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Manohar Singh (1938 – 14 November 2002) was a distinguished[1][2] Indian theatre actor-director and character actor in Hindi films. He is best known for his performances in films such as Party (1984) and Daddy (1989). Starting his acting career from theatre, he went on to become a theatre director and later the chief of National School of Drama Repertory Company, 1976 to 1988, before switching to cinema.[3] As a theatre actor his best known performances were in Tughlaq, directed by Ebrahim Alkazi; Himmat Mai and Begum Barve by Nissar and Amal Allana.[4]

Manohar Singh
Manohar Singh.jpg
Singh in the play Tughlaq.
DiedNovember 2002 (aged 63–64)
Years active1971–2002
Awards1982 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award

He was awarded the 1982 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Acting (Hindi theatre) by Sangeet Natak Akademi. In 2003, a photo exhibition on his work in theatre was organized at the Art Heritage gallery, Delhi chronicling his journey in theatre starting from his first play The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1968), as a student at the National School of Drama, to plays such as Tughlaq, King Lear, Kaho Katha Khajuraho Ki, Himmat Mai (Mother Courage) and The Threepenny Opera.[5]

He provides the voice-over in the annual Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra production "Ram". The audience can hear the commentary in his voice, providing structure and continuity to the narrative.



Born in 1938 in a small village called Kwara near Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Manohar Singh got his first job in the state government-run Drama Division. He graduated from National School of Drama (NSD) in 1971, and soon after started directing plays with NSD Repertory Company, starting with Qatl Ki Hawas in 1971.[6] Later in 1976 he became the second chief of the NSD Repertory Company and remained so until 1988. He was awarded the 1982 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, dance and Drama.[7]

He is best known for his spectacular performance in the title role of Tughlaq, directed by his mentor Ebrahim Alkazi, the founder of NSD. After quitting NSD in the late 80s, he got active in the Delhi theatre scene, doing some memorable plays such as Pagla Raja (King Lear), Himmat Mai (Brecht's Mother Courage), Begum Barve and Nagamandalam (Girish Karnad), with well-known theatre personalities, Amal and Nissar Allana.[4]

He had a long film and television career that started with the controversial film based on an emergency, Kissa Kursi Ka, that also starred Shabana Azmi. He did Govind Nihalani's Party, Mrinal Sen's Ek Din Achanak, Yeh Woh Manzil To Nahin, Rudaali, Daddy and went to play many powerful roles in over 27 films, including some mainstream films such as Chandni and Lamhe with Yash Chopra. His last film was Everybody Says I'm Fine! in 2001.

He appeared in many successful serials on television including Neena Gupta's Dard and Pal Chhin.

He died of lung cancer on 14 November 2002, in New Delhi.[8][9]





  • Caucasian Chalk Circle (1968)
  • Antigone (1975)
  • Tughlaq (1975)
  • Look Back in Anger
  • Othello
  • Danton's Death
  • King Lear
  • Three Penny Opera
  • Nagamandal
  • Kaho Katha Khajuraho Ki
  • Himmat Mai
  • Begum Barve


In 2003, NSD instituted an award in his memory, titled Manohar Singh Smriti Puruskar, to be awarded to a young graduate (up to the age of 50) of the school.[10][11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Smt Swaraj condoles Manohar Singh's death Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, 14 November 2002.
  2. ^ Shanta Kumar Condoles the death of Manohar Singh PIB, Ministry of Rural Development, 15 November 2002.
  3. ^ Previous Chiefs of Repertory Company Archived 7 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine National School of Drama website.
  4. ^ a b "Stage artiste with a perfect entry who made a premature exit". The Tribune. 11 May 2003.
  5. ^ "Manohar Lives On". The Indian Express. 30 March 2003.
  6. ^ "Alumni List For The Year 1971". National School of Drama Official website.
  7. ^ Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Awards): Theatre Acting: Hindi Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Sangeet Natak Akademi website.
  8. ^ Manohar Singh, one of Indian TV's original patriarchs
  9. ^ Manohar Singh passes away
  10. ^ NSD Annual Report 2006-06 Archived 18 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Capital Fest, Manipuri Taste

Further readingEdit

  • Manohar Singh (Monograph on his life), Jaidev Taneja, NSD PUBLICATIONS, 2002.

External linksEdit