8 Most Memorable Characters from Indian Theatre

Posted on 16 September, 2016 by Team Wishberry

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Indian theatre is filled with monumental characters created by playwrights equally incredible. These characters have been immortalised at one point by certain actors. In fact, so iconic are these characters, that not only are they remembered by audiences year after year, they’ve also gone down in the history books of Indian theatre victorious!

Here is a look at some of them.


Ganpat Belvalkar – Natsamrat

V V Shirwadkar’s Natsamrat is one of the most celebrated plays in Marathi theatre. Based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, the protagonist Ganpat Ramchandra Belvalkar, the Natsamrat, goes through a post-retirement downfall. This strong yet emotional character is every theatre actor’s dream.


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Sakharam – Sakharam Binder

Vijay Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder was banned after a few shows, but its legend continues. The play revolves around Sakharam, who offers refuge to widows and divorced women. In return he takes sexual favours, while promising that he will be completely honest with them, which their husbands weren’t. Tendulkar showed another aspect of society in this play. The character of Sakharam is hardcore, stereotypically masculine and exploitative, which makes it a challenging character to portray. Especially after you know that Nilu Phule has already made a mark with it.


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Krishna – Andha Yug

Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha Yug is said to be Hindi theatre’s landmark play. It ushered in a new era in Hindi theatre and changed playwriting forever. The play was a social commentary on the partition, the wars, and the killings that ensued at the time (it was written in 1954). Krishna talks about how in wars no one wins, but we lose lives and that is the biggest loss humanity can incur. Based on the Mahabharata war, the character of Krishna in the play is the moral centre, and reminds us that ethical and sacred ways are accessible even in the worst of times. Krishna is already a legendary mythological character and with such a spin, it only makes it more memorable.


Miss Benare – Shaantata! Court Chaalu Aahe (Khaamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai)

Due to the circumstances, a stagehand is given a role in a production to be done in a small village. They erect a mock trial to make him understand how the courtroom functions, and what follows is a tale of accusations against Miss Benare and the truth reveals itself. In the form of Miss Benare, the play explores gender discrimination and the society’s obsession with morality and its hypocrisy, thus making this female character the centre of the play. Miss Benare became the microphone of the social issues pertaining to gender at the time, and that made it one of the most important characters not only in Marathi theatre but theatre across the country.


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Image source: thequint.com


Industrialist Madan and three other characters – Sahi Re Sahi

This legendary Marathi comedy play has done rounds of Hindi and Gujarati theatre too. All the four characters played by Bharat Jadhav are hilarious, yet very different from each other. The kind of versatility an actor needs to play all of them, in one play, within a span of two hours is commendable. Dancing from one character to another, jumping costumes, and delivering a stellar performance which makes your audience go gaga over you is the major reason why actors would want to play this one.


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Image source: mumbaipaused.blogspot.com


Either of the clowns – Hamlet, The Clown Prince

Hamlet – The Clown Prince is the second instalment in the Rajat Kapoor’s clown franchise. A bunch of clowns decide to produce and perform Shakespeare’s Hamlet. What follows is their quest to understand the play. As the play progresses they find new meanings, employ gibberish for the parts they don’t understand and try to fit the play in the contemporary world. Performing this comedy of the Shakespearean tragedy is a task. Either of these characters, both from a performance point of view or a viewer perspective are mind-blowing.


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Image source: armchairlounge.com


Chanakya – Chanakya

Chanakya is written by Mihir Bhutia, and directed and enacted by Manoj Joshi. Since its inception in 1990, Manoj Joshi has lived this role, making it an experience to be had as an audience. Chanakya in itself holds importance in the context of Indian history and philosophy. The whole play is designed in a way that it shows the multiple aspects of the philosopher and economist, and that is what makes this particular portrayal special.


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Image source: siliconeer.com


Lakhoba Lokhande – To Mee Navhech

The conman Lakhoba Lokhande tries to prove how the accused is not him in this brilliant courtroom drama. The character shows both sides of standing his ground and the cunningness he possesses. Lokhande also becomes different characters to make solid alibis. That is the beauty of the play - it holds you to your seat through one character and his multiple, temporary personalities. Prabhakar Panshikar truly gave life to Lakhoba Lokhande in a way that it has become immortal.


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This was our list of unforgettable, iconic characters from Indian theatre. Help us make this list better! Tell us what your list looks like!

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