Jury Members

Akash Khurana

In a span of over four decades, Dr. Akash Khurana has worked extensively with Satyadev Dubey, Sunil Shanbag, and Naseeruddin Shah, and is a core member of Arpana, Motley, and Akvarious Productions, three of India’s foremost theatre companies. His production of Vijay Tendulkar’s A Friend’s Story, was performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. His most recent production was Under the Gypsy Moon, adapted from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Srikanta, and directed for Aadyam, an Aditya Birla Group initiative. He was Managing Editor of the theatre journal OVATION, and the Artistic Advisor to the National Centre for the Performing Arts’ Repertory Theatre. He has acted in nearly 60 films and has won the Nandi Award of Andhra Pradesh for playing the lead in the Telugu film Dr. Ambedkar. 

He has written over 20 screenplays, including Baazigar, for which he got the Filmfare Award. For television, he has written over 200 episodes and acted in 15 serials.

Anmol Vellani

Anmol Vellani is the founder and former Executive Director of India Foundation for the Arts, a grant-making organisation, and co-founder of Toto Funds the Arts, which supports emerging talent in India. His essays and talks have covered arts entrepreneurship, intercultural dialogue, culture and development, cultural mapping, arts collaboration and transgressive art, among other subjects. He has directed over 40 theatre productions in different languages in India and abroad. More recently, he has forayed into lighting design and adapting fiction for the stage. He trains performing artists in such areas as voice, character building and script analysis.

Ila Arun

Ila Arun is an actress, singer and TV personality. She initially made her name by writing short plays for All India Radio and later won a scholarship to the National School of Drama where she studied under Ebrahim Alkazi. In 1982, she started her own theatre group, Surnai, which has gone on to produce over 300 shows in India and abroad.  Ila Arun is known for her script-writing and has adapted several well-known plays into an Indian context. She wrote Riyaz which went on to garner huge popularity. Internationally, she has appeared in several productions, including House of Bilquis Bibi, which was staged in London. She appeared in Jodha Akbar, Shaadi ke Side Effects, amongst others. 

In 2014, she was commissioned by the Royal Norwegian Embassy to start the ‘Ibsen Festival of Theatre’ in Mumbai and has organised the festival since its inception.

Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Kulbhushan Kharbanda is an eminent actor. He started his career in theatre by forming a theatre group called Abhiyaan with his college friends. In 1972, he moved to Kolkata and started working with Padatik theatre group under director Shyamanand Jalan. A few years later, he moved to Mumbai and worked extensively with Shyam Benegal. Best known for portraying the villain "Shakaal" in the 1980 Hindi movie Shaan, Kulbhushan has also received critical acclaim for his roles in Parallel Cinema, an Indian film movement that emerged in the 1950s as an alternative to commercial Indian cinema, and in several Bollywood films. Most recently, he appears in the hugely popular Amazon web series Mirzapur.

Lynne Fernandez

Lynne Fernandez is a trained Psychologist and spent the first years of her professional life working with seriously disturbed young adults, at a facility in Bangalore, India. The next phase of her life saw her work as a successful Tour Director with a high-end Travel company, which allowed her to travel extensively across India and Nepal, during which she would lecture on Indian culture and wildlife. She has worked as an actress and light designer with many notable directors including Barry John, Joy Michael, Ranjit Kapoor, and Lillete Dubey, and was amongst the first practising light designers (and perhaps the first woman Lighting Directors) in India. Her theatre work has been presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in the West End and off-Broadway. Lynne came to Nrityagram in 1993 as Production and Technical consultant to the newly founded Ensemble. She stayed on as Technical Director and in 1997 was appointed Managing Trustee of the Odissi Dance Centre Trust which oversees Nrityagram Village, School and Ensemble. As Lighting Director of Nrityagram, Lynne has lit the Ensemble on stages across India (from NCPA, Mumbai to Konarak, Odisha, Music Academy, Chennai to the Purana Qila, Delhi) and the globe, including The Joyce Theatre, New York, Sydney Opera House, Royal Festival Hall, London, The Esplanade, Singapore, and others.

Mukund Padmanabhan

Until recently, Mukund Padmanabhan was the editor of The Hindu. Earlier, he was the editor of The Hindu Business Line. Mukund has an M.Phil in Philosophy and briefly worked as a lecturer at the University of Delhi before switching to journalism. He is interested in and has written about politics, legal affairs, and literature. He was an adjunct faculty at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, where he taught law and advanced writing to post-graduate students. He has curated two festivals of theatre and music — The Hindu Theatre Fest, and The Hindu November Fest. He also curates an annual thought conclave called The Huddle.

Sunil Kothari

Dr. Sunil Kothari is a internationally renowned dance historian, scholar, author and critic. He has written more than twenty definitive works on classical Indian dance forms. He has been a professor at Rabindra Bharati University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and New York University. He is a Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, a prolific writer and dance critic. He has been closely associated with Chorus Repertory Theatre and has travelled with Ratan Thiyam and company the world over.

Sunit Tandon

Sunit Tandon is presently Director of the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. He has previously been Festival Director of the International Film Festival of India, Goa, and General Manager of the National Film Development Corporation. He is also a well-known news and current affairs anchor on Indian national television and a radio broadcaster.

He has worked with Delhi theatre groups Yatrik, Stagedoor and Masque amongst others. He has acted in over 200 plays and has directed more than 30. He is currently also President of the Delhi Music Society, the oldest society in the capital devoted to the teaching, appreciation and promotion of Western classical music. He was till recently also Director of Yatrik, the oldest theatre group in the capital.