Nautanki is one of the well known and most popular folk operatic theatre performances particularly in Northern India and also in South Asia. Nautanki was more popular as a way of entertainment for the population as there was no mode of watching cinema in villages and towns of Northern India.
Nautanki has originated from Saangit, Bhagat, and Swang musical theatre traditions of Northern India. One Saangit called Saangit Rani Nautanki had become so much popular that the whole genre’s name became Nautanki.
Nautanki dances are based on popular folk themes that consist of romantic tales mythology or biographies of local heroes. Some themes are Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra. It is also based on sentiment against British rule and feudal landlords found expression in Nautankis such as Sultana Daku, Jalianwala Bagh, and Amar Singh Rathore and much more all these people were famous in olden days somewhere in middle of the 20th century.
Even now in the rural area of north India Nautanki performance can make 10,000 to 15,000 people to gather and watch Nautanki. But now due to changes in the lifestyle and the importance of the traditions of India the Nautanki has been badly affected even the political pressure has put the Nautanki behind. Nautanki performance was done mostly in open places in playgrounds or in the open areas in the villages.
There are no particular costumes for the Nautanki performers; they actually wear the dress that describes their characters in the play like if someone is playing the role of a Landlord than he is supposed to wear costly dresses with jewelry made up of pearls, so as to appear like one of the landlords. It all depends upon the role and situation and the financial condition of the Nautanki team.
At present many new Nautanki has been made by Devendra Sharma These Nautankis are based on different contemporary social messages such as health, HIV/AIDS, women’s empowerment, dowry, immigration, and family planning, poverty and many more. These new Nautankis last only for 1-2 hours, unlike the Nautankis in the olden ages which used to last whole night.
Nautanki has become famous not only among Indian people but also among the foreign population. These networks can be traditional or contemporary. The famous and frequently performed traditional Nautankis are Syah-Posh (Pak Mohabbat), Sultana Daku, Indal Haran, Amar Singh Rathore, Bhakt Puranmal, and Harischandra-Taramati. Whereas contemporary ones are Mission Suhani, Subah ka Bhoola, Behkaani and Muskaani, and Beti by all of these contemporary Nautankis are written by Pandit Ram Dayal Sharma.
All about Nautanki performance, we can say the attraction and the interest in watching Nautanki arises from the way the melodic exchanges are done between two or three performers.
Thus, all we could conclude that Nautanki is one way of getting entertainment and social knowledge too, and is a pleasure for our eyes that we able to watch those stories which would have never thought.