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  • Shubhangi

    Migration, Marriage, and Motherhood - A Close Reading of Bhikhari Thakur’s Selected Plays

    Shubhangi, PhD Research Scholar, English Department, University School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi


    Acclaimed as the Shakespeare of Bhojpuri literature, Bhikhari Thakur (1888-1971) was a playwright, singer, poet, and actor. Despite being denied a formal education, as he belonged to the ‘nai’ (barber) caste, his innate brilliance elevated Thakur to prominence through his groundbreaking plays, including Bidesiya, Beti Viyog, Gabarghichor, and Ganga Snaan, among others.

    Thakur's theatrical oeuvre integrates the elements of ‘naach’ (a kind of musical theatre performance from Bihar) and ‘geet’ (songs, couplets, et cetera), with traditional musical instruments, a harmonious and interactive chorus, razor-sharp, witty dialogues, and an honest but inconsistent adherence to Natyashastra.

    The characters of wives, mistresses, mothers, and mothers-in-law, et cetera, are essential storytelling part in Thakur's plays. Moreover, the cross-dressed performances of the female characters by male actors (naach) add depth and complexity to Thakur's storytelling, providing a unique perspective to the critique of the patriarchal society.

    This paper, hence, aims to study two of Thakur’s seminal works — namely, Bidesiya, and Gabarghichor — and explore the characters of the ‘wife’, the ‘mistress’, and the ‘mother’. The overarching themes of migration, marriage, motherhood, and familial and societal patriarchy will also be addressed and adequately discussed.