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SHANTA GANDHI (1917-2002)

Shanta Kalidas Gandhi was a stage actor, writer and dancer. She was born in Amreli, a tribal part of Guajrat, where her father was an engineer. Her younger sister Dina Pathak also became an actor.

She began to explore ways of teaching children through music, theatre, dance and story-telling. She left Amreli after some years to do research at the B.M. Institute of Child Psychology in Ahmedabad. In the later 1950s she became Professor of Ancient Indian Drama at the National School of Drama and also helped set up the Asian Theatre Institute. She pioneered the use of folk theatre forms such as Bhavai at NSD and wrote several plays drawing on folk theatre including Amar Singh Rathore and Jasma Odan. She also developed her work on street theatre, producing Mukhda Dekho Darpan Mein (See Your Face in the Mirror). She then became Director of Bal Bhavan and the National Children’s Museum. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1984 and the Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 2001.
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