The DSM Comes to Thane

Open Day Series: Akshay Shimpi in Thane!

The first DSM Open Day workshop in Thane!

After successfully conducting workshops across Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, DSM Open Day comes to Thane for the very first time!

Thane has traditionally been a place which cares about its arts and culture. And it is with the same love for the arts and theatre that DSM visits the city.

Get a chance to experience world-class training and know more about the Post Graduate Diploma in Acting and Theatre-making at The Drama School Mumbai during its Open Day Series which has already travelled to 3 other cities. Here leading theatre-makers, who also happen to be DSM faculty, will show you what students at the school are taught as a part of their training. This is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.
About the Facilitator:

Akshay Shimpi

Akshay Shimpi has a Masters of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the Mumbai University. Akshay is a well revered theatre-maker with over a decade of experience in the field. He is the faculty for Speech and Text at the DSM.  

In over a decade of working in theatre and film, Akshay Shimpi has done more than 30 plays and 7 short films that have toured festivals across India. He performs in both Hindi and Marathi and has been part of productions like Naag-Mandal, Ghashiram Kotwal, Hayvadan and Ram Sanjeevani ki Premkatha. He received acclaim for his portrayal of freedom fighter Anant Kanhere in the Marathi film 1909. His recent work with Astitva, Agdeech Shoonya is currently touring across Maharashtra.


ExpressionLab@theDSM: दशानन: A solo performance by Harish Kulkarni

Dashanan is a solo performance. A single man on stage telling the story of Ravan. It is a story we all know. The story of Lanka’s demon king. But maybe not the whole story. We know the ten-headed demon for his greed and lust.  But Ravan was also a great king – renowned for good governance. He was an accomplished warrior and a devotee of Shiva. This solo performance concentrates on the oft-missed colours and flavours of a myth. And the people in his life. Thus does this tale become a commentary of on the social and political conditions of today.

About the Playwright: Pradeep Vaiddya

Pradeep Vaiddya has been working in theatre for over twenty years. He has been a writer, director, music composer, singer, light designer, theatre trainer and theatre manager. A household name in Pune, Pradeep was part of the India Theatre Forum’s first arts management programme. He has won a META for Best Light Design in 2007, 2011 & 2016.  His founded Expression Lab that focuses on enabling new artists through solo performances.

About the Director: Suyog D. Deshpande

Suyog has been working in experimental theatre for the past 6 years, mainly with Aasakta Kalamanch and Expression Lab. 

About Performer : Harish Kulkarni

Harish graduated from The Drama School Mumbai in 2013-14 and has since acted in several plays and films. Dashanan is his second solo performance @theDSM.

Training Session by Jehan Manekshaw: The DSM comes to Delhi

Open Day: Training sessions by Jehan Manekshaw

After successful Open Days in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune the DSM now comes to Delhi with a free training session by Jehan Manekshaw on Sunday, 9 April, 10 am at The Tadpole Repertory.
Ever dreamed of seeing yourself on stage? Every wondered about your first stage performance in theatre? Ever wanted to make theatre your career? Well, look no further, because the DSM Open Day is HERE!
The idea behind the DSM Open Day Training sessions is to bring free workshops to various cities. Each training session is conducted by DSM faculty. Our faculty comprises of leading theatre-makers and arts managers.  The sessions will show you what students at the school are taught. It is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.

About the Facilitator: Jehan Manekshaw

MFA (Theatre Direction) Birkbeck, University of London
Jehan is one of the founders of The Drama School Mumbai. He has taught as guest faculty at Ninasam Theatre Institute, Karnataka, Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Shinshu University, Japan, and the National School of Drama’s T.I.E division in Agartala. He also has directed numerous plays in different languages in India, the US, UK, and Japan. Jehan founded Theatre Professionals in 2008 and The Drama School Mumbai in 2013. Jehan has most recently received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar for his organisation’s work in the advancement of the practice of Theatre. At theDSM, Jehan teaches scene study and leads the design module.
Oh, and the Open Day Training Session by Jehan Manekshaw is completely FREE and open to all!
To sign up, write to us on or give us a call on 9619336336

