India Today - - STATES - —Sheokesh Mishra


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.”


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