We are a 58-year-old theatre institution from Kolkata, India. We have been at the forefront of the national theatre movement since our inception in 1960. Our logo was designed by Satyajit Ray. For diversity, quality and scale of its sustained activities, Nandikar has earned a niche in the national cultural calendar.
NANDIKAR, NOT JUST A THEATRE GROUP but an Institution.
Nandikar has produced about 80 Plays, performed these nearly 8500 times across the nation, featuring in all major National / State Festivals, as well as abroad. Quite a number of its productions, e.g. Natyakarer Sandhane Chhati Charitra, Tin Poysar Pala, Bhalomanush, Football, Antigone, etc., have been performed for more than 400 nights each.
National Theatre Festival, organised by Nandkar and in its 34rd year now, is one of the foremost events in the theatre calendar of India.
Our theatre and communication training programs and workshops, tailor-made for actors, children, college students and corporates, are pioneering work in the field of application of performing arts in communication skill development and personality development.
We work with differently abled persons, correctional home inmates, deprived persons and residents of red light areas.
1960 : Practically the who’s who of Indian cultural scene were in their busiest best in Bengal; Sombhu Mitra, Bijan Bhattacharya, Utpal Datta, Tripti Mitra, Khaled Chowdhury and Tapas Sen had already achieved iconic status.
About the same time, a lean, lanky, awkwardly tall young man - untutored, only 27 - parted ways from the near-moribund IPTA, mesmerized a bunch of middle class young persons and founded on June 29, 1960 a theatre group.
This young man was Ajitesh Bandopadhyay. The group, NANDIKAR.
NANDIKAR is one who initiates the auspicious. The group’s slogan was unadorned yet loaded : Produce Good Plays, Play These Well, And Perform As Many Times As Many.
1961 : Natyakarer Sandhane Chhati Charitra (Pirandello) – after one or two damp squibs – was mounted, the buzz began. Dialogue started with Sombhu Mitra who became our mentor.
1964 : Manjari Amer Manjari (Chekov) happened. One evening Satyajit Ray was a guest. Soon he returned the compliment with his design of Naandikar’s logo, which till today Nandikar carries as its badge of honour.
1965 : In nine months Nandikar performed 131 times (Indo-Pak war blacked out theatre for three months). Clearly it became theforerunner among the busiest groups. – The dizziest as well!
We don’t know, they wouldn’t say …”
1966 : Nandikar split vertically; Bibhas Chakrabarty departed with 17 young friends. Nandikar was the lesser!
Yet the Show must go on! SherAfgan (Pirandello, again), Tin Poyshar Pala (Brecht) and regular quality theatre helped Nandikar to notch the top.
1970-1975 : Rangana Theatre, a disaster -- Nandikar, heady with success, entered the commercial theatre circuit, started performing four times a week for five long years until in 1975 it was shooed away by the theatre ‘promoters’. Five years too late Nandikar learnt the home truth that Theatre never ever any where survived without subvention. Displaced and humiliated, Nandikar felt somewhat directionless. Hibernation started, some churnings, too.
1977 : Both India and Bharat started to change visibly; Congress Party was ousted both at the Centre and our State. Open-sky culture started to sneak in.
For Nandikar, too, history was in the making.
1977 : March 10 – Rudraprasad led a young band of 55 to let Football happen on the stage.
1977 : March 12 – Keya Chakraborty died in an accident while shooting for a film.
1977 : September – Founder-director Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay left his own group. Rudraprasad, with a few seniors and around 70 freshers, stayed back to mend fences.
What We Do
Round the year we organise performances of our plays at various theatre halls in Kolkata.
We are invited by organisations in India and abroad to perform our plays at the host’s venue.
Training & Workshop
We impart tailor-made training for actors, children, corporates and college-goers.
National Theatre Festival
Our 10-day theatre festival is a prominent event in the cultural calendar of India.
Major Accolades / Awards
- Four of its directors - the late Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Swatilekha Sengupta and Debsankar Halder are recipients of the National Award from Sangeet Natak Akademi.
- Swatilekha Sengupta was chosen by Satyajit Ray as the leading lady for his film ‘Home and the World’.
- Sohini Sengupta won the President’s award as Best Actress in Film.
- Sohini Sengupta received Sangeet Natak Akademi Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Purashkar as Best ‘Young Theatre Actress’.
- Rudraprasad Sengupta was awarded Tagore Akademi Ratna (FELLOW) by Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi in 2011.
- Madhabi directed by Swatilekha Sengupta was awarded as the Best Production for the year 2009-2010 by Paschimbanga Natya Akademi in 2010.
- Rudraprasad Sengupta awarded Bangabibhushan Samman, the Highest State Award, West Bengal in 2012.
- Rudraprasad Sengupta received ‘Sera Bangali’ Award from ABP News for his Life-Time Achievement in 2013.
- Sohini Sengupta received ‘Sera Bangali’ Best Actress Award from ABP News in 2013.
- Debsankar Halder received ‘Sera Bangali’ Best Actor of Theatre by ABP News in 2014.