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.


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 theatre

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'.


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