Nautanki is one of the popular art forms of South Asia, particularly North India. At one time, Nautanki was one of the biggest entertainment medium among villages and towns. Nautanki is acting and singing. Nakkara, a percussion instrument is used to announce the start of the performance.
Nautanki art form is rich in music and humor with an entertaining storyline. Saangit, Bhagat and Swang musical theaters in Northern India were the origin points of Nautanki. It is a style similar to operas and based on popular folk themes. Romance, Mythology, Biographies of local heroes were depicted in the Nautanki art forms.
The performance can take place in open space and closed theatres. Usually open spaces were preferred to accommodate hundreds and thousands of audience. Locally available materials were used to construct stages and lanterns and petromaxes were used for lighting. The performance usually starts late in the night and go all night until sunrise on the next morning.
Nautanki reached the pinnacle of its glory during early 20th century. There were a number of Mandalis (groups) performing Nautanki. Its form and content progressed very fast and became more professional.