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Harishchandra

(1850—1885) Hindi poet, playwright, and literary editor


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(1850–85) Indian playwright, poet, and publicist. The son of a rich merchant, based in the holy city of Banaras, Harishchandra devoted his wealth and energies to the creation of a literary public sphere and a corpus of literature in modern Hindi. It was for his services in this last cause that he was awarded the title ‘Bharatendu’, Moon of India, by his contemporaries. He edited and wrote prolifically for two literary journals, perfecting the art of short satirical sketches, engaging with the social reform issues of the day such as polygamy and the effects of high-handed colonial legislation. He translated the classical Sanskrit political play Mudrarakshasa (The Minister's Ring) and the nineteenth-century Bengali play Vidyasundar, in addition to the plays of Shakespeare, seeking a synthesis of technique and presentation that could link classical Indian aesthetics to a political and socially engaged dramaturgy. He experimented with a wide variety of forms and conventions through the late 1870s and early 1880s. He wrote religious-romantic plays in the style of the ras lila, such as Chandravali, but, for the most part, his plays were fiercely patriotic, often bitingly satirical.

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From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Theatre.


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