Natya Sangeet is a type of musical stage performance that is influenced by classical Indian music. This vocal art is very popular in Maharashtra and involves staging of several musical plays including Draupadi, Sharada, and Vidyaharan. Narayanrao Rajhauns was responsible for development of entire new genre.
The advent of musical plays can be attributed to Annasaheb Kirloskar whose play Sangeet Shakuntal was the stepping stone of Natya Sangeet. These initial plays were influenced by the keertan that were prevalent at that time. The lyrics were short and sweet and the subject matter was derived from day to day life. The lyrics from Sharda, Mrichkatika, and Sanshakallol became idealistic for common people.
New elements of style were introduced in the songs of poets like Joshi, Savarkara and Rangekar. The lyrics of Natya Sangeet now became simplified and more appealing. Major artists that carried musical plays to new heights were Abdul Karim Khan, Jyotsana Bhole, Sawai Gandharava and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Pandit Jitendra did many experiments with his compositions. He created independent compositions, researched a lot on lyrics. The plays of Kirloskar were influenced from Yakshagaan, a folk song of Karnataka. There were influences from Lavani, dindi, and saaki folk styles of Maharashtra and a resemblance to Geet Govind of Jaidev. There was an increase in use of ragas in Natya Sangeet. These ragas included Malhar, Yaman, Malkans, Pahadi, Jayjaywanti, and Jogkans.
Role of companies in promoting this folk art cannot be undermined. It was these companies that produced musical plays, organized shows and protected this valuable heritage. Nutan Mandali, Kirloskar Natak Mandali, Rajaram Sangeet mandali are some of the famous names that are worth mentioning.