Conversations@theDSM: Ramu Ramanathan & Gurleen Judge

Conversations are a tradition in theatre. And so, the DSM brings an entire series of discussions, talks and conversations, curated for the first weekend of every month. Our purpose in these conversations is twofold. First, we celebrate the bond between guru-shishya. Teachers in school, professors in college, coaches at the gym and directors in the rehearsal hall – all mentors have taught you something through conversations. That something makes you the person you are today.
The second purpose in these conversations is to celebrate Rekha Sabnis.
Rekha Sabnis was a one-woman theatre army. She ran theatre group Abhivyakti from her house. She took care of sets, costumes, bookings, transport, tickets as well as acting and directing. Abhivyakti starting performing at the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, the same building that houses the DSM today. Rekha Sabnis was a key force behind the DSM-Sahitya Sangh partnership. And this partnership makes our work forging a new generation of theatre-makers, possible.
Rekha passed away in September last year, studying elements of the Natya Shastra till the very last.
Conversations@theDSM starts this Sunday. It is our small way of paying tribute to a great spirit who made theatre a little bit better for us all. These conversations form part of an ongoing series of talks between theatre-makers young and old. The entire series has been curated by Yugandhar Deshpande and Anuja Kale of TheatreAcross.
For the first conversation, we have young director Gurleen Judge talking to her mentor and teacher Ramu Ramanathan, a name in theatre that needs little introduction.
Date: 9th April 2017
Time: 10 am
Venue: 5th floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Kele Wadi, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai 400004.

Alumni@theDSM: Performances by new theatre-makers

Over the next 4 months, past students of The Drama School Mumbai will bring their performances back their school. This is a special feature of “Alumni@theDSM” season of performances. It is a choice selection of new performances by a new generation of theatre-makers who started their journey at the DSM.  The first performance in this series is Chenda, a play devised by BeTaal.


BeTaal is a group of theatre enthusiasts who believe in the off-beat, the breaking of rhythm and going BeTaal. Vaishnavi Rp (2015-16) and Abhinav Grover (2014-15) founded this group last year. Thus far they have embarked on 3 projects: Chenda, Paanchvaali and Mere Abba Mughal-e-Azaam.

A Chenda is a South Indian cylindrical percussion instrument whose ends are covered, usually with animal’s skin. This instrument is famous for its loud and rigid sound. The first is a performance called Chenda which is about a folk artist who realizes that his dead cow’s soul has come into his Chenda. The play opened at Thespo last year.
Playwright:  Abhinav Grover

Crew: Vaishnavi Ratna Prashant, Seewant Kushal, Siddharth Raghuvanshi, Srinivas, Venu Madhav Bhatt, Rishabh Kanti.

Language: Hindi

Performance Duration: 60 mins


For tickets, click here:

For more details, call 9619336336 / mail


Hear ye! Hear ye! The Mule's Foal is coming your way!

After 24 weeks of intensive training with the finest theatre-makers in acting, speech, body movements and theatre lessons, Batch 2016-17 of The Drama School Mumbai is ready with its first performance for the masses in the form of “The Mule’s Foal.”

Based on the short novel by Fotini Epanomitis, and adapted by Australian playwright Alan Becher, The Mule’s Foal is a tale about love, longing, gossip and a village where nothing makes sense! Under the co-directorship of theatre-makers Puja Sarup and Sheena Khalid, the students of DSM showcase their theatre chops in this new Hindi translation by Neha Sharma.  As a part of their curriculum, the students are given the opportunity to tour multiple cities with the production of the play.

“This is a show that is as much devised as it is scripted and in that sense the students have contributed so much to the creation of the show,” the directors said of this collaborative effort by the students of the DSM.

The show opened on the 4th and 5th of March at The Drama School Mumbai. Dates of the subsequent performances are given below. To book your tickets, do log on to


7th March, 6:30pm – NCPA XP, Mumbai

11th March, 3:30pm – Ranga Shankara, Bangalore

11th March, 7:30pm – Ranga Shankara, Bangalore

26th March, 11am – Sudarshan Rangmanch, Pune

27th March, 6pm – Lalit Kala Kendra, Pune

1st April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

8th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

15th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

16th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai


Open Day Series: The DSM comes to your city!

Want to make theatre your career? Well, look no further, because the DSM Open Day Series is HERE!

Get a chance to experience world-class training and know more about the Post Graduate Diploma in Acting and Theatre-making at The Drama School Mumbai during its Open Day Series which travels to 7 cities across the next 2 months. Here leading theatre-makers, who also happen to be DSM faculty, will show you what students at the school are taught as a part of their training. This is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.

Oh, and the Open Day is completely FREE and open to all!

The Open Day campaign kicks off on the 11th of March with free workshops in Mumbai and Bangalore. If you’re in Mumbai, you have the opportunity to get 2 free sessions by Akshay Shimpi and Roo Jhala-Mclaughlin.

