Introduction

The Kendra’s journey began on the midnight of the Country’s Independence eve on 15th August, 1947, when Mrs. Sumitra Charat Ram, the Founder of the Kendra, organised an all night long musical soirée at her residence in New Delhi to celebrate this historic event. Most of the leading Musicians of that time participated in the event. This led to the formation of the ‘Jhankar Music Circle‘ which eventually resulted in 1952 in the formation of a registered Society named as the BHARATIYA KALA KENDRA. In 1976 the Society was renamed as SHRIRAM BHARATIYA KALA KENDRA and is now popularly known as SBKK or just the KENDRA.

In 1961 the Kendra created the BHARATIYA KALA KENDRA TRUST to own and manage the Kendra’s Campus and the Facilities located therein.

Over the past seventy years the Kendra has evolved into a premier Centre of Indian Arts imparting training in different styles of Indian Classical Music and Dance. The institution has played a stellar role in the revival and nurturing of Hindustani Classical Music and the Kathak Dance style. In fact the National Institute for teaching Kathak, the Kathak Kendra, was originally a department of SBKK till it was taken over by the Government in 1964.

The Kendra’s Faculty of Music currently offers Vocational and professional courses in Hindustani Vocal and Instrumental Music and the faculty of Dance offers similar courses in Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Oddissi and Chhau styles.Over the years the Kendra has had the privilege of having some of the most Legendary Masters as its Faculty members. This has resulted in several of the Kendra Alumni becoming eminent Artistes in their own right.

Soon after its inception the Kendra established a centre for production of Dance Dramas based on the Country’s rich History, Mythology and Folklore. The Kendra maintains a permanent Repertory which has till date presented around 60 Productions covering a vast variety of topics. The most iconic of these was the RAM LILA first presented in 1957, later on known as SHRI RAMA, that has been staged in Delhi every year since then for about a month during the Dussera celebrations. Many of the Kendra’s Productions have been performed numerous times all over the Country and in several overseas Countries.

Another Annual event that the Kendra has been regularly staging for the past several decades is the SHRIRAM SHANKERLAL MUSIC FESTIVAL. This is amongst the oldest Music Festivals of the Country where apart from presenting eminent Maestros the Kendra also provides a platform to younger talented artistes.

The Kendra’s activities are carried out from a campus located in the heart of New Delhi which houses a teaching Block, a Hostel for Staff and Students, a Cafeteria, an Open Air Amphitheater and a World Class Theatre Hall, the Kamani Auditorium.

Founder

SumitraCharatram

Sumitra Charat Ram

Sumitraji, as she is fondly called, was born on 17th Nov. 1914 into an illustrious family of Land owners of Western UP, then known as the United Province. Her father Raja Jwala Prasad was a gifted individual who rose to become the first Indian Chief Engineer of UP. After early schooling in Nainital and Allahabad Sumitraji went on to join the Benares Hindu University under the tutelage of the best in Music & Literature such as Rabindranath Tagore, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar etc. It was this exposure that laid the foundation for her abiding interest in Art and Culture.

Sumitraji, as she is fondly called, was born on 17th Nov. 1914 into an illustrious family of Land owners of Western UP, then known as the United Province. Her father Raja Jwala Prasad was a gifted individual who rose to become the first Indian Chief Engineer of UP. After early schooling in Nainital and Allahabad Sumitraji went on to join the Benares Hindu University under the tutelage of the best in Music & Literature such as Rabindranath Tagore, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Jaishankar Prasad, Mahadevi Verma, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar etc. It was this exposure that laid the foundation for her abiding interest in Art and Culture.

Over the past seventy years the Kendra has evolved into a premier Centre of Indian Arts imparting training in different styles of Indian Classical Music and Dance. The institution has played a stellar role in the revival and nurturing of Hindustani Classical Music and the Kathak Dance style. In fact the National Institute for teaching Kathak, the Kathak Kendra, was originally a department of SBKK till it was taken over by the Government in 1964.

The Kendra soon set up a College to teach Indian Classical Dance & Music as well as a performing section to produce Dance Dramas based on Indian mythology and Folklore. Through the medium of this Institution Sumitraji went on to realise one of her greatest desires which was to revive the Kathak Dance style. She was determined to give Kathak the respect and recognition that it deserved and she succeeded in achieving her goal. Another great dream that Sumitraji had was to produce a Dance Drama on the life of Lord Ram. She was able to realise this dream as well when in 1957 she presented the inaugural show of ‘Ram Leela’ in front of the then Prime Minister to a standing ovation. 70 years later the Show now called ‘Shri Ram‘ still plays to packed houses.

In appreciation of her contribution to the Artistic world she was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India in 1966.

The Kendra went on to become Delhi’s leading cultural Institute where the Who’s Who of Indian Classical Music and Dance Maestros taught and nurtured generations of younger Artistes who in turn went on to reach great heights of eminence.

Sumitraji gradually gave up the reigns of the Institute in the late Eighties to her elder daughter Shobha who now runs the Kendra. She was heart broken when her husband Dr. Charat Ram died in 2007. She herself passed away in 2011 with the satisfaction that she had found a successor in her lifetime.

As a mark of respect to the Founder and to acknowledge her distinguished contribution, the management has instituted the prestigious Sumitra Charat Ram Award, given annually to an eminent maestro of Indian classical music or dance.

Director

Shobha Deepak Singh

Shobha was born on 21st October 1943 in Delhi to the Charat Ram Family of the erstwhile DCM Shriram Group, one of the leading Industrial Houses of that time. Her Mother Sumitra came from an enlightened family of land owners and Administrators of West UP and had studied under some of the greatest names of Indian literature and Arts. She imparted to her children a sense of tradition and an appreciation of the Arts. Shobha started learning Kathak at the age of 7 from Shambhu Maharaj and later on from Birju Maharaj. She then went on to learn Sarod under Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and subsequently under Pandit Biswajeet Roy Choudhury.

for more information please see www.shobhadeepaksingh.in

The Government of India awarded her the fourth highest civilian award of Padma Shri in 1996 for her contribution to Art & Culture.

Governing Council

1. Mr. Deepak Singh – Chairman
2. Mr. Siddharth Shriram
3. Mrs. Anju Pratap Singh
4. Mrs. Anuradha Goel
5. Mrs. Gauri S. Keeling
6. Mr. Surendra Daulet Singh
7. Mrs. Ketaki Sood
8. Mrs. Minaakshi S. Dass
9. Mr. Luv. D. Shriram
10. Ms. Chhaya Shriram
11. Mrs. Shobha Deepak Singh – Vice Chairperson & Director
12. Mr. R.B. Sharma – Secretary