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Empires of LightVision, Visibility and Power in Colonial India$
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Niharika Dinkar

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526139634

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526139641

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Purdah hai purdah!’: proscenium theatre and technologies of illusionism

Purdah hai purdah!’: proscenium theatre and technologies of illusionism

(p.113) 3Purdah hai purdah!’: proscenium theatre and technologies of illusionism
Empires of Light

Niharika Dinkar

Manchester University Press

Countering the predominantly literary analysis of Parsi theatre, this chapter reassesses theatre as the site of many experiments with visual technologies as the proscenium stage introduced a fixed grammar of the curtain into the fluid spaces of premodern performance. Framed like a painting, the stage introduced illusionist painting, directional lighting and lavish costumes to present stories with verisimilitude, enticing viewers into its world. Exploring links between Parsi theatre and Ravi Varma’s paintings, the chapter discusses melodrama as an alternative aesthetic mode that bound viewers and performers. Finally, it proposes limits to the gaze of darshan as a visual trope in analyses of theatre and mythological imagery, arguing that innovative optics of theatre and painting were influenced by and in conversation with technologies of the spectacle within imperial networks.

Keywords:   Parsi theatre, Visual technologies Curtain, Painting, Illusionist painting, Ravi Varma, Melodrama, Darshan

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