National School of Drama

National School of Drama (or NSD) is a theatre training institute situated at New Delhi, India. It is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It was set up in 1959 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi and became an independent school in 1975.[1] In 2005 it was granted deemed university status, but in 2011 it was revoked.[2]

National School of Drama
ChairmanArjun Deo Charan (2018-present)
DirectorSuresh Sharma (September 2018 -present)
AffiliationsSangeet Natak Akademi


The origins of the school can be traced back to a seminar in 1954, where the idea of a Central institution for theatre was mooted, subsequently, a draft scheme was prepared in 1955, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi, which had Jawaharlal Nehru as its president, started drawing plans for the institution. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Delhi, Bharatiya Natya Sangh (BNS) with assistance from UNESCO, independently established the 'Asian Theatre Institute' (ATI) on 20 January 1958, and in July 1958, ATI was taken over by the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), India’s National Academy of Music, dance and drama of Government of India.[3][4]

In the following year, the government merged it with the newly founded school, and thus NSD was established in April 1959 under the auspices of Sangeet Natak Akademi. Initially, the school was situated at Nizamuddin West and was called 'National School of Drama and Asian Theatre Institute, whose first batch passed out in 1961. During his tenure as the director of the institution, Ebrahim Alkazi (1962–1977), not just overhauled the syllabus, but also had the students dig and build platforms for a theatre in the backyard of a rented Kailash Colony house, where NSD had moved.[5] Later when it moved to its present location, he also designed two theatres for NSD, including a 200-seat studio theatre, and the open-air Meghdoot theatre, under a banyan tree.[4][6]

In 1975 it became an autonomous organization, under the erstwhile Ministry of Education and Ministry of Culture, Department of Culture, with the name 'National School of Drama' and relocated in May 1975, to its present premises at Bahawalpur House, the residence of Bahawalpur a former princely state. However, the place is generally known by adjacent (now demolished) Mandi House, the former residence of Raja of erstwhile Mandi princely state.[4] In 1999, the School organized its first National Theatre Festival, 'Bharat Rang Mahotsav', generally held during the second week of January each year.

In 2008, the institution celebrated its golden jubilee at its annual theatre festival, Bharat Rang Mahotsav, with a gathering of its alumni from all over the country,[7] the festival’s satellite edition in Mumbai showcased plays of NSD graduates, including Ratan Thiyam’s Prologue, Bansi Kaul (Aranyadhipati Tantiya), Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury (The Suit), Sanjay Upadhyay (Harsingar), Baharul Islam (Akash), Mohan Maharishi (Dear Bapu) and M K Raina (Stay Yet Awhile).[8] Waman Kendre was appointed as Director the school in 2013. He will serve a five-year term.[9] He has done post-graduate with research in folk theatre of Kerala from NSD. He belongs to the nomadic Vanjara tribal community of Marathwada and was one of the leading lights of the Dalit theatre movement in Maharashtra in the late 1970s.[10]

Deemed university status

On 16 March 2005, the Government of India granted the NSD the status of deemed university.[11][12] However, in 2010 the NSD Society asked for the deemed university status to be revoked since "[it] could undermine the professional training, autonomy, and flexibility required in the creative fields such as theatre." Thus, in October 2011 the status was revoked on request of NSD.[13]

Performing Wings

Repertory Company

The professional performing wing of NSD, the 'National School of Drama' Repertory Company was set up in 1964, with an aim to promote professional theatre in India. It first head was Om Shivpuri, followed by Manohar Singh, Ram Gopal Bajaj (Acting Chief), J.N. Kaushal (Acting Chief), Anuradha Kapur (Acting Chief), and Suresh Sharma, Sagar Kamble, Atul Singhai (Animation chief).

Today, the Repertory Company, has staged over 120 plays based on the works of about 70 playwrights and featuring around 50 directors in several countries, and various cities across the nation, and has its own festival every year, called Annual Repertory Company Summer Festival, in which it perform new and past plays. In 2004, the repertory celebrated its 40th anniversary with a theatre festival in New Delhi.

