Prahasana, vīthī, and bhāṇa tickle the insides of the connoisseurs in different ways. Vīthī portrays the commotion, transactions, and humour that take place on the streets of cities. A prahasana may either caricature the base tendencies of important men in the society or may delineate the shallow mannerisms of gamblers, prostitutes, and the like; prahasanas may employ all kinds of vulgar words and mannerisms and may satirically portray the peaks and valleys of all kinds of humans; they may even poke fun and ridicule the mannerisms and pomp of important people. A bhāṇa has prostitution and brothels at its centre; the characteristics, behaviour, and mannerisms of different kinds of people who visit and stay at brothels are depicted by a solo artiste; it corresponds to mono-acting. The three genres, prahasana, vīthī, and bhāṇa, are thus, rooted in the everyday life of common men, i.e., adhi-bhūta; they portray, realistically, and at times, satirically, the nature of the world; they help connoisseurs introspect upon the positives and negatives of the world.
Nāṭikā is the eleventh among the daśa-rūpakas; while Bharata discusses the features of nāṭikā along with the daśa-rūpakas, in the later treatises, it is classified as an upa-rūpaka. Śṛṅgāra dominates the entire play; the presentation neither has profound elements nor does it abound in vulgar and rustic mannerisms. Śṛṅgāra, presented in a nāṭikā, is nuanced and delicate – it is predominantly the story of the rich and the royal. The emotions portrayed are not deep, but can result in superficial relish of gentle romance. Women of the harem play an important role; the genre is filled with melodious music, dazzling dances and merry excursions to pretty spots – these elements may entertain the eyes and ears of the onlookers. Nāṭikā swings between adhyātma and adhi-bhūta with a greater emphasis on the latter.
We can, indeed, sense the breadth and depth of the theatre tradition of India, when we examine the genres mentioned above. Upon diving deep into the genres, one cannot help but feel sincere gratitude to the master aesthetician – Bharata and the divine land – Bhārata.
Abhinava-gupta, Sāgara-nandī, Hemacandra, Rāmacandra-Guṇacandra, Bhoja, Śāradā-tanaya, Siṃha-bhūpāla, Viśvanātha, Vidyānātha, and other aestheticians, who belong to the period after Bharata, have discussed many genres of upa-rūpakas. Though the seed of the upa-rūpakas is ancient, their forms got crystallized later; these sub-genres of drama (and dance) adapted themselves to the needs of the space and time in which they were practiced. While nāṭya (theatrical elements) dominate the daśa-rūpakas, nṛtya and nṛtta (dance elements) play important roles in the upa-rūpakas; therefore, the upa-rūpakas pay more importance to music and dance, as against characterisation and story-telling; they may not even have a prominent storyline. Upa-rūpakas are usually ekahārya presentations, i.e., a single artiste enraptures the audience. They also reflect region tastes, flavours, and preferences. The upa-rūpakas can be said to be deśī (regional) adaptations of the mārga put forth in the daśa-rūpakas; while mārga relates to the universal and captures the entire Bṛhad-bhārata, upa-rūpakas uphold regional flavours; mārga can be called tattva-sākṣātkāra – realisation of the common spirit, while deśī is the abhivyakti-nivedanā, i.e., the regional application and expression. These characteristics help us realise that the experiential philosophy of the mārga and creative application of the deśī result are nothing but the svarūpa and rūpa of all Indian arts. The two work together to evoke Rasa; oblique expression, leads to dhvani, which results in the Rasa-experience.
The number of upa-rūpakas also varies across texts. The difference in number, in fact, reflects the diversification in theatrical presentations that took place with time. In fact, the exact number is immaterial and numbers only reflect variety in taste. Treatises such as the Kāmasūtra, Kāvyādarśa, and Kāvyālaṅkāra (of Bhāmaha) talk about hallīsaka, nāṭya-rāsaka, prekṣaṇaka, and other important genres of upa-rūpakas. Many literary works and śāstras describe carcarī, dvipadī, rāsaka, skandhaka, lāsya, chalika(ta), śamyā, śamyā-rāsaka, and other forms; such documentations, indeed, indicate the antiquity and the geographical spread of the upa-rūpakas. Let us now take a look at a few genres in brief –
- Śrīgadita – This genre delineates the vipralambha-śṛṅgāra of a kulāṅganā – a lady of noble birth. It is presented by a solo artiste and is thus, ekahārya. The heroine shares her feelings for her beloved to a (invisible) sakhī; this resembles the pada-varṇa that is in vogue in Sadir-dāsiyāṭṭam today. The name of the genre appears to suggest that it is the story of Śrī, i.e., Devī Lakṣmī, who is craving for the company of her beloved, Nārāyaṇa. Some aestheticians also call this genre by the names sidgaka, siṅgaka, and śilpaka.
