Thursday, August 11, 2022
Madhya Pradesh


:A play opens late in the evening with an invocation of gods and goddesses by the players. It begins quite often with a tribute to the founder of the Maanch mandal (group) and the script-writer. This is followed by verses in praise of Saraswati (the goddess of learning), Ganesh, Bherun, Chousath Jogin ( The sixty-four nuns) etc. The songs are rendered by the entire cast standing with folded hands on the stage.

Then comes the Chopdar to introduce the story. Prior to that, he summons the Bhisti (water carrier) to sprinkle water on the ground. He is followed by the Farrasan who is supposed to spread a carpet. They represent in mime their respective functions and prepare the stage for the performance. Both the Bhisti and the Farrasan run on their performance for more than an hour singing several songs.

The Chopdar has to perform an important role before the actual play starts. He invites the actors on the stage and introduces them with a few introductory words to the audience. The dialogues in the Maanch always end with the refrain line which is sung by the performers, standing together either in the corner of the stage or arranging themselves near the instrumentalists. Here dholak plays a vital part. The orchestra repeats the dramatic verse and enables the actor to dance in circles at the conclusion of each couplet. The dholak has its own style and forms the base of typical folk music of the region. The sarangi is used to produce orchestral effects.

The presentation technique of the Maanch, its thematic elements, efflorescent musical fabric and gaudy costumes have a rich tradition. Actors are free to move during the performance. There are no rigid rules and stage formalities. They sometimes even sit amongst the audience when there is no work on stage. Sometimes the characters do not leave the platform at all. They just go a few steps backward and wait for their turn. Certain characters make their entry ceremoniously from a distance often walking through the audience.

Musical Content

In Maanch the dialogues are set to different tunes called Rangat Dohas. It is the musical sense that permeates the entire structure. The couplets are sung in three styles namely, Ikhari Rangat, Dokadi Rangat and Langdi Rangat. The intact melody of Jhela is introduced in between the Dohas, whenever the singing pattern needs a change. Each couplet or single unit of dialogue ends with a fixed refrain sung in chorus.

The scale of tal is strictly followed in dholak while the sarangi follows the singer in normal course. There are about two dozen tunes often utilised in Maanch. Rangat Ikhari, Rangat Dokadi, Kaligara Rangat, Jhela, Chhoti Rangat, Sindhu Badhawa, Udayya etc. are some of the known varieties. Haloor ends with a phrase called Mahara Raj. Gazal is also used. It is a separate metre sung in a quick tempo

In Maanch, the opening block of lines is called Ger, i.e. the beginning and the lines that follow are known as Udapa. Daur is the word for quick singing. The words are heard only in between the dialogues concluding with the leading lines. Folk tunes are utilised at proper situations in the play. A definite tune of Maanch cuts across the whole play. It has its own identity. A kind of gusto and abundance is attached to it.


The costumes used in Maanch are locally prepared. Each character actor has a set of familiar clothes. The main character has to wear more attractive angarkha or a long coat with multi-hued safu, adding Kaldi to it. He enters the stage with an aura of dignity. Women's roles are enacted by male actors. Spectators do not mind whether she has moustaches and masculine angles.

These actors adequately use the stage. They move in conventional styles speaking or singing their dialogues while at every movement the dholak is at work. Their facial expressions and physical gestures of hands and feet always give dramatic impact upon the audience.