Akshay Shimpi is an alumni of the University of Mumbai Theatre Arts Department and has performed in various plays and short films. Roo graduated from the Oxford School of Drama, UK and specializes in Shakespeare and Theatre-in-Education. These are two workshops that will leave you breathless yet self-aware!


In Bangalore, the co-founder and co-convenor of The Drama School Mumbai himself is coming down to bring the rigour and intensity of the school through a 3 hour workshop in the foyer space of Ranga Shankara. Jehan, a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, has his Masters in Theatre Direction from Birkbeck, University of London. You can explore the idea of creating meaning onstage through moments of action with Jehan and also talk to him about how exactly does someone become a theatre professional in India. 

Sign up for these right away, because these workshops do tend to fill up real fast! And if you can’t make it to Bangalore or Mumbai on the 11th, get in touch anyway and we’ll keep you posted about the next Open Day closest to you. Also, if you’d like to arrange for an open day in your city, drop us a line and we’ll do our best to work something out for you.

Call +919619336336 to block a spot right away!


The Mule's Fuel: Meet the ladies behind the scene

Over the past few months a synchronized cacophony had taken over The Drama School Mumbai. The noisemakers do bear a grudging resemblance to the students of the DSM however, and the source of their choral equivocations is the DSM annual student production.

This year round, the students take on The Mule’s Foal, a play adapted by Alan Becher from an award-winning novel by Fotini Epanomitis – a story about families, love and the eternal joy of gossip.

The play opened to some serious bouts of hilarity on the 4th of March and gave us the opportunity to profile the women who have been working tirelessly for weeks to make it happen – Sheena Khalid and Puja Sarup the co-directors of the work and Sonal Kharade, the designing hand behind the curious costumes the students don for the show.

Puja Sarup and Sheena Khalid

Sheena and Puja’s Mumbai-based theatre company Patchworks Ensemble is known to tackle the big issues through the funny bone. The company’s first production Ila based on a story by Devdutt Pattanaik is about a King who transforms into a female with the changing phases of the moon, while their outrageously entertaining Gentleman’s Club aka Tape explores drag kings of a fictional underground club in Mumbai. This narrative about negotiations with gender is also present in The Mule’s Foal, but Puja and Sheena don’t choose projects to make ‘statements’, it’s always the story that attracts them first. And for The Mule’s Foal, it wasn’t just the story, but the poetic spaces present in it. “These spaces are not about the profound monologues uttered, but the human moments in the play” says Puja, “and in the sheer velocity of lives that it depicts,” adds Sheena.

They believe in working with their actors as facilitators- allowing them to develop the project as much as perform it. “When one does devised work, one does not know where to attack. So we use a lot of movement and music as our basic starting point. In this way we first put it into the body before feeding on the text,” says Sheena. Despite the anecdotal nature of The Mule’s Foal, the directors initiated the DSM students into the play through the bodywork of its chorus before deconstructing its language. Even the script of the play, which has been translated into Hindi by Neha Sharma, is continuously being written and and re-written by the directors and students during rehearsals. “It is  only on the floor that the rhythm of the scene can be known, where to pump it or chop it…” says Puja before demonstrating her point by fixing an imaginary machine with loose screws with her being the technician and the tool (with a complete audio soundtrack.)  

The Mule’s Foal is the first production in which the duo have worked with actors-in-training.

When asked about this experience Sheena says, “The DSM students are very committed. When you come to a professional environment you are most probably working on multiple plays. But in drama school you are pushing yourself harder and longer for a single production. The directors feel they have learnt a lot from their students including how to squawk like a crow, and perfectionists that they are, they make multiple attempts to hit the right note while squawking for this interviewer’s benefit .  

Sheena Khalid is a graduate of the London International School of Performing Arts and Puja from the Helikos International School of Theatre, Italy find theatre rewarding in all ways. Narrating an anecdote Puja says,“The first character that I played professionally on stage was of a blonde bimbo in Atul Kumar’s “Noises Off.” If the same part was for the screen, I would not have fit in. Theatre is the only space you can play anything and everything.”

When asked about the challenges of doing theatre as women Khalid explains, “I don’t think I can ever over-emphasize on how much of a community sense there is in theatre, that does not discriminate against gender at all, as opposed to other spaces of work. We have always had help.” She bangs the wooden table in front of her thrice for good luck.

It was in 2011 that Puja and Sheena first met at a Bunraku Puppet workshop and discovered a possibility for a collaboration. When asked what keeps them ‘patched’ together Sarup answers, “Our collective madness and desire to take risks with our work.” Then after a moment of retrospection, “Also I wouldn’t have done this on my own. Its way too much work.” 

