When you search 'Mandi House' on the internet, you will be met with very few, brief, and outdated articles that vaguely discuss an area in Delhi holding significant cultural relevance, particularly for actors and theatre enthusiasts. These articles often romanticise Mandi House, describing it as the 'soul of the city', a centre of culture and art, and even as Delhi's own 'Broadway'. The enjoyers of this place seem to relish the open secret, that is Mandi house.
Originally belonging to the Raja of Mandi, this area acquired its name as Mandi House and is now home to the headquarters of Doordarshan. It contains an array of venues for drama like Kamani or FICCI auditorium, Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, and numerous other auditoriums and halls that have served as the centrepiece for the arts.
Mandi House is a melting pot where diverse forms of culture intersect, encompassing theatre, dance, music, auditoriums, heritage centres, art galleries and media offices. Actors such as Irrfan Khan, Naseeruddin shah, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Shabana Azmi among others consider Mandi House an integral part of their acting careers and attribute it as one of their biggest influences, often returning to this cherished area to reminisce and hone their theatre skills. Most of these renowned actors have churned out from the National School of Drama (NSD) which is also situated in Mandi House.
One notable theatre group is Asmita Theatre, founded and led by renowned director Arvind Gaur. Asmita Theatre provides training to students and a platform to perform, whether indoors or on the street, allowing for self-expression. They particularly focus on safeguarding theatre and nurturing this art form by capturing the comprehensive nuances, character development, and emotional ranges, and studying the distinct presentation styles in plays.
With the emergence of numerous theatre groups in the city, the demand for venues such as Kamani Auditorium and Little Theatre Group grew. In the midst of this, Triveni Kala Sangam was established in 1950 with the initial aim of making dance accessible to enthusiasts at an affordable cost, Triveni Kala Sangam has evolved over time. Today, it has gained widespread recognition for its extensive array of exhibitions showcased across its four galleries - Shridharani Gallery, Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Gallery, and the basement gallery managed by Art Heritage on Tansen Marg.
Since theatre is an art form that has been slowly fading, Mandi House has taken it upon itself to preserve theatre to its original form and protect it from being lost entirely. It is often regarded as a pilgrimage site for those embarking on their acting and theatre journeys. In addition to being synonymous with theatre, performances, and arts, Mandi House has also been described as having 'a little bit of everything'.
Mandi House embodies systematic urban planning, providing a blend of green spaces along with culturally and historically significant buildings. It also features bustling tea shops, food sellers, and, of course, prominent theatres. Strolling through the paths of Mandi House is an experience in itself, with the fragrance of flowers emanating from various flower vendors tucked away in corners. The aroma of food also contributes to the overall ambience of Mandi House. The different food options, from the Bengali markets renowned for their sweets to the various cafes and canteens like Shri Ram Centre Canteen, BM Snacks Corner, and Triveni Terrace Cafe (offering economical prices), add to the vibrant energy.
Every evening, as the sun sets, when you walk through the lanes of Mandi House, you will encounter faces of known actors, writers, and performers engrossed in practising and rehearsing for street plays amidst the gardens and parks. The air is buzzing with dynamic energy, and there is always something or the other happening, creating a lively and fascinating atmosphere.
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