Sanskaar Rang Toli

In 1989 NSD established the ‘Theatre-in-Education Company’ (T.I.E), called 'Sanskaar Rang Toli', today it has become India's premier educational resource centres, and coaches children aged 8 to 16 years. The company regularly performs plays for school and adults audiences alike, and has its own yearly theatre festivals, 'Jashn-e-Bachpan' and Bal Sangam.[14]

Performing spaces

The schools has three auditoria within the campus:

  • Abhimanch Auditorium
  • Sammukh Auditorium
  • Bahumukh Auditorium

Apart from that it has a studio theatre and minor performances spaces used on special occasions, like the Bharat Rangmahotsav.

Regional Centres

In a bid to decentralize its activities, NSD opened Regional Resource Centres (RRC) across India, the first of which was opened at Bangalore in 1994.[4] A new centre was established in Varanasi.

Bharat Rang Mahotsav

Bharat Rang Mahotsav, or the 'National Theatre Festival', established in 1999, is the annual theatre festival of National School of Drama (NSD), held in New Delhi, today it is acknowledged as the largest theatre festival of Asia, dedicated solely to theatre.[15]

Notable alumni

Directors of NSD

Chairpersons of NSD

NSD has had eleven directors since its establishment in 1959:[23]

Molestation allegation

In August 2018 a woman student alleged molestation[24] that she was inappropriately touched by National School of Drama's guest professor Suresh Shetty during the entrance workshop.[25][26] The accused, professor was a retired Academics Dean of NSD.[27][28]

See also


  1. Training - National School of DramaThe Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, by Gabrielle H. Cody, Evert Sprinchorn. Columbia University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-231-14422-9. Page 766.
  2. "PMO wants deemed varsity tag for NSD, institute disagrees". 8 August 2016.
  3. National School of Drama ..over the past 50 years The Tribune 15 March 2009.
  4. NSD Genesis Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine NSD website
  5. "Theatre is revelation (Interview)". The Hindu. 24 February 2008.
  6. National School of Drama The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Asia/Pacific, by Don Rubin. Published by Taylor & Francis, 2001. ISBN 0-415-26087-6. Page 168.
  7. National School of Drama celebrates golden jubilee in style The Economic Times, 12 January 2008.
  8. "The Graduates". Indian Express. 28 December 2007. Archived from the original on 4 October 2012. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
  9. "Government Appoints Prof. Waman Kendre as Director of National School of Drama" (Press release). Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  10. "Marathi theatre veteran to head NSD". The Telegraph. 26 July 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  11. National School of Drama gets Deemed University StatusMinistry of Human Resource Development 16 March 2005."The Government has declared the National School of Drama, New Delhi as Deemed to be University with immediate effect."
  12. NSD declared deemed university Deccan Herald 16 March 2005.
  13. "The Hindu : News / National : NSD loses deemed varsity status on own request". Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  14. "T.I.E."
  15. "11th Bharat Rang Mahotsav to begin from Jan 7". Financial Express. 5 January 2009.
  16. "Anupam Kher: My ups and downs have taught me about life - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  17. "I would never leave Bollywood as my Base: Irrfan Khan". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  18. "Himachal keeps theatre alive with amateur dramatic club". 12 September 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2018. External link in |work= (help)
  19. "Acting is learnt, not taught: Naseeruddin Shah". Hindustan Times. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  20. "NSD Convocation: National School of Drama awards diplomas to alumni of past 10 years". Hindustan Times. 6 August 2019.
  21. "As a student of NSD, my life was based around Mandi House, says Rohitash Gaud | Delhi News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  22. NSD chairperson NSD website.
  23. Previous Directors Archived 2007-12-27 at the Wayback Machine National School of Drama, Official website.
  24. "National School of Drama Student Alleges Molestation by Guest Teacher". News18. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  25. "Girl alleges molestation by National School of Drama professor during test". The Indian Express. 5 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  26. "Applicant says 65-year-old NSD teacher molested her during test - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  27. "Woman Who Alleged Molestation Not Our Student: National School Of Drama". Retrieved 5 August 2018.
  28. "National School of Drama student alleges molestation by guest teacher". Hindustan Times. 4 August 2018. Retrieved 5 August 2018.

Further reading

  • Rang yatra: twenty-five years of the National School of Drama Repertory Company, by National School of Drama. Published by National School of Drama, 1992.
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