nukkad natak


Delhi is the home of outstanding theatre arts, whilst Mumbai is the metropolis of Bollywood aspirations. In Delhi, stage art has a special significance and a rich history that is still being preserved through a variety of institutions and live performances.

 Delhi, India’s capital, is so distinctive that it offers something to everyone. It has been bustling with possibilities for years, from its mouth-watering food to popular shopping places, monuments and old palaces, museums and government buildings. Out of everything, the city has been sustaining art forms and providing a platform for artists from different fields to explore, grow, and perform. It represents inclusion in culture, where everyone has an opportunity to contribute. One of the ancient gems of the city that is adding charm to it is – Theatre art. The many drama forms, stories, plays, and musicals.

Although many are aware that Mumbai is the “city of dreams,” many flock there to pursue their Bollywood aspirations and make a name for themselves as actors, directors, or singers. Delhi has been a well-known destination for theatre and stage art and has also produced many promising talents, but it is still less applauded for the accomplishments. While some of the artists here continued their careers in theatre and added to its appeal, others became great and well-respected artists in the cinema industry. In the western industry too, Los Angeles is recognised for its film industry, whereas New York is renowned for theatre. Although there has been a line of separation between the stage and the screen, there is still a connection that aids both industries’ growth in different ways. Their originality is beyond comparison.

Coming to Delhi and its vibrant stage art, the city preserves it in a variety of significant and minor ways – It has many students, rising artists, and has created a special audience of art lovers through live performances, nukkad nataks, drama schools, and college societies.

One of the well-known names is of NSD – National School of Drama, which has been a training facility since 1959, providing knowledge and enhancing the abilities of amateur artists. Although Sangeet Natak Akademi is its parent organisation, over the years it has relocated from a number of places. Mandi House is where it is currently set up. Mandi House, which once had ties to the princely state of Mandi, is now home to a number of theatre troupes and establishments, such as the National School of Drama and Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts. The creation of NSD involved numerous notable playwrights and dramatists. A comprehensive curriculum, the promotion of several theatre genres, and one of the best playscripts have all been created here. NSD has a unique identity that focuses on both conserving the past and fostering hope for the future. From the nation’s capital, these groups organise numerous performances and broaden the horizons of theatre art throughout the entire nation.

The institution also holds workshops and other annual festivals like the “Bharat Rang Mahotsav” to raise awareness of the local arts and draw in more visitors. Children and newcomers to the sector can always use it as an excellent learning opportunity to get going on their path. How could one not include the outstanding alumni and directors who formed the very foundation of NSD with a name like that? Ebrahim Alkazi, a renowned theatrical instructor, was the first to transform the school in 1962 with the help of his expertise, leadership, and strict disciplinary measures.  Many people still reflect on the illustrious 15 years the celebrated director spent at NSD, and his role in shaping the organisation helped it reach new heights. Without mentioning Ebrahim Alkazi’s skill, one cannot discuss Indian theatre or the National School of Drama in general. He made sure that the Indian theatre art is not lost and reaches a wider audience by establishing the three-year acting training, developing open theatre, and providing inspiration for the repertory. Some of his productions continue to receive praise as some of the best ever.

There is an unending number of well-known and gifted performers who are working in the entertainment business today, preserving the reputation of organisations like the National School of Drama and also bringing honour to the nation. The list of actors and actresses includes Naseeruddin Shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Neena Gupta, Anupam Kher, Om Puri, Piyush Sharma, Irfan Khan, and many more. This is the National School of Drama’s legacy. This institution is only one of many centres in Delhi that have made contributions to the arts by producing top-notch plays and musicals. One is the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, a renowned theatre company that has been producing plays and offering acting classes since 1958. SRC, like The National School of Drama, has also produced famous individuals in the industry. There are additional independent theatrical groups with base in Delhi that create venues for artists to gather, create fascinating stories, and perform all over the nation.

