Before the consolidation of the British Empire in India, theatre was seldom used as a medium of social change but merely served as a form of entertainment for the rulers and was referred as “Manoranjan”. The Modern Theatre in India developed with the advent of the British rule and a change in the political set up in India. The seeds of the Modern Theatre were sown in the late 18th century A.D., with the consolidation of the British power in Bengal, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
It was in the thriving metropolises of Bombay (Mumbai), Calcutta (Kolkata) and Madras (Chennai) that they first introduced their brand of theatre, based on the London models. The early theatre under the British served to provide entertainment for the British soldiers and citizens but soon theatre was geared fully towards themes that were relevant to the common man. The two hundred years of the British rule brought the Indian theatre into direct contact with the Western theatre.
Initially the narratives of dramatic works were composed only in Bengali, Tamil or Marathi, but later plays began to be written in other languages like Kannada, Gujarati, Hindi, Oriya, Urdu and English.