n 1958, the Sangeet Natak Akademi took over the Asian Theatre Institute, run by the Bharatiya Natya Sangh. It was renamed the National School of Drama (NSD) and Asian Theatre Institute a year later. But NSD got its soul when Ebrahim Alkazi, with his immense knowledge of art, theatre and literature and dramatic skills acquired at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), took over in 1962. NSD was transformed into a premier theatre training institute under his watch. Jawaharlal Nehru came to see his production of Andha Yug in 1963, when he mounted it in the ruins of the Purana Qila in Delhi.
Its productions, be it student or repertory, have had even leaders like Nehru, Indira Gandhi and L.K. Advani in the audience. Theatre festival Bharangam has in the last 20 years provided a national platform for plays in all Indian languages, motifs, traditions as well as world theatre. Its graduates have ranged from Naseeruddin Shah to Irrfan Khan, the late Om Puri to the veteran Pankaj Kapoor.
Decentralisation has long been a crucial issue here. NSD has started a one-year acting course in Bengaluru and two other year-long residential courses in Sikkim and Agartala. But, as NSD director Waman Kendre says, “We need six to seven NSD-like centres with three-year courses; Delhi could be a centre for higher study.”
THESPIAN VS THESPIAN