Maach Folk Theatre of Madhya Pradesh

in Module
Published on: 02 March 2021

Mitali Trivedi

Mitali Trivedi has recently finished her M.Phil in Sociology from University of Delhi, and has been working with Abhigyan Natya Association, a theatre organisation, for over half a decade. Mitali directed her debut film, a short documentary titled 'Please Mind The Gap', produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust.

Since the early eighteenth century, maach, a musical folk theatre form of Madhya Pradesh, has been an integral part of the local culture of the Malwa region. Performed mostly by men who also don female roles, the performance art form uses satirical humour in its songs and dialogues to make pertinent social commentary. 

The term maach is a Malwi translation of the Hindi word manch (stage). It is believed to have originated from the khyal folk theatre of Rajasthan. Maach borrows heavily from the Hindustani classical ragas, and uses folk melodies and instruments, such as sarangi, dhol and harmonium.  

In the long period of its existence, maach has witnessed many sociocultural challenges and adapted to the changing times. However, with the rise of digital platforms and people moving away from communitarian lives, it now requires active efforts of theatre connoisseurs and the government for its preservation and documentation.