Those who thought the number of graduates is too small for a big bash, should look at the powerhouse actors and directors who have walked out of its campus. Vouching for it was Naseeruddin Shah. “I had never paid much attention to studies till I joined NSD,” the actor cheekily quips.
The views of Shah are echoed in fellow— alumni Amal Allana, Waman Kendre, Nadira Babbar, Rohini Hattangady and Atul Kulkarni—all big names in Indian theatre.
Shah’s latest play Antigone will be staged in the festival’s Delhi edition which commences on January 3. The festival’s satellite edition in Mumbai will be rolled out three days later with Ratan Thiyam’s Prologue. The Mumbai festival, though a truncated one, will showcase plays of NSD graduates like 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).
“Our alumni are involved, in some capacity, in all the plays featuring in the festival this year, barring the
foreign productions,” says Anuradha Kapur, director of NSD. However, the play from Bangladesh—The Metamorphosis—boasts of an NSD connection. “We have students from Bangladesh, Nepal and Mauritius. Now we are looking at tie-ups with countries like Afghanistan,” she adds.
As what can be a stepping stone to this association with Afghanistan, the festival will show The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Cry of History from the trouble-torn country. Sharing space with them in the foreign category are Swiss play Delirium, Polish Nijinski, The God, Chinese Butterflies are Free, French Phedre in India,
Phedre in Hindi, Pakistani Burqavaganza and Taboo from the UK.
During the 18-day festival in Delhi, the NSD is hoping for nearly 50,000 spectators and almost the half of that in Mumbai. Platform performances and poster exhibitions are also on the menu. As a part of its mission to share and reach out, the NSD repertory has a lot of touring planned for the year ahead while more celebrations are marked on its calendar in April. “We are planning to reactivate the Purana Qilla place in Delhi, where we will host more plays by NSD alumni, including Nadira Babbar’s play based on 1857 mutiny and Mohan Maharishi’s next,” says Amal Allana, NSD chairperson.
The NSD’s packed calendar has its alumni and theatre lovers excited alike. One of them is Rang De Basanti actor Kulkarni. “Such festivals multiply energies and throw up interesting works,” he sums up.