DER Documentary

Tragada Bhavai: A Rural Theater Troupe Of Gujarat

by Roger Sandall and Jayasinhji Jhala
color, 20 min. 1981




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Bhavai is the traditional rural theater of Gujarat. Today there are only a few troups of Bhavai performers in India. This film follows one troup as it travels throughout the countryside, performing in villages for audiences of the poor Koli caste. Audience and performers are entirely male, and actors impersonate female roles. A typical Bhavai evening includes a miracle play, comic skits, dances and juggling and, finally, a romantic drama set in medievel times. The film shows "backstage" preparations, negotiations with sponsoring villagers, interviews with actors and the troupe leader, as well as the performance itself.


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