V. Raghavan's Sanskrit Plays

in Module
Published on: 09 November 2020

Nandini Ramani

Nandini Ramani is a senior Bharatanatyam Exponent of the legendary T Balasaraswati and her close associate, dance master K Ganesan. She is trained in Carnatic music with two eminent teachers, Prof B Krishnamurti and Vidushi T Mukta. Nandini was former Secretary of the Madras Music Academy, former Executive Board Member of the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi, and Expert Member of select committees of the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi. She is presently General Assembly Member of the Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR), Govt .of India.

Dr V. Raghavan (1908-79) was a polymath Sanskritist who made several seminal contributions to fields ranging from aesthetic theory, Sanskrit language and literature, music and musicology to dance and Indian heritage in general. He was trained in Sanskrit both in the gurukula parampara and in the modern pedagogic means of the university. The most significant, however, amongst his contributions to aesthetic theory has been his production of Sanskrit plays on stage.

Raghavan adapted several classical Sanskrit plays of Kalidasa in the proscenium format and also wrote several original plays. Kalidasa’s 'Malivikagnimitra', 'Abhijnanasakuntalam' and 'Vikramorvasiya' and Bhavabhuti’s 'Malati Madhava' were some of his highly acclaimed productions. His plays are a unique landmark in Sanskrit dramaturgy as they are distinct from the older and well-established Kutiyattam tradition in Kerala. Music played an essential part in his plays and veterans such as T. Balasaraswati worked on dance choreography. Among his own plays, 'Punarunmesa', a play on India’s cultural renaissance post-Independence, 'Vikmukti' and 'Anarkali', a Sanskrit re-telling of the tale of Salim and Anarkali, are important. Dr Raghavan established Samskrita Ranga in 1958 as a site of incubation for innovations in Sanskrit theatre and to preserve and propagate the language and its works.

This module carries an overview of Samskrit Ranga, the theatre space established by Raghavan, video extracts of two plays, an image gallery and allied articles.