Kedar Thakur, actor-director is a name to reckon with in theatre circles in Himachal. Being bestowed with the Ustad Bismillah Khan National Award by Sangeet Natak Academi has elevated the stature of the Himachali actor-director.

In a first for Himachal, Kedar (36) was conferred with the Ustad Bismillah Khan National Award 2016 on November 27, for his notable talent in the field of theatre direction.

Born in the interior Kupvi village of Chopal in Shimla district, which still remains remote, unaware of the nuances of theatre, Kedar hailed from a non-cultural family.

His journey began at the age of 16, with an interest in school plays when he was in eleventh standard, studying at the Government Senior Secondary School Lalpani, Shimla. His passion for theatre led him to attend the performances at Gaiety Theatre by Amla Rai, a renowned theatre artist.

Recalling his formal training at the then Himachal Cultural Research Forum and Theatre Academy at Mandi, Kedar said said, “The training in different aspects of theatre at Mandi by the country’s legends, who moulded me is still paying off. It has not only lent me wings, but also has helped me expand its horizon in the state.

He had always been awe-inspired by Manohar Singh, a distinguished Indian theatre actor-director and a character actor in Hindi films, who also hailed from Himachal.

“I was always enthused by Manohar Singh and his spectacular performances. His belongingness to Himachal is what motivated me the most. I used to always think, when he could make it, why not me,” said Kedar.

His first play, “Maat Karo Mat Mela Anchal”, based on environmental concerns, is still close to his heart for being his first performance at Gaiety Theatre, where notable theatre and cinema personalities, such as Manohar Singh, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, and even the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor used to perform.

He has worked in numerous theatre productions in various capacities such as actor, director and lighting designer.

Well acclaimed for his work in the field of children’s theatre in the state, his group Theatre for Reinforcing Education and Training (TREAT), has staged more than 35 children’s productions in Shimla.

Recipient of a scholarship in the field of folk theatre by Union Ministry of Culture, he has conducted several workshops for children and has been instrumental in designing a theatre programme for prison inmates at Modal Central Jail, Kanda, in the periphery of Shimla.

Appreciating his innovative ideas and work, he has been felicitated by many institutions including the Department of Language, Art and Cult0ure in the state.

The renovation of the Gaiety Theatre that was dedicated to the public in 2009, helped in revival of theatre to some extent, Kedar said. However,  theatre in Himachal has not seen the much required shot in the arm in terms of motivation and grants, even though there is talent in bounty, he added. So far with 59 well received plays to his credit, the  theatre personality attributes his success to his mother Shanti Thakur who motivated him to pursue his dream.

A few years ago, Kedar debuted in a short film, ‘ Ram Bharose’, where he played the lead role that got him the best actor award at the International Film Festival Goa. He has also acted in the Priyanka Chopra starrer ‘Mary Kom’ and in Ketan Mehta’s TV serial, ‘Time Bomb’.