6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

From political narratives to epic stories to cultural tales, these Indian plays have captured the attention of theatre enthusiasts globally.

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

'Yayati' clinched the Mysore State Award

Some writers and their works are like towering pillars in the wide landscape of Indian plays, influencing the very soul of the art form.

From historical complexities to existential dilemmas, each play provides a different trip into the depths of human experience and social reflection.

These writers skillfully traverse the intricacies of identity, power, and the never-ending search for meaning via colourful characters and gripping plots.

Come along as we explore the ageless ideas and lasting genius of some of the most well-known works of Indian theatre, delving into its complex fabric.

Ebong Indrajit by Badal Sarkar

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Ebong Indrajit, an absurdist play by Badal Sarkar, unfolds in 60s Calcutta, centring on a playwright crafting a new work.

The protagonist discovers his characters in four college students: Amal, Kamal, Vimal, and Indrajit.

While three conform to societal norms of education, marriage, and employment, Indrajit rebels against such conventions.

Indrajit, disillusioned and uncertain of his purpose, grapples with existential questions and struggles to comprehend love, particularly with Manasi.

His inner conflicts hinder the playwright’s ability to shape a coherent narrative for the play.

The cyclical nature of existence confounds both Indrajit and the writer, leaving them unable to define beginnings or endings.

As Indrajit’s existential crisis intensifies, it disrupts the playwright’s creative process, blurring the lines between reality and fiction.

The play becomes a reflection of Indrajit’s inner turmoil, posing profound questions about truth, reality, and the nature of art.

Tughlaq by Girish Karnad

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq is a powerful political drama.

It dives into the complexities of power, idealism, and governance.

Set during the reign of the 14th-century Delhi sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the play explores themes of ambition and betrayal.

Its sharp dialogue, nuanced characters, and historical backdrop have earned it international acclaim.

Hayavadana by Girish Karnad

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Another masterpiece by Girish Karnad is Hayavadana.

The play is a thought-provoking exploration of identity, desire, and the human condition.

Inspired by Indian mythology, particularly the story of the horse-headed deity Hayagriva, the play weaves together elements of comedy, tragedy, and existential inquiry.

Its universal themes have resonated with audiences worldwide.

Girish Karnad was honoured with India’s highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award, in 1998.

Ghashiram Kotwal by Vijay Tendulkar

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Vijay Tendulkar’s Ghashiram Kotwal is a landmark play in Indian theatre.

The performace is known for its bold exploration of power, corruption, and moral decay.

Set in the 18th-century city of Pune, the play follows the rise and fall of Ghashiram, a low-caste man who becomes the ruthless Kotwal (police chief) of the city.

Its searing critique of authority and exploitation has earned it international acclaim.

Yayati by Girish Karnad

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Girish Karnard’s 1960 debut play, Yayati, clinched the Mysore State Award in 1962.

Adapted from a Mahabharata tale, it portrays Yayati, ancestor of the Pandavas, cursed with premature old age by his father-in-law due to infidelity.

Redemption hinges on someone swapping youth; his son Pooru steps up, leading to a poignant exploration of the ensuing crisis and dilemmas faced by Yayati, Pooru, and Pooru’s spouse

The Mahabharata by Peter Brook 

6 Famous Indian Plays Performed Across the World

Peter Brook’s iconic adaptation of the Indian epic The Mahabharata is a landmark in global theatre.

A sweeping epic brought to life on stage, the production spans multiple continents and languages, blending Western and Indian theatrical traditions.

Its timeless tale of honour, duty, and the human condition.

The tale of two rival clans is told in this theatrical rendition of the Indian epic poem and play that followed.

The Pandava brothers and the Kauravas clash because both tribes believe they are descended from gods and should be in charge.

The deity Krishna informs the eldest Pandava, Yudhishthira, that becoming king is his destiny.

Additionally, Arjuna, his brother, is a skilled fighter. Is war, however, unavoidable? Krishna acts ambiguously.

One thing is evident as we conclude our investigation into Indian theatre: its persistent capacity to arouse emotion, spark imagination and encourage thinking.

Every play, from Peter Brook’s expansive epics to Badal Sarkar’s introspective reflections, challenges viewers to consider some of life’s most important issues.

These shows emphasise the craft and skill of Indian theatre and playwrights alike.

They provide examples of theatric marvels and highlight the enormous influence India has had on this medium.

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

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