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Alkazi Theatre Archives


20th Century Radio Drama: Contextualizing Intermediality through Radio Drama Criticisms in Theatre Magazines  

The February-March issue 8/9 of Rangabharati (1980) magazine published from Lucknow, carries a report on the radio dramas of 1978. The two articles under this section introduce the readers to the published works of radio playwrights Girish Bakshi and Amritlal Naagar and offer a brief synopsis of each drama. 

Reviewing Girish Bakshi’s radio dramas on the shades of womanhood published in print as ‘Chand Tukde Aurat’, editor Dr. Agyat writes, ‘रेडियो-एकांकी की उठान, सज-धज और पहिचान   ही अलग होती है। उसके अंग-प्रत्यंग को काट-छाँट या तोड़-मरोड़कर बनाये गये रंग-एकांकी का दोगलापन उसे खच्चर की जाति की रचना बना देता है, जो न रेडियो-एकांकी ही रह पाता है और न रंग-एकांकी ही बन पाता है – वैसे ही, जैसे टुकड़े-टुकड़े जोड़कर बनाई गई पूर्ण औरत भी न ‘औरत’ ही रह पाती है, न ‘पूर्ण’ बन पाती है।’ (Pg. 41)

H. R. Luthra in ‘Indian Broadcasting’, gives an overview of the historical development of radio dramas and features in India from 1928 to its growing popularity marked by state sanctioned radio drama writing competitions and festivals in the second half of the 20th century. He identifies the root of this intermedial problem with ‘finding writers who could write for the new medium and could adapt themselves to the special techniques that were needed because such plays had to exclude all visual elements and place the emphasis exclusively on words and sounds. Listeners, on their part, had to bring full concentration to the act and overcome the handicaps of distractions around in the home, where the programme was liable to be interrupted by conversation, household duties and visitors. But it soon became clear that good plays were appreciated and welcomed, the main problem being the dearth of good scripts’ (Indian Broadcasting, 1986). 

Critical writing about radio dramas in theatre magazines sheds light on the debates that emerge from the engagement of theatre with new technologies. How does mediated ‘liveness’ alter the understanding of ‘presence’ in theatre? Inversely, does the absence of physical presence influence the structural formation of an audience as a community?  

20th Century Radio Drama- Contextualizing Intermediality through Radio Drama Criticisms in Theatre Magazines

All Courtesy: Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archive