78 rpm Records of Indian Music: Sorabji Katrak of the New Alfred Company

These songs are part of the early 20th century culture of musical theater in Bombay. The New Alfred Theatre Company was founded in the late 19th century by Kawasji Palanji Khatau to present plays in Gujarati, Marathi and Hindi.

Kavasji belonged to a poor family and lived in the Sankary lane near ‘Dukkar Bazzar’ (pig market) around ‘Dhobi Talao’ area [a place very close to Metro cinema]. Amrut Keshav Nayak was the director of the plays staged. He staged several plays including Murad, Allauddin, Gorakh Dhanda, Mahabharat, Asir-e-hirs, Abhimanu, Chandraval, Harishchandra etc. Alfred company had many owners in 60 years: Nanabhai Rustomji Rana, Mohammad Ibrahim, Manekji Master. Later on Mr. Khatau once again owned it and renamed it as ‘New Alfred Theater Company’. The company was operational until about 1932 with last ownership of Jahangir, son of Mr. Khatau. Along with the Alfred Company, some amateur and professional companies also staged Urdu and Parsi plays and toured to Calcutta and Rangoon in Burma.

Around 1905, many record companies approached these companies and cut discs of songs and dialogues. Beka records, Sun Disc, Gramophone Company, Ramagraph, James Opera cut over 300 songs of renowned artists: Master Mohan, Master Bhagoo, Dayashankar Vasanji, Sorabji Katrak, Ibrahim, Bhurekhan, Meer Himmat Kalu alias Master Himmat, Murad Ali, Phiroz Shah Misrty and many others.


Sorabji Katrak was one of the popular male vocalists from the Alfred Company.

Gujrathi theater was full of actors from Saurashtra, North Gujrath and Mumbai. {snip} Among Parsi’s were: Sorabji Katrak, Sorabji Kerawala, Sorabji Dhondi and Ferdoon Irani.


I am assuming these lyrics are Gujarati — perhaps someone can figure out more?

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