“Way too much thankless work,” adds Sheena with a laugh.  

Sonal Kharade (Image: Maneesh Verma)

For Sonal Kharade the costume designer of The Mule’s Foal, working with the directors is familiar territory, having been part of their production It’s About Time which opened at NCPA’s Centrestage last December. “I love working with them,” says Sonal, “Woh dono kuch seedha nahi karte hai!” For the “bizarre” look of The Mule’s Foal she has gathered Turkish and Tribal prints of surrealistic vibrancy, that look straight out of a bohemian boutique. “Theatre has tight budgets but I like that challenge,” she says and reveals the location of her material sourcing – the lanes and bylanes of local markets like Mangaldas and Saroj in the city.  

Sonal’s career as a costume designer had been accidental. A student of interior designing, she just loved being part of the production process in theatre. In 2009, when the costume designer of Geetanjali Kulkarni’s Ek Rikami Baju decided to quit the show mid-way, Sonal who was helping with the play was asked to fill in those shoes. The response to her work was so well appreciated that she went on to do more such projects. Today she designs costumes for several theatre companies in Mumbai and Pune including for directors like Manav Kaul and and Atul Kumar.

Sonal’s costumes come to life in The Mule’s Foal

Sonal admits that as she had not formally studied costume designing understanding different body types was initially difficult for her. “I have learnt everything on the job,”she says. It is with this learned on-ground sense of aesthetics that she creates costumes like the blood red anarkali for Sanjukta Wagh, which was worn by the Kathak dancer on an outdoor stage against the backdrop of the sea. The New York Times described it as the most “ravishing outfit” of that evening at The Battery Dance Festival in New York.  

Though Kharade works for commercials and films alongside theatre projects she finds the latter more fulfilling. “The actor spends so much time in his garment that one has to concentrate much more on its detailing and comfort,” she says while checking the stitching of a bold pink costume that  opens up to form a dull grey piece, for a character in the play who has a  dual role.  

Puja, Sheena and Sonal have made the DSM student production into a piece of theatre that demands attention and provokes laughter in the midst of misery. They have of course been supported by a stellar team and the enthusiasm of the DSM students. The Mule’s Foal goes on tour this week, so do catch a show near you through March and April.

 – Written by Payal Mohta


Rooted: The Story of India's Rural Theatre

Indian theatre is deeply rooted, not just in the traditions of Sanskrit Drama as explained in Bharata’s Natyashastra, but also very significantly in folk dance and music, as well as tribal rituals and ceremonies. Post the Victorian hangover there have been attempts by organisations like the Indian People’s Theatre Association, the Progressive Writer’s Association and the Youth Cultural Institute (none by the government) to rescue vernacular theatre from the shadow of the proscenium-based English Theatre. That is why we have put together a list of theatre spaces that mark the rural landscape of India, making theatre with the people from whom we have inherited the very language of theatre.     



Naya Theatre evolved from Nacha, the Chhattisgarhi folk theatre. It is the legacy of the late PadmaShri Habib Tanvir. A graduate of the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art, UK Tanvir established his own theatre troupe Naya Theatre in 1959 with handpicked folk artists in Bhopal. The artists of Naya Theatre spoke their own local dialect which eliminated any inhibition arising out of language and retained their particular dramatic skills which were often in opposition to English theatre training. For Tanvir the consideration of the sensibilities of the folk artists was an integral part of the creative process.  A lot of research, from books, folk songs and conversations, and vigorous editing would go into creating the first draft of the plays. A report from Livemint states that for his play Bahadur Kalarin, on a son’s incestuous feelings for his mother, he chatted with people in Chhattisgarh on the topic before they were told the story of the play and asked to improvise dialogue and movements. Tanvir’s irrevocable conviction in the rich culture of Nacha and his commitment towards the folk community  gave rise to milestones in Indian theatre like Charandas Chor, Gaon ka Naam Sasural, Mor Naam Damad and Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna. Though Naya Theatre today is in need of new actors and plays, Tanvir’s daughter Nageen Tanvir is striving to carry on the troupe in all its vitality.  

