Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra

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Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra
Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, Delhi.
Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra, Delhi.
Abbreviation SBKK
Formation 1952
Purpose music and performing arts education, theatre
Headquarters 1 Copernicus Marg, New Delhi - 110 001
Shobha Deepak Singh

Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK) [1] is an Indian cultural institution which runs a noted school for music, dance and performing arts in New Delhi. It was founded by Sumitra Charat Ram in 1952, and imparts training in Indian classical dance styles and music, including Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Chhau, Hindustani Classical music, both Vocal and Instrumental. It associated organisation is the Shriram Centre for Performing Arts at Safdar Hasmi Marg, in the Mandi House area, the cultural hub of Delhi,[2] the centre includes a theater for the performing arts, a theatre repertory company and an acting school.[3]

Often referred as Bharatiya Kala Kendra, the Kala Kendra hold an important place in history performing arts education in India. Its current director is Shobha Deepak Singh, daughter of its founder, Sumitra Charat Ram. Today, it is best known for its annual Ramlila, the enactment of the life of Rama which takes place during the 10-day Dussehra festival. First begun at the center in 1957, the Ramlila has, over the years, used different choreographers and style to include both folk and Indian classical dance to produce fresh choreographies.[4][5]


Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra finds its origin in a Jhankar, a society founded in 1947 for an appreciation of Indian classical music and dance, gradually it started offering training in music and dance and came to be known as Bharatiya Kala Kendra. Eventually it moved to Copernicus Marg where it was renamed Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, later it was registered under the same name in 1952, under the Societies' Registration Act XXI of 1860. It now has two sections, the College of Music and Dance, and the Performing Arts Section.[6] Noted classical singer Nilina Ripjit Singh, later known as Naina Devi was its director.[7][8]

Noted musicians, singer and dance guru of the era worked at the Kendra, including Siddheshwari Devi[9]Shambhu Maharaj, Birju Maharaj, Munna Shukla and Leela Samson. Kathak Kendra was originally established as the Kathak wing of the Shriram Bharitya Kala Kendra, in 1955, through the efforts of Nirmala Joshi, the first secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, under the patronage of Sumitra Charat Ram, wife of industrialist, Lala Charat Ram of Shriram Group. here noted Kathak guru, Shambhu Maharaj, taught and his nephew Birju Maharaj. It was later taken over by Sangeet Natak Akademi and shifted to nearby Mandi House to become the National Institute of Kathak Dance.[10] Founder Director, Sumitra Charat Ram was later awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 1966, while her daughter and present Director, Shobha Deepak Singh in 1999.[11]

The Kendra has its own puppet troupe for many years, run by Rahi and Keshav Kothari, while the Puppet Section of the Kendra staged several important productions over the years, including Dhola Maru, Jhansi Ki Rani and Prithiviraj-Sanjukta, which even won the first at Puppet festival in Udaipur. This played an important role in establishing modern puppetry in Delhi.[12] The Kendra also houses an art gallery at the ground level and its library has a large and rare collection of books, audio and visual recordings and extensive archives.

Founder Sumitra Charat Ram died on August 8, 2011 in New Delhi, at the age of 96.[13]


Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra has two wings, College of Music and Dance, and the Performing Arts Section.

College of Music and Dance[edit]

Performing Arts Wing[edit]

The Performing Arts Section of the Kendra put up productions of dance dramas all over the country, including the annual "Ramlila" production.

The Ramlila[edit]

The Annual "Ramlila" production, a dance drama based on life of Rama, at the Kendra has become an institution by itself. The first production took place in 1957 by Shobha Deepak Singh, ideas from Nirmala Joshi, the first secretary of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. The script was written by Hindi poet, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', while Tapas Sen, and Inder Razdan, designed the set and the lights. Narendra Sharma and Jayanti Sharma were principal actors and it was inaugurated by then PM Jawaharlal Nehru. It was one of the first dance dramas to be shot and relayed by Delhi Doordarshan.[15] The Ramlia also weaves contemporary socio-political issues into the storyline of the epic of Ramayana.[16]

Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement[edit]

In February 2011, the first 'Sumitra Charat Ram Award for Lifetime Achievement' established by Shri Ram Bhartiya Kala Kendra was award to Pandit Birju Maharaj,[17] in the following year, the award was given to Kishori Amonkar.


Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra is on the Copernicus Marg, a radial of the India Gate, and in the Mandi House area, Delhi’s cultural hub.[2] It stands next to its sister body the "Kamani Auditorium" and Delhi's premier auditorium opened in 1971.[18] On the other side is Rabindra Bhawan, which houses a host of apex government bodies for arts and culture, including, the Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Lalit Kala Akademi, while Doordarshan Directorate is across the road. Also close by are Kathak Kendra, National School of Drama, Triveni Kala Sangam and Little Theatre Group.

Its nearest Delhi Metro station is the Mandi House station.

Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts[edit]

Shri Ram Centre for Art and Culture, Delhi

Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts (SRCPA) at Mandi House on Safdar Hasmi Marg, New Delhi, close to the Kendra, it is run by the Indian National Theatre Trust established in 1958 the promotion of Art and Culture, with people like Sheila Bharat Ram, Kamla Devi Chattopadhyay,Nandita Kriplani and Aditya Srivastava associated with it.[19] The Centre runs a certified Two Year Acting Course. The SRCPA Theatre Repertory Company started in 1980[20] and Puppet Theatre company, which over the years saw the rise of modern puppetry under puppeteer Dadi Padamjee.

The present building of the Centre opened in the early ‘60’s. It was designed by Shiv Nath Prasad with help from theatre doyen, Ebrahim Alkazi, and was constructed under the overall supervision of industrialist Vinay Bharat Ram of Shriram Group (DCM Ltd.), from the industrialist family of Lala Shri Ram. The Shankar Lal Murli Dhar Auditorium has a capacity of 556 people at two levels. In 1978, the basement at the Centre was converted into a theatre with flexible seating and performing areas.[21]

Further reading[edit]

  • Khokar, Ashish; Sumitra Charat Ram (1998). Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra: a history : Sumitra Charat Ram reminisces. Lustre Press. ISBN 8174360433. 


  1. ^ (English: Shriram Bhartiya Centre for Arts)
  2. ^ a b "Mandi House". The Times of India. Sep 25, 2002. 
  3. ^ "Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra". Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Ram in Special Effects". The Pioneer. November 8, 2010. 
  5. ^ Chaitanya, Krishna (1987). Arts of India. Abhinav Publications. p. 85. ISBN 8170172098. 
  6. ^ "India Today". Thomson Living Media India Ltd. Volume 30, 2005. p. 74.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  7. ^ Ashish Khokar (1 January 1998). Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra: a history : Sumitra Charat Ram reminisces. Lustre Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-81-7436-043-4. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "A Tale Of Two Women: In search of their own songs". The Telegraph. March 11, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  9. ^ Devi, Savita; Vibha Singh Chauhan (2000). Maa-- Siddheshwari. Lotus Collection. p. 90. ISBN 81-7436-121-9. 
  10. ^ Massey, p. 29
  11. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. 
  12. ^ Ghosh, Sampa; Utpal Kumar Banerjee (2006). Indian puppets. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-435-X. 
  13. ^ "Sumitra Charat Ram passes away". The Times of India. Aug 9, 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Prospectus". SBKK. 
  15. ^ "Country's oldest official Ramlila will stick to tradition New Delhi". Deccan Herald. Oct 5, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Kala Kendra 'Ramlila' now with contemporary face". The Tribune. September 22, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Pt. Birju Maharaj felicitated". The Times Of India. Feb 25, 2011. Retrieved 2013-06-11. 
  18. ^ "Kamani". 
  19. ^ History SRC website.
  20. ^ "Repertory Performances". SRC. 
  21. ^ "CEO Profile". DCM Textiles. Archived from the original on 2010-12-11. 

External links[edit]