ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Elites and the Disciplining of Bhavai

Bhavai, an ancient form of Gujarati folk-theatre, functioned as a counter-voice in a society marked by caste and class distinctions, by subverting the social norms of the cultural elite. Gradually, the Gujarati elites began intervening to discipline and domesticate it for urban as well as non-urban audiences. Post- Independence, experimental theatre groups too attempted this reconstitution through exoticisation and production of "difference" between the folk and the elite. This paper explores and interrogates the assumption that folk-theatre like the Bhavai can be disciplined and transposed unproblematically to urban and non-urban audiences. Bhavai as folk-theatre is located in a set of temporal and spatial prerequisites. Divested of these conditions Bhavai ceases to be what it is.

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