#NewsBytesExplainer: National School of Drama—Looking at history, evolution, notable alumni
National School of Drama, popularly known as NSD, is India's premier acting institute and is considered the mecca of learning when it comes to exploring the nuances of the craft. Its reputation and prestige have only grown over the years and it has churned out several par-excellence artists over the years. Let's dig into the institution's history, origin, evolution, and towering legacy.
Established in 1959, it became independent entity in 1975
NSD was established in 1959 by Sangeet Natak Akademi as one of its constituent units. In 1975, it became an independent entity and is now recognized under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The School has two wings—the Repertory Company and Theatre in Education Company. NSD is situated at Mandi House, New Delhi, the hub of artistic and cultural activities in the city.
NSD offers a three-year-long full-time course
As mentioned on its website, the National School of Drama offers a competitive three-year full-time diploma course—a rigorous, comprehensive, and intensive program. The syllabus includes "broad-based training in classical dramatic traditions in India and the West, modern theater trends in India and abroad, and in the traditional and folk theater of India, and specialized training in Indian theater traditions."
What's the difference between the two performing wings at NSD?
The Repertory Company "works on contemporary and modern plays and introduces experimental works regularly. Apart from doing productions, it also organizes its own Festival, where past and new productions are introduced and staged," informs the website. The Theatre in Education Company "promotes theater amongst children aged 8-16 and performs creative, curriculum-based plays in schools designed and prepared for children of different age groups."
Home to Asia's largest theater festival
NSD also hosts a festival called Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the largest theater festival in Asia. Set up in 1999, it aims at "showcasing the work of the most creative theater workers in India" and the majority of the plays during the three-week-long festival are held at the NSD campus and other auditoriums in Delhi like Kamani Auditorium, Shri Ram Centre, and LTG auditorium.
NSD also conducts workshops nationwide, sometimes even in neighboring countries
NSD's extension program is another remarkable feature that defines the institute. It has been conducting workshops for adults and children in urban, rural, and remote parts of India since 1978. It has also facilitated workshops in Nepal and Bhutan. "With 50+ programs, the NSD Extension Program reaches hundreds of theater enthusiasts and arts professionals engaged in diverse disciplines across the country," says the website.
Paresh Rawal is the current chairperson of NSD
Veteran actor, thespian, and politician Paresh Rawal is the current chairman of NSD and has been in this position since September 2020. He was appointed by President Ram Nath Kovind. In the past, several eminent personalities have graced this position, such as actor Anupam Kher (2001-2004), playwright Ratan Thiyam (2013-2017), director-designer Amal Allana (2005-2013), and politician-scholar-writer LM Singhvi (1978-82), among several others.
Several renowned actors graduated from NSD
Several actors who received tutelage at NSD went on to become leading actors in Bollywood and other film industries of the country. Some of the most well-known examples are Naseeruddin Shah, Kher, Irrfan Khan, Kumud Mishra, Seema Biswas, Piyush Mishra, Ratna Pathak Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Atul Kulkarni, Swanand Kirkire, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Kapur, Rajpal Yadav, Rajesh Sharma, among several others.