Board of Trustees

Natya Bharati’s Board of Trustees consists of former presidents, who provide the overall governance of the organizational policies as well as facilitate the selection of Executive Committee. More specifically, they support the mission, health and welfare of Natya Bharati. All changes to Natya Bharati’s bylaws, mission or structure are approved by the Board of Trustees.

  • T. Srikantiah

    Dr. T. Srikantaiah (Kanti) has been at the forefront of Indian theater in the Washington DC area for over 25 years, In 1983, with a group of friends he established ‘Natya Bharati,” a theater group that produces quality plays predominantly in Hindi and served as its founding president for 6 years. Today, Natya Bharati is recognized as one of the leading and premier theater groups in the area. In 1993, he co-founded “SAHARA Group, Inc., to raise funds for the needy through the medium of performing arts. Under the banner of SAHARA, he directed 4 highly successful plays in English – Vijay Tendulkar’s “Kamala,” “The Quest,” “In the Shadow of Buddha” (based on Mohan Rakesh’s “Leheron ke Rajhans”), “Trishanku” (for which he also co-wrote the script) and more recently in 2007, Mahesh Dattani's "Where There is a Will." Sahara's projects have raised over $35,000 which have been distributed to various charities in India and the US predominantly as a director. He has also acted and produced plays. Over the years, he has directed several prominent plays in Kannada for KAVERI, including Girish Karnad’s “Hayavadana” (performed in several cities in the U.S and in Canada) and more recently Kuvempu’s “Beralge Koral” (performed at the World Kannada Conference in Baltimore in 2006). Recently, he directed Krishnamurthy Puranik’s “Radheya” which was staged in the Washington area for KSR, Kaveri, Natya Bharati, also in NJ, and is planned for Navika. In 2007, Kanti was one of two artists in the US recognized by the Karnataka State Natak Academy for his contribution to Kannada theater in the category of non-resident Indians contributing to Kannada literature and culture. Also in 2007, “Beralge Koral” directed by Kanti was selected and successfully staged at the South Asian Theater Festival in New Jersey and received critical acclaim. Professionally, Dr. Srikantaiah is a professor at the University of Maryland.


  • Alka Khanna

    A founding member of Natya Bharati, Alka has held various executive positions including Treasurer, Secretary and President. She now serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. Her engagement with the arts began in school and continued through college where she was involved in both theatre and dance, training in Bharatnatyam under Guru C. V. Chandrashekhar. Her debut on the Washington stage coincided with Natya Bharati’s maiden production Kasturimrig in 1984, an experience she reprised years later in another role in the same play. She has played leading roles in several other Natya Bharati productions over the years and also enjoyed the thrill of backstage support in many others. Among her various professional roles, the most exciting was her recent position at Asia Society Washington where she organized arts and culture programs, educational activities with universities and think tanks, and special events. She established the Global India Series, through which she orchestrated a wide array of presentations and dialogues on Indian arts as well as business and policy issues. She has remained engaged with theatre during her stints in Beijing and London. She currently divides her time between Washington DC and New Delhi, where she is wetting her feet with established theatre groups.


  • Vijay Deshpande

    Vijay Deshpande is one of the founding members of Natya Bharati and currently is a member of its Board of Trustees. Active in Washington area’s Hindi and Marathi stage since 1978, he has served in various positions in Natya Bharati, including Publicity Officer, Secretary and President (1996-98). He has directed two Hindi plays (“Bin Baatike Deep” and “Dhai Akshar Premake”), acted in six Hindi and Marathi plays and co-wrote three plays produced in English. His first love, however, is stage lighting – he has designed and executed lighting and special effects for over 25 plays for Natya Bharati and other local theater groups. Vijay is a senior executive with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


  • Late Shri Kishan Banga

    Kishan Banga has been involved with Natya Bharati productions since 1986, when he was assigned the task of cloud making in the back stage for the play "hai Mera Dil". Thereafter, he managed the set design and construction for many plays, and was applauded for the brilliant sets of the plays "Eklvya", "Masoom", and "Ballabhpur". He has been the producer of 4 plays as well. and an elected president of Natya Bharati in 2002.


  • Manju Gupta

    Manju Gupta is a member of the Natya Bharti Board of Trustees since 2006, after serving as President 2003 -2005, as Treasurer from 1997-2002, and as member of Advisory committee prior to that. With a background in literature, and a love for theatre, she enthusiastically supports Natya Bharti’s mission of promoting local talent through theatre. She actively helps with outreach, fundraising, play reading, and play selections. She acted in Khamosh Adalat Jari Hai, Arey Sharif Log, and was the Executive Producer for Mera Khwaab and Gharonda. She has hosted rehearsals of many plays in her home, enjoying months of frequent rehearsals and cast parties after the play performance. She likes the excitement of seeing the different stages when a play goes from the reading to the final performance on stage in front of a live audience. By profession a CPA, now enjoys a leisurely retirement after a career in Civil service.


  • Suma Muralidhar

    An avid theater buff, Suma has been involved in theater since childhood, primarily as an actor. Since her move to the U.S. in 1979, she has played the leading role in over 20 plays in English, Hindi and Kannada- plays written by renowned playwrights from India as well as contemporary Indian American playwrights. Some of memorable roles she has portrayed include Padmini in Karnad’s “Hayavadan,” Sharmishta in “Yayaati, “ Vishaaka in “Bin Baatee Ke Deep,” Sarita in Tendulkar’s “Kamala,” Sundari in “In the Shadow of Buddha,” Seema in “The Quest,” for which she also co-wrote the script, Raja in “Maayavi Sarovar,” Sonal in Dattani’s, “Where There’s a Will,” Shaarika in “Taconic Parkway,” and Savitri in “Aadhe Adhure,” under the direction of the renowned director, Amol Palekar. In addition to acting, Suma has also produced several plays. She directed her first full-length play, “RON,” for Natya Bharati’s 25th anniversary. Suma has been associated with Natya Bharati since its inception and served as Vice-President for two terms as well as President. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees. With the intention of combining her passion for theater with her interest in philanthropy, she co-founded Sahara Group and raised funds for several charities in India and the U.S. through the medium of performing arts. Says Suma, “There’s something about being on stage – it makes me come alive. Theater has been a source of joy and strength to me through the thick and thin of my life.”


  • Manoj Tiwari

    Manoj Tiwari, has been involved with Natya Bharati primarily as an actor, and director, and has served the organization in multiple roles for over 25 years. He has acted in several plays in the Washington metro area with Natya Bharati and other organizations. His recent ventures as an actor include “Aadhe Adhure”, “Ron,” “Where there is a Will,” “Yayaati”. Manoj has also directed a variety of plays of different genre including “Arey Sharif Log” – a comedy, “Mere Bachche” an adaptation of Arthur Miller’s “All My Children”, “The Interview” - a psychological thriller and most recently “Taconic Parkway”, a psychological drama.