Delhi colleges have cultural societies that support the arts and permit students to experiment in the field from the college level on up, even at the university level. Ibtida was founded by renowned filmmaker Imtiaz Ali while he was attending Hindu College, as is well known. Many others, such Manoj Bajpayee and Siddharth Malhotra, who attended Delhi University, launched their careers using the many resources the city and university have to offer. It goes without saying that the institution is the alma mater of several well-known artists, starting with Shahrukh Khan, the King of Bollywood, who graduated from Hansraj College and began his career with Delhi’s Theatre Action Group.

Through the Drama Societies at Delhi University, students are contributing to the evolution of theatre art by continually taking chances and incorporating contemporary elements that make it more applicable for the current generation. This includes curating scripts, performing, and taking part in festivals and contests. Women’s rights, girl child education, and scripts promoting community solidarity are among the topics that are publicly performed in the form of Nukkad natak. All of these places are unique in that those who have spent time in these settings honing their craft and giving performances on Delhi stages still have a special appreciation for their formative years as budding performers. These alumni have often reminisced about their time at the National School of Drama or Mandi House and how they attribute their achievements to these institutions.

The singularity of stage and screen cannot be compared, as was stated in the article’s introduction. However, as films have become a popular form of entertainment, younger generations are less familiar with regional art practises and distinctive theatrical methods. As a result, people frequently treat stage and screen the same, which is a mistake. However, acting for the camera and performing live are truly two different things, and sadly, many people from the younger generations have not experienced the latter. Even newer artists who enrol in renowned acting schools participate in stage art in order to later pursue an acting profession. It’s because the Indian film industry gives them more chances to become popular and rich than if they continued with theatrical acting. This art faces a number of different obstacles along the way that make it challenging for it to endure.

Some of these difficulties were brought up in our conversations with a few students and instructors from renowned theatre schools.

Many people these days tend to believe that theatre is the ladder to take you to cinema, that if you begin from here eventually you will reach Bollywood,” they said. “This is untrue. Both theatre and film have unique meanings, and each has something different to offer. According to me, this phenomenon is causing stage art to lose some of its splendour. Many members of Delhi theatre groups just practise and develop their acting abilities in order to pursue a job in the film industry. I’m still relieved, though, that theatre is generating finest plays that the audience enjoys” – An artist from the Shri Ram Centre.

Original art forms in India existed for centuries before the advent of cinema, and were supported by wealthy businesses and appreciated by enormous audiences. Since the 17th century, live performances of Ramleela, which depicts the legendary Ramayana conflict between Ram and Ravana, have taken place at festivals.  The popular theatre production Nautanki, which originated in Uttar Pradesh, had a significant impact on the Indian population. Dohas, ghazals, and chhand were frequently used, along with catchy songs and humorous dialogue. There are other well-known plots in this that centre on mythology. Nautanki, a kind of theatre that was once loved by both urban and rural inhabitants, grew in influence and scope as a result of assimilating numerous other theatre techniques. Unfortunately, the popularity that Nautanki once enjoyed is diminishing, much like that of many other creative forms, as a result of the rise of film and the elitist mindset that stereotypes this local talent.

Cities like Delhi still have a lot of places where individuals may learn about the subject and work to keep alive the artistic forms that previously captivated thousands of people. Those who are interested in finding out more can attend plays and exhibits at Mandi House, the Indian Habitat Centre, or the Kamini Auditorium, or they can join one of the theatre groups in their institutions. A Delhi Theatre Festival will be held in August and will feature many well-known performers and wonderful productions for the public.

Theatre has always been a means of expressing feelings and telling stories through music, quirky characters, and dark humour. Indian plays have masterfully portrayed the legends of the Ramayana, Mahabharat, and other great royal empires of India. In order to ensure that this vibrant culture is sustained, thrives, and receives the recognition it merits, Delhi must continue to support and maintain stage art.

Delhi is the home of great arts, if Mumbai is the city of Bollywood dreams. If Mumbai has seen the zenith of great artists, Delhi has seen their birth and struggle. Without Kala, Kahaniya, and Rangmanch, Delhi’s history would be incomplete!


Read Also : https://dubeat.com/2019/03/24/drama-sutra-a-theatre-report-in-three-acts/

List of Additional Sources:


Story of Ebrahim Alkazi, NSD director who shaped Indian theatre


Blog of Dr. Devendra Sharma, performer and writer of Nautanki artform.

