Inder Sabha
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Inder Sabha

Inder Sabha (Urdu? ?) is an Urdu play and opera written by Agha Hasan Amanat, and first staged in 1853.[1] It is regarded as the first complete Urdu stage play ever written.[1][2] The play was translated into German in the 1880s as a doctoral thesis at the University of Leipzig by Friedrich Rosen, and published to positive critical reception in 1892.[1][2][3] A movie, Indrasabha, based on the play was released by Madan Theatre in 1932.[4]

The play

The opera is set in the celestial court of Indra, the king of the gods (devas) in Hindu mythology. The play is written entirely in verse, and the central theme is a romance between a prince and a fairy.[5] Operatic devices such as fireworks and masks are employed in enacting the play.[1] Although the play was initially intended to be performed in royal court, songs from the play influenced the geet tradition in Urdu and quickly transitioned into popular culture, where "for at least two generations after that, actors and musicians of Oudh sang the songs of Inder Sabha."[2][6] The play included "31 ghazals, 9 thumri of gaya and bananas gharana, 4 holis, 15 songs and two chaubolas and five chhands with enough scope for dances as well."

The play is considered a seminal work that directly influenced several important nineteenth and early-twentieth century Urdu plays that followed it, including Khadim Husain Afsos's Bazm-e-Suleman (1862), Bahiron Singh Asmat's Jashn-e-Parastan and Taj Mahal Farrukh's Nigaristan-e-Farrukh (1911).[1]


Although it is widely regarded as the first Urdu stage play, there is dispute on how the play came to be created.[7] While some historians have contended that Agha Hasan Amanat was commissioned by Wajid Ali Shah to write it, others (such as Abdul Halim Sharar) have disputed this claim and asserted that it was written entirely independently by Amanat.[7]

Inder Sabha a film with maximum songs

Released in 1932, Indrasabha was one of the earliest sound films made in India, the very next year after Alam Ara, which was the first Indian talkie. It featured over seventy songs and was 211 minutes long. The movie was made by Jamshedji Framji Madan's company, Madan Theatre.[4]Indrasabha holds the world record for the most songs (72) in any musical ever made.[8]


  • Master Nissar
  • Jehanara Kajjan
  • A.R. Kabuli (Abdul Rehman Kabuli)
  • Mukhtar Begum

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Amaresh Datta, The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature, Volume 2, Sahitya Akademi, 2006, ISBN 978-81-260-1194-0, ... some characters used masks and other make up their faces ... Fireworks were used ... published in German by Friedrich Rosen (1856-1935) in Leipzig which evoked considerable interest ... Khadim Husain Afsos's Inder Sabha (Agra, 1862) ...
  2. ^ a b c James R. Brandon, The Cambridge guide to Asian theatre, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-521-58822-5, ... The history of the theatre of modern Pakistan is the history of the Urdu-language theatre which started in 1853 with the composition of Mirza Amanat's Inder Sabha performed at the court of Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh ... for at least two generations after that, actors and musicians of Oudh sang the songs of Inder Sabha ...
  3. ^ Friedrich Rosen. "Die Indarsabh? des Am?nat : neuindisches Singspiel in lithographischem Originaltext." Leipzig: Brockhaus Verlag, 1892.
  4. ^ a b Sangita Gopal, Sujata Moorti, Global Bollywood: travels of Hindi song and dance, University of Minnesota Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8166-4579-4, ... in early experimentations with the technology of sound, narration in films like Indrasabha (The Court of Indra, JJ Madan, 1932) ... It would therefore be gratuitous to say that Indrasabha had seventy-one songs ...
  5. ^ Alison Arnold, South Asia: the Indian subcontinent, Part 2, Taylor & Francis, 2000, ISBN 978-0-8240-4946-1, ... The court poet Agha Hasan ("Amanat") wrote this musical dance drama based on the love story of a fairy and a prince. The drama, entirely in verse, was picked up by Parsi theater companies in Bombay that produced Urdu plays in India ...
  6. ^ Sayyid Mohammad Abdullah, Urd? adab, Maktaba-e-khayaban-e-adab, 1967, ... ? ? . ? ? ? ...
  7. ^ a b The Pakistan review, Volume 8, Ferozsons., 1960, ... Sharar is also opposed to the view that the first Urdu Drama namely Inder Sabha was composed by the order of ... Also, there is a good deal of evidence to show that Inder Sabha was written by Amanat at the behest of Wajid Ali Shah ...
  8. ^ Patrick Robertson, Movie facts and feats: a Guinness record book, Sterling Pub. Co., 1980, ISBN 978-0-8069-0204-3, ... The musical with the most song numbers was Madan Theatres' Indra Sabha (India 32), a Hindi movie with 72 songs. The Hollywood musical with the most songs was Columbia's The Jolson Story (US 46) which had 28 song sequences ...


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