Popular Traditional Nautanki Storylines
Syah-Posh (Paq Mohabbat): One of the romantic Nautankis, depicting the true love between Gabru, a handsome young merchant from Central Asia, and Jamal, the daughter of the wazir (prime minister) of Roome (present day Turkey). One day, when Gabru is on a business trip to Roome, he passes under Jamal's palace and hears Jamal reading the quran, but in the wrong way. He asks her to correct her reading. This upsets Jamal and she asks him who he is. Gabru introduces himself and offers to teach Jamal the correct way of reading quran. This starts a conversation between them and they both fall in love with each other. Jamal accepts Gabru's offer and invites him to come and teach her quran in the night time, but in secret, and warns him that if he is caught he will be put to death by her father, the wazir. Gabru accepts and starts coming to Jamal's palace every night. As fate would have it, he is caught one night by the kotwal (who actually is the king of Roome incognito) while trying to scale the wall leading to Jamal's palace. The kotwal accuses him of trying to commit a theft and declares that he will be hanged the next day. What happens next is a very intense and engaging tale of love and righteousness, which ends on a happy note for everyone!
Sultana Daku: This Nautanki was written in the early part of the 20th century and depicts the exploits of the notoroius dacoit (thief) Sultana. Sultana was a Robinhood-like bandit who robbed the rich and helped the poor. He became a big symbol of local Indian resistance against British rule in northern India when he could not be caught by the British for many years. This Nautanki is a humorous tale of the cat and mouse chase between Sultana and the British superintendent of police—Freddie Young.
Indal Haran: A popular Nautanki that depicts the exploits of the famous 12th century warrior brothers, Alha and Udal. These two brothers are considered divine human beings in central and northern India. This particular Nautanki is an amazingly engaging tale of romance and bravery, in which a princess from central Asia named Chitralekha falls in love with Indal, the son of Alha, and kidnaps him from the banks of the Ganges during a festival. After facing many hardships, Udal (Indal's uncle) and rescues Indal. The Nautanki ends on a happy note with the marriage of Indal and Chitralekha!
Amar Singh Rathore: This Nautanki is a stimulating tale based on the life of the famous 17th century Rajput warrior Amar Singh Rathore, and gives the message of communal harmony. The Nautanki depicts how some vested inetrests in Shah Jahan's court try their best to destroy the friendship and cooperation between the Rajputs and Mughals, but their attempts are foiled.
Bhakt Puranmal: This Nautanki is based on the the famous story of Puranmal, who was a very good-looking prince from a kingdom situated in the areas around modern day Punjab. Puranmal not only was handsome but also had high moral principles. After the death of Puranmal's mother, his father (who is approaching his old age) decides to marry a young woman. Dissatisfied by her husband, Puranmal's step mother falls for Puranmal and invites him to make love to her. Puranmal politely says that he considers her as his mother. This upsets the stepmother greatly. After her repeated attempts to entice Puranmal fail, she gets very angry and threatens him. Puranmal does not give in to her demands and walks out. Deeply insulted, the stepmother goes to her husband and tells him that Puranmal tried to rape her and he should be put to death. The Nautanki goes on to become a very touching and interesting story which is popular in every household in many parts of northern India.
Harischandra-Taramati depicts the heart-rendering tale of the sacrifices of the legendry king Harishchandra and his wife Taramati in the path of truth. This Nautanki is very famous all over northern, western and central India.