Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra’s beginning can be traced to a small but exclusive sponsoring body called ‘Jhankar’ which was set up in 1947. The Kendra formally came into existence in 1952 when it was registered as a society under the Societies’ Registration Act, 1860. Since then it has grown and blossomed over the years, as one of the premier cultural institutions of Indias
Ever since its inception, the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage and the promotion of performing arts has been the active concern of the Kendra. It takes special care in whatever it does to see that its activities remain linked with and have a direct bearing on the problems and requirements of contemporary performing arts, and do not, under any circumstances, become obscurant or escapist.
The Kendra maintains a permanent dance-drama group. Through its various programmes and stage performances, the group has tried to capture and enshrine as aesthetically as possible the best from our religion, mythology and folklore. And, the Ram Lila performed over 2000 nights both in India and abroad has been one of its major achievements.
Another notable achievement of the Kendra, of which it is justifiably proud, is the revival of the Kathak dance — one of the classical dance styles of North India. The Kendra has made serious efforts to revive and restore the Kathak to its original dignity and as a result of its efforts, Kathak now takes a rightful place among the great dance styles of India.
The Kendra has also contributed to the resuscitation of the Mayurbhanj Chhau style. Considerable research has gone into this performing art. Already ten dance-dramas — Jagdev, Konark, Kaling Vijay, Khajuraho, Yayati, Karna, Chaitra Parv, Kamayani, Buddha, Mahadev and Chakravyuha — have been produced in the Chhau style.
The Kendra’s College of Music and Dance, also started in 1952, has a distinct character of its own. It has trained and built a new generation of performing artists who have successfully combined creative talent and traditional skills with contemporary awareness over the years. The Kendra’s teaching faculty has been served over the years by such eminent artists as Moinuddin Khan Dagar, Aminuddin Khan Dagar, Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Hafiz Ali Khan, Vilayat Hussain Khan, Dalip Chandra Bedi, Siddeshwari Devi, Ishtiaq Hussain Khan, Wahid Khan, Asad Ali Khan, Purushottam Dass, Hafiz Ahmed Khan all for Hindustani classical music; Shambhu Maharaj, Sunder Prasad, Birju Maharaj, Durga Lal and Ram Mohan Maharaj for Kathak dance; Dev Prashad Dass for Odissi dance; and Krishna Chandra Nayak for Mayurbhanj Chhau.