Vishnudas Bhave era, around 1861, universities were set up in Maharashtra and English education was being imparted in the state and people started turning towards bookish plays. As works of Shakespeare, Kalidasa were being read, their performances were also staged. Sanskrit and English plays were being transformed into Marathi and were performed. Writers also wrote new plays of their own in Marathi, which enriched the Marathi theater considerably.

The drama company called Aryoddharak Natak Mandli was mainly responsible for presenting bookish plays. Some of them were ‘Veni Samhar’, ‘Othello’, ‘Tara’, ‘King Lear’, etc. Shankarao excelled greatly while playing the role of Iago in ‘Othello’. These bookish plays brought about a lot of improvement in costumes, settings lighting etc. Shahu Nagar Wasi Natak Mandli was the most popular drama company, performing bookish plays. The play ‘Tratika’, based on Shakespeare’s, ‘Taming of the Shrew’, was greatly humorous. Along with, Prof.Vasudevrao.Kelkar and Shankar.Moro.Ranade’s drama company performed bookish plays.

In the meantime, social and historical plays also appeared on the Marathi stage. Govind.N.Madgaonkar published his ‘Vyavaharopyogi Natiak’ (Practical theater) in 1859. ‘Thorle Madhavrao Peshwe’ will have to be mentioned as the first historical play, which was written by V.J.Kirtane. Bookish plays certainly made the Marathi theater richer.

Bharat Natya Samshodhan Mandir has been doing pioneering work of maintaining a very valuable and rare record of the Marathi theater, thousands of personalities who have been associated with it in different capacities, their detailed documentation in the form of books, pictures, photographs, films, tapes etc. The Club has got a most precious collection of all these artifacts.


Bookish Plays
Library of paintings
Newspaper Clippings
T.V. Section
Rare artifacts related with the theater
Legends of Marathi theater
Vishnudas Bhave

Balwant Pandurang alias
Anna Saheb Kirloskar

Moroba Wagholikar

Balkoba Natekar

Bhaurao Kolhatkar

Shripad Krishna Kolhatkar

Nanasaheb Joglekar

Narayan Shripad Rajahans alias ‘Balgandharva’

Keshavrao Bhosale

Krishnaji Prabhakar alias Kakasaheb Khadilkar

Govind Ballal Deval

Ganpatrao Joshi

Y.N. alias Appa Tipnis

Ganpatrao Bodas
Master Dinanath Mangeshkar
Madhavrao Joshi

Veer Wamanrao Joshi

Ram Ganesh Gadkari
Dinkar Dhere (Kamanna)
Acharya Pralhad Keshav Atre
Chhota Gandharva
Nanasaheb Shirgopikar
Rambhau Kundgolkar alias Swai Gandharva
Janubhau Nimkar
Mama Varerkar
Bal kolhatkar
Jayram Shiledar
Prabhakar Panshikar
Yashawant Datt
This site is Best Viewed with 1024 X768 Resolution with window maximize.