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DEVENDRA RAJ ANKUR …. A natural visionary.

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

Summer workshops were in full swing at Nehru Centre, Worli and first ever attempt of NSD to have its extension in Mumbai. This was in 2001 when Devendra Raj Ankur…. We all know him as “ANKURJI” who was the Director of NSD then.

The hall was filled with many participants for this one year diploma of production oriented course by NSD in collaboration with Nehru Centre. The foyer was filled with buzz of youth with talks of Kalidas’s play… some one rehearsing the monologues from Aashad ka ek din.. and few trying to sing and some chitchatting . I was totally clueless and was there for the audition.

I went in hall and I was asked to sing .

I started with this romantic Marathi composition of Ashaji ….

“Chandanyaat firtana maza dharlaas haath”

the person on table was trying to give some taal ( I think he was making me betaal ) and one on harmonium some melody and I singing on entire different plane…. Believe me …It was a chaos.

The interview started

Ankurji : Which is the last play you have seen ?

Me : I don’t remember but atleast for past 7 years , I have not seen a single play.

Ankurji : Which is your favorite natak kar ?.... (now that was the word he used ….and I was blank )

Me : I had Shakespeare for Graduation and Abhgyanshakuntalm for Indian Literature. But I feel I liked Kalidas more as I could connect to the love , powerful aura and sacrifice of Shakuntala in play.

Ankurji : Why you feel you should be here ?

Me : I feel I can tell stories to my kids in very interesting way than others . So may be I have something … am here to explore myself.

Ankurji : Would you like to do theatre or television from five years from now?

Me : I see myself doing theatre.

That’s was it …. And I was selected. I was selected as most raw person who does not know anything of theatre !!

Today looking back, I feel Ankurji could have rejected me when there were more better participants than I was!!

He was a natural visionary to give me chance to explore me. He gave me chance to do mistakes …to try improvise … to learn . He personally took classes of various forms of theatre including Greek, Sanskrit, Parsi and Modern Theatres.

Our course director Mr. Rajan Sabharwal and Ankoorji stood by me through that entire project. My sincere thanks to both of them for where I am today.

He further encouraged me and my colleague Radhika when we started with children theatre workshops in Mumbai and Thane and came all the way to Thane for the demonstrations of workshops.

He was the one who enlightened us to show audience what we imagined. I could not forget him when I started writing this dairy…THROUGH WINGS.


Born in 1948 in Sirsa, Haryana, Shri Devendra Raj Ankur studied theatre at the National School of Drama in Delhi, where he obtained his Diploma in 1972 specializing in direction. In 1981, he took his Master’s degree in Hindi from the University of Delhi. After a stint in NSD’s Repertory Company, Shri Ankur joined the School’s faculty in 1979, and has since served NSD in various capacities in Delhi and its Resource Centre in Bangalore. He was appointed Director of NSD in 2001. As a theatre director, Shri Ankur has staged a variety of fiction and other literature without their adaptation into dramatic form. Since his initial experiments in 1975, Shri Ankur has produced numerous stories, novels, and plays in this manner, drawn from literature in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, and other languages. His important productions include Mahabhoj, Anaro, Khanaba- dosh, Rustam-Sohrab, Yahudi ki Ladki, Abhigyana Shakuntalam, Mrichhakatika, Ai Ladki, and Uska Bachpan. He has conducted production-oriented workshops in various parts of India under NSD’s extension programme, and has participa- ted in several seminars. His publications include two collections of his articles in Hindi — Pehla Rang (1999) and Rang Collage (2000) — and the volume Darshan Pradarshan (2002). The Sahitya Kala Parishad, Delhi, has conferred its Parishad Samman on Shri Ankur in 2000- 2001. His book Pehla Rang received an award from the Hindi Akademi in 2001. Shri Devendra Raj Ankur receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribu- tion to theatre as a director.

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