Featured Image Credits: Top news India, NDTV

Priya Agrawal

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts”

These famous lines from one of Shakespeare’s brilliant pastoral comedy, As You Like It, has become the beacon of hope for many in their existential bouts. The magical world of theatre had transformed how those before our time lived their lives and continues to inspire the generations to come.
This world theatre day, we celebrate all those who have contributed to the dynamic field of theatre and pursue to do so all around the world and, more close to home, in the University of Delhi (DU) circuit. Before we jump into the vibrant world of DU theatre circuit, a small introduction to where it all started.

We can thank the small country of Greece for being the birthplace of one of the world’s oldest art forms, theatre. Incepted in ancient Greece, this 5000year-old art form is a result of ceremonial and ritualistic practices that took place in the everyday lives of ancient Greeks. Interestingly enough the term theatre existed, but not as a separate entity. It was a constituent of an already existing culture of performance that included ritualistic practices, music, politics, poetry, weddings, funerals, and many more such activities which were a part of Greeks lifestyle. Participation in such theatrical practices was not considered recreational, but rather necessary for citizenship and to assert one’s existence as an active member of society.

Oh! how the artists of our era would kill for their performance to be mandatory, but nevertheless, despite all the struggle and starvation, we are blessed to bear witness to their brilliant pieces of work. Be it nukkad or stage productions, the talented dramatics societies of Delhi University never disappoint. The beat of the drum announcing their arrival in college has become a familiar resonance. You know when you hear ‘YAY YAY DRAMSOC’ there’s a special treat in store for you. The culture of performance is used conscientiously to highlight the socio-cultural problems of our society. It elucidates serious issues and comedic adaptations alike. Social evils like body shaming, rape culture, bullying, caste struggle, etc are covered along with dramatic adaptations of Shakespeare’s Macbeth or William Congreve’s restoration comedy, The Way of the World.
Theatre has never been restricted to the stage and over the years, DU’s theatre circuit has evolved into a platform for social change and activism.
We talked to some of the genius minds behind these theatrical masterpieces to get a better sense of what theatre means to those who create these wonderful performances.

“A play always has layers of social issues. We pick a play with normal setting and then we try to un-layer the characters by working with the undertone,” says Meenal Bhalla, Vice President of Verbum, the English Dramatics Society of Sri Venkateswara College.
“Theatre can transform your life, with respect to the environment of the society and the kind of plays you do. With theatre, you are forced to think about the smallest of things: questions like, ‘How should I treat my mother?’, ‘Is the love behind pedophilia justified?’
It makes you more patient and understanding and opens up your mind to different perspectives, especially when you sit and watch someone else’s production, you see their side of the story and try to connect it to the environment of the society that you live in”, says Meenal.

Over the years, the themes for the productions by Shri Ram College of Commerce’s (SRCC) dramatics society have ranged from sexual abuse, acceptance of the mentally challenged, and the education system. Alaukika, Joint Secretary of SRCC’s DramSoc says, “Theatre started off as a hobby for me, but today with theatre, I feel like my voice can be heard and I actually understand the kind of impact it has on our lives, in the way a character can change your perspective.”

In the last 5 years, Kahkasha, the Hindi dramatics society of Jesus and Mary College has taken up issues like rape, corruption, the treatment towards the juvenile delinquents, and discrimination towards the LGBT community. “Theatre and Kahkasha have been everything to us. All that we have learned in the past three years is through Kahkasha. Acting is secondary, theatre teaches you how to express your emotions and be around people”, says Mallika Dutta, President of Kahkasha. Ananya, Vice President of Troubadours, The theatre society of Jesus and Mary College says, “Theatre attracts people. Live performances create a lot of impacts and you connect with your audience on a greater level. This year, we did a play on matriarchy in a control based society and how a matriarch tends to lose her power if she exerts it in the wrong way.”

Theatre is a culture in itself. It is based on interpretations, analogies, different perspectives, and points of view. It makes you wonder, question, think, criticise, and be. It is an art that lets you be completely free and creates a safe yet vulnerable space around you. It’s really important that we don’t let this art die down, rather create spaces for it to flourish.

