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Marathi theatre veteran to head NSD

New Delhi, July 25: Marathi theatre veteran Waman Kendre will be the new director of the National School of Drama (NSD), sources have said after a year’s vacuum and stage-like twists to fill the slot.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister, picked actor-director Kendre over actress Arundhati Nag, favoured by a search panel of stage doyens, and Abdul Latif Khatana, recommended by the culture ministry.

The panel of Shyam Benegal, Girish Karnad and others had shortlisted Nag, 56, Kendre, 54, and Abdul Latif Khatana, 52, in November last year. The panel said the names were in order of priority but specified they preferred Nag, though she had not applied for the job.

Nag works in Hindi and Kannada films and runs a cultural institute. She won the best supporting actress National Award for Paa, playing Vidya Balan’s mother.

But earlier this month, the culture ministry forwarded the name of Khatana, a Kashmiri and an NSD alumnus, with sources saying he was minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch’s pick.

Last week, the file went to the Prime Minister’s Office and details were sought about the three candidates suggested by the search panel. “The government must have felt that since Nag had not even applied, she should not be picked. Kendre was next, so he was the obvious choice,” a senior ministry official said.

Kendre is an NSD post-graduate with research in folk theatre of Kerala. He belongs to the nomadic Vanjara tribal community of Marathwada and was one of the leading lights of the Dalit theatre movement in Maharashtra in the late 70s.