In the 19th century, the early Bengali novels lived in two worlds. Many of them were based on the past, with their characters, events and love stories based on historical events. Another group of novels depicted the inner world of domestic life in contemporary settings. The old merchant elite of Calcutta patronised public forms of entertainment such as Kabirlarai (poetry contests), musical soirees and dance performances.
Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay would host a Jatra which is a popular folk theatre form of Bengali theatre.
His first novel Durgeshnandini brought a revolution in Bengali literature. Initially, the Bengali novel used Meyeli, the language associated with women’s speech, but this style was replaced by Bankim’s prose which was Sanskritised and contained more vernacular style.