- Durmilikā – The genre captures the secret affair of a ceṭī and the presentation is filled with humour. It would not be wrong to call this the ancestor of padams and jāvalīs of the later period. While śrīgadita presents the vipralambha-śṛṅgāra of an uttama-nāyikā, durmilikā presents the saṃbhoga-śṛṅgāra of a madhyama-nāyikā or an adhama-nāyikā. The word durmila means a romantic union achieved in secrecy, through deceit.
This series of articles is authored by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh and have been rendered into English with additional material and footnotes by Arjun Bharadwaj. The article first appeared in the second edition of the anthology Prekṣaṇīyaṃ, published by the Prekshaa Pratishtana in December 2022.
 Bharata and other aestheticians identify two kinds of prahasanas – śuddha and saṅkīrṇa. In a śuddha-prahasana, the main characters may include brāhmaṇa, saṃnyāsi, śramaṇaka, kāpālika, and bauddha-bhikṣu amongst others (Example: Mattavilāsa-prahasana); in a saṅkīrṇa-prahasana, veśyā (prostitute), kuṭṭinī (bawd), napuṃsaka (eunuch), dhūrta (rogue), dyūtakāra (gambler), and other base characters play primary roles. (Example: Hasyārṇava). The treatise Daśa-rūpaka by Dhanañjaya also mentions a third category called vikṛta; this kind of prahasana may have all kinds of characters and the playwright has absolute freedom. Abhinava-gupta mentions that a prahasana of one act is sometimes referred to as śuddha and that of two acts is called saṅkīrṇa; Viśvanātha says that a prahasana that depicts only one dhūrta as the main character is called śuddha, while many dhūrtas constitute the saṅkīrṇa kind; he also refutes the existence of the category called vikṛta. It appears that these categories are not very important in practice and have largely not been followed by ancient playwrights. In fact, one can say that the degree of vulgarity determines and defines the categories – śuddha-prahasana presents healthy and clean humour, while saṅkīrṇa-prahasana presents vulgar humour. Perhaps, since such strict adherence was not possible, newer categories called vikṛta and miśrīkṛta emerged in the later days. Aestheticians say that thirteen vīthyaṅgas need to occur in a prahasana. See the appendix on vīthyaṅgas
 According to an anonymous reference in the Daśarūpakāvaloka (commentary by Dhanika on the treatise Daśarūpaka), the number of upa-rūpakas is seven. The Abhinava-bhāratī does not mention a specific number and discusses several kinds. The Śṛṅgāra-prakāśa describes fourteen upa-rūpakas in detail. The Agni-purāṇa documents seventeen while Bhāva-prakāśana speaks about twenty upa-rūpakas. Viśvanātha in his Sāhitya-darpaṇa discusses eighteen upa-rūpakas. In the current essay, sixteen upa-rūpakas have been discussed, deriving from the works of Abhinava-gupta and Bhoja-rāja. Following this, nāṭikā (also expounded by Bharata), toṭaka, saṭṭaka, preṅkhaṇa, śilpaka, saṃlāpaka, vilāsika and prakaraṇikā are described in accordance with the view of Viśvanātha. Mallikā, kalpavallī, and pārijātaka are discussed in the current essay keeping in mind Śāradā-tanaya’s definitions. The approach taken by Viśvanātha and to some extent by Śāradā-tanaya does not appear to be rooted in practice and experience – they appear like routine definitions; the descriptions provided by Viśvanātha are, in fact, quite strange; similar is the case with Dhanañjaya, the author of the treatise titled Daśa-rūpaka
 Some authorities also say that the lyrical composition that accompanies śrīgadita has repeated occurrences of the word śrī. Today, some kūcipūḍi dancers also recognize śrīgadita as the inspiration for the compositions of bhāmā-kalāpam and the like.