Born in 1950 in Amritsar, Shrimati Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry took her Master’s degree in art history at the Punjab University, Chandigarh. Subsequently, she attended the National School of Drama in Delhi, where she specialized in acting, and qualified for her Diploma in 1975. Shrimati Chowdhry worked for Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal from 1980 to 1984 — where she was involved with the folk arts — and in 1990 joined the Department of Indian Theatre, Punjab University. Based in Chandigarh since that time, she has taught acting in her university and has simultaneously pursued an independent career as a director.
Shrimati Chowdhry’s direct- orial work has been disting- uished by its imaginative employment of theatrical arts and narrative material from her native Punjab, wedded to contemporary themes. Woman has remained a focal point in her productions of plays such as Jean Giradoux’s The Mad- woman of Chaillot, Surjit Patar’s Kitchen Katha, and Girish Karnad’s Nagamandala. Among her other noteworthy productions are Racine’s Phaedra and Lorca’s Yerma. The latter play directed by her has represented India in the London International Festival of Theatre, while Nagamandala was staged in the first International Festival of Theatre in Tashkent. Shrimati Chowdhry’s creative work necessitated the creation of her own company in 1984, consisting of both rural and urban actors. Simply called The Company, it has attracted attention for its innovative work.
Films on The Company have been commissioned and shown on Doordarshan and BBC’s Channel 4.
Besides her work on the stage, Shrimati Chowdhry has organized a seminar on tradition and modernity in Chandigarh, and has presented papers in seminars held in various countries in Europe, and also in Australia and Japan.
Shrimati Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribution to Indian theatre as a director.