We leave you with these pearls of wisdom provided by the drama geeks that walk amongst us. We hope this, if not encourages you to participate, then at least helps you appreciate those who take the pain to entertain and educate us.


Feature Image Credits: DU Beat

Meher Gill
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Muskan Sethi
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Aadhar, the street theatre society of Motilal Nehru College recently organised their annual street theatre fest Mukaam 2016.  The nukkad natak festival took the centre stage, as huge number of students stepped inside the front lawns of the college to catch a glimpse of the participants. The ten teams which were screened through a preliminary round conducted on 6th, March 2016, participated in the final event on 15th of March 2016, and the venue was themed on the village “Safdarpur”, the imaginary land of Safdar Hashmi.   mukaam1 The judges of the event were Tanay Yadav, who is both, an ex student and an avid street play performer, the other judge was Ms. Shilpi, who is a faculty of the college. Shunya, the theatre society of Ramjas College bagged the first position for their production “Kaachu”, followed by Verve, The theatre society of SSCBS for their production “The Black Box “.  Kaachu is based on the moral that there should always be a society which leaves space for dissent and new ways of thinking. Navdeep Maggu from Ramjas College also won the title of the best actor (male) along with Tanya Maniktala from Shivaji College who bagged the best actor (female). “Much like last year, the participation was impressive and I’m very happy with the execution of the fest,” Ankit Kumar, the president of Aadhar told us. He also thanked all the participating teams for performing at the festival. Ishaan Sengupta [email protected]]]>


 This year with the organisation completing 10 successful years, the festival was celebrated with more enthusiasm and grandeur. The atmosphere was a blend of intense passion and high emotions, as the top nukkad teams performed amidst an awestruck audience. Jazba stepped away from the mainstream and invited 30 young children from NGO’s like PVR Nest and Sai Sanrachana instead of any famous personalities as the chief guests for the event.
The winners of the competition are as follows: 1st- Institute of Home Economics 2nd- Shivaji College 3rd- Maharaja Agrasen College 
Best Script- Gargi College Best actor- Navdeep (Ramjas College) Best actress- Devika (Gargi College) Aman Saxena Memorial Best Music Award – Maharaja Agrasen College   Press release by Ramanujan College]]>

Day 2 of Mecca’16, the annual fest of Hindu College commenced with NDTV’s The Rising Standup Comedy Competition. The first performer was Rohan Chaudhary from IPM College. A total of 9 teams took part and the winners will be announced tomorrow. The programme will be on air soon.

Keeping the fashion quotient high, Nakshatra-The Fashion Society of Hindu College, sponsored by Forever 21, organised Panache, the Fashion show event on day 2 of Mecca. With 8 participating teams from various colleges, the event showcased a plethora of themes.

From zodiac and women empowerment to acceptance of LGBT community, colleges such as Shaheed Rajguru, Institute of Home Economics, Sri Guru Govind Singh College of Commerce presented their creations. Judged by the Management Head of Forever 21, Mr. Manav Chopra and Varoon Kapoor, GGS College emerged as the winners of the event.

Fashion Society of GGS after winning the Fashion Show | Captured by Animesh Agarwal

Ibtida, the dramatics society of Hindu College organised Nukkad Natak Competition. The judge of the event was Sahil Yadav, a Hindu as well as JNU pass out, who also was in the dramatics society. The first prize went to Dramanomics, College of Vocational Studies and Kshitij of Gargi College won the second prize. Special mention was given to Tanya from Shivaji College.

Dramanomics from CVS after winning Street Play Competition at Mecca | Image Credits: Arindam Goswami

  On being asked what he thought about the performances, Sahil Yadav commented, ‘The teams have carried on well with a new trend that was picked almost four years back, to establish the message step by step. Totally love being here.’  

Some minor events like Photography Competition, Treasure Hunt, etc also took place. The second day ended with EDM night featuring DJ Anish Sood and Dualist Inquiry.

Sudisha Misra, Riya Chibber, Arindam Goswami, Srivedant Kar

Photo Credits- Animesh Agarwal, Harshit Thukral