Twenty-five-year-old Scherzade Kaikobad, a first- year student of National School of Drama (NSD), has come from Mumbai to hone her theatrical skills at the prestigious school.
She knows that graduation will not land her a job, especially since she has an “apathy towards serials”. Yet, despite having a master’s degree in English Literature, she chooses to continue her passion, and polish her acting skills.
Another student, Manish Arora, a 2007 NSD graduate, says graduating from NSD does not guarantee a job. “A lot of our alumni start a life of struggle in Bollywood. But if they are lucky, they get a small role in a serial. An actor in a production house usually makes Rs 500 to Rs 2,500 per show. The hours the actor has put into practice are unaccounted for,” he said.
Arora is one of the lucky few who managed to be employed by the drama school itself. He is part of a group selected to perform in the NSD repertory, the school's professional performing wing, for six years.
But this is exactly what the school doesn’t want. It does not want graduates to consider the repertory as their sole professional goal, nor does it want to become a training ground for wannabe movie stars.
“We do not want the NSD to be a graduate’s only option for employment. Many theatre graduates, not only NSD, but also of theatre schools throughout India have few means of employment. Most theatre graduates end up in television. However, as an institute we are not grooming students to become television actors. Otherwise we might as well start television schools,” said Amal Allana, NSD chairman.
In an attempt to uplift conditions of theatre artistes, Jawahar Sircar, union secretary of culture, announced implementation of the Bhaskar Ghose Committee’s recommendations.
“By April 1, the production grant scheme for theatre artists will increase substantially. The revised remuneration package will be posted on the cultural ministry website on Monday,” he said.
But Amal Allana says much more needs to be done. “While the increase in grants is a welcome step, the government has to do more,” Allana said.