Amba Sanyal

Shrimati Amba Sanyal was born in 1945 in Delhi. Daughter of singer-actress Snehalata Sanyal and the eminent artist B.C. Sanyal, Amba studied fine arts first at the College of Art in Delhi, where she took her diploma in 1967. She was a scholar of liberal arts at Santiniketan between 1967 and 1968, and in 1970 resumed her studies in fine arts at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, on a French Government scholarship. Shrimati Amba Sanyal struck a relationship with the stage in her childhood, and her many- sided involvement has grown over the years. She worked first in Delhi Art Theatre productions by Shiela Bhatia, performing major roles, and then in plays directed by E. Alkazi, Amal Allana, and Habib Tanvir. She also danced in a lead role in the annual Bharatiya Kala Kendra production of Ramlila between 1963 and 1967. Subsequently, Shrimati Sanyal worked simultaneously in several spheres — art education, crafts design, book illustration — and returned to the theatre in the 1990s as a costume designer. Her first costume was for Maya Rao’s performance of The Job (1997), followed by costumes for the NSD Repertory production of Azizunnissa, 1857 ka Kissa (1998), directed by Tripurari Sharma. She then worked on costumes for the latter’s productions of Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba (NSD, 1999) and that same year for Ram Gopal Bajaj’s production of Gorki’s Lower Depths and K.N. Panikkar’s Swapn Katha (both for National School of Drama). Her subsequent work includes costumes for Romeo and Juliet in Technicolour directed by Roysten Abel (NSD, 2000), and Loona produced by Tripurari Sharma for Alaripu (2000). Shrimati Sanyal has also designed costumes for films by Pankaj Butalia and Dev Benegal, and has conducted a short-term course in costume design at the National School of Drama. She has published three books on saris of Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar in a series on Saris of India. Her other publication include a comic book for Unicef and a children’s book for NOMA, which received an award in an international contest. For her work on the stage, she received a commemoration from the Bharatiya Kala Kendra in 2006. For her contribution to Indian theatre as costume designer, Shrimati Amba Sanyal receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.