Nautanki (Hindi: नौटंकी) is a famous folk theater and operatic drama form, popular in northern India especially in Uttar Pradesh. Before the advent of cinema in India, it was the most popular form of entertainment prevalent in these areas. Usually a nautanki consisted of folklore and mythological dramas with interludes of folk songs and dances. Now it has taken other forms. In many areas it has been restricted only to female dance shows. Consequently, this art is losing popularity and goodwill among admirers day by day.
Nautanki has its origins in the folklore of North India about a princess with incomparable beauty who was so delicate to weigh only as much as a flower. This folklore took the shape of a drama then known as sangeets (musicals) by the name, Nautanki Shehzadi ("The Story of Princess Nautanki"), soon it became so popular that the name became that of the genre itself. The word, nautanki, comprises two words, nau meaning "nine" and tank referring to a "silver coin weighing four grams", and thus metaphorically implies that the graceful princess weighs only 36 grams (9 X 4 grams).
- Grounds for play: The Nautanki theatre of North India, by Kathryn Hansen. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.
- Saangit, ek lok natya parampara, by Ram Narayan Agrawal. Delhi, India: Rajpal and Sons, 1976.
- Nautanki overview
- Nautanki Indian theatre: theatre of origin, theatre of freedom, by Ralph Yarrow. Published by Routledge, 2001. ISBN 070071412X. Page 84.
- Hansen, Kathryn. Grounds for Play: The Nautanki Theatre of North India. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1992 1992. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft9v19p2qq/