National School of Drama (NSD) and the Punjabi Theatre
Only in the 1960s did the theatre movement in the regional languages attain maturity and professional skill. The National School of Drama, established in Delhi in the early 1960s, became a strong centre for bringing about a purposeful dialogue among theatre folks of the different regions of India. With coming into contact with the theatre being done elsewhere in India, Punjabi theatre found a new orientation in the Punjab and Delhi and Bombay. It had an opportunity to avail itself of the services of well trained professional theatre artists like Harpal Tiwana and his talented wife, Neena, Bansi Kaul, Suresh Pandit, Gurcharan Singh Channi, Devinder Daman, Sonal Mann Singh, Balraj Pandit, Kewal Dhaliwal, Kamal Tiwari Mahender, Navnindra Behal and Rani Balbir Kaur, who have brought into it a new vitality and vigour.
The establishment of the departments of Indian drama and Asian theatre at Punjab University, Chandigarh, and speech and drama at Punjab University, Patiala, under the guidance of two theatre stalwarts, Balwant Gargi and Surjit Singh Sethi, respectively, had led to some bold experiments in theatre. In the 1970s, Prem Julundry, with his Sapru House shows, regaled middle-class Punjabi audiences in Delhi. These shows, a craze of those times, offered what may be termed hilarious adult comedy, which were also called laugh-a-minute sex comedies. These Punjabi farces with salacious titles have been attacked, defended, even threatened, yet they were big box office hits.
In this very period, Punjabi theatre started having its impact, for some of the theatre groups made a serious effort to free themselves from the bonds of tradition. The Delhi Art Theatre of Shiela Bhatia, Gursharan Singh's Amritsar School of Drama, which later took the name of Chandigarh School of Drama after his moving to Chandigarh, Balraj Pandit's Natakwala, and Atamjit's Kala Mandir, first at Amritsar and now at Mohali, have combined dramatic dexterity with ingenious devices while exploring new modes of expression on stage. Ajmer Aulakh has evolved a new, robust theatrical idiom from the folklore of Punjab. Devinder Daman and Jaswant Damathe, a director-actress, husband-wife team, have, through their Norah Richards Rang Manch, introduced new modes of action in religious-historical plays.