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Nageen Tanvir in rehearsal with artists of Naya Theatre




Kalakshetra Manipur (KKM) established in 1969 by the late stalwart Heisnam Kanhailal and his wife Sabitri as a space that presents “Theatre of the Earth”. In an interview with NEZINE Kanhailal explained the ideology behind this specific form of theatre, “….theatre must become a voice for the voiceless, a means that gives the power and strength to the disempowered to resist and take on the challenges.” These marginalised voices in Kanhailal’s plays are often non-actors of the oppressed communities themselves. New Theatre Quarterly 29 mentions three such productions – Nupi Lan (1989), Sanjennaha (1979) and Thanghou Leh Liandou (1980).

Nupi Lan (Women’s War) was created through improvisations with around 70 working women from the famous Women’s Market of Imphal. Images of women in the Manipuri Lai Haraoba (ritual celebrations), in the market haggling and those of surviving, militant Manipuri women in political agitations became the aesthetics of the play.  In Sanjennaha (Cowherd) the plight of the actors ,who were villagers, was inextricably linked with the narrative of the exploited cowherd in the play. Thanghou Leh Liandou engaged the tribal youth of the Paite community, reminding them of a cultural heritage they were in the process of forgetting through imposed westernization. Kanhailal’s ardent commitment to devising a unique form of Manipuri theatre through silence and minimalism has given KKM a venerable reputation both nationally and internationally. As of the last decade KKM, which is located on the foothills of Imphal is moving out of its ethnic culture to the rural and natural environment of Assam and Tripura.

Heisnam Sabitri in KKM’s ‘Draupadi’
Heisnam Sabitri in KKM’s ‘Draupadi’




Nilakanteshwara Natyaseva Samgha, better known as Ninasam is Karnataka’s cultural powerhouse located deep in the hinterland of the state’s Heggodu village. Established in 1949, this brainchild of renowned dramatist and Magsaysay award winner, K. V. Subbanna is dedicated to the dissemination of theatre and culture. Evolving from a small amateur theatre troupe, today Ninasam has a one year diploma course in theatre with emphasis on working in non-urban conditions. Its impressive infrastructure consists of a one of a kind 700 seat auditorium, its only kind in rural India, for the performance of various art forms. Almost 80% of its past students are active in non-commercial theatre and cultural activities, while aspiring students from across class, caste and gender come from all corners of Karnataka to Ninasam. Its theatre group Tirugata, completely localized, performs almost 120 shows each year, to an estimated of 20 lakh people covering almost all districts of Karnataka. According to a report by the The Hindu some of the biggest names in theatre from B.V. Karnath to Fritz Bennewitz have directed Ninasam productions. Ooru Mane Utsava is the organisation’s theatre and culture festival that involves villagers from all around Heggodu. The theatre activities at Ninasam only form a minuscule part of the sum of its cultural activities ranging from film appreciation courses, intellectual debates on the cultural politics of Karnataka and a 7-10 day long workshop on cultural appreciation. The participants for this event forms a daunting figure of 2000 people including students, teachers, rural cultural activists, journalists, housewives as well as thinkers, intellectuals and artists from all over the country. What makes Ninasam remarkable is that it has single-handedly enriched and empowered the cultural topography of rural Karnataka, becoming a model of inspiration for the rest of the country.  

The students of The Drama School, Mumbai is set to do a week-long residency at Ninasam in this March and hope to breathe in some of this visionary work.

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Ninasam at Heggodu, Karnataka




The Kattaikkuttu Sangam formed in 1990, is an organisation that integrates liberal education and the performing arts with an aim to promote and contemporize the art of Kattaikkuttu – the theatre of the rural people in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Based in the small village of Punjarasantankal, Kattaikkuttu Sangam is the only residential school for Kattaikkuttu. The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam (Youth Theatre School) of the Sangam offers a training course in Kattaikkuttu for young rural Tamil boys and girls while providing them support to become professionals in the ancient art form. The students can also join the organisation’s theatre companies- The Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals, All Girls Company and The Junior Company. The Annual Kattaikkuttu Theatre Festival of the organisation brings Kattaikkuttu to local audiences, urban theatre enthusiasts, scholars and tourists. Kattaikkuttu Sangam is an indispensable theatre organ for the country for it  has become a platform for folk artists to get together from all parts of Tamil Nadu and revive this dying theatre of Kattaikkuttu.  




The centuries old theatre tradition of Karnataka- Yakshagana is what the  Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi strives to keep alive. Steeped in Indian mythology, Yakshagana is a vibrant blend of folk and classical modes with ornate forms of costume and make-up. To promote Yakshagana on various levels the Kendra offers a residential programme that combines formal education along with training in Yakshagana, while its troupe Yaksha Ranga consists  of almost 100 artists that engage in local and national performances. It also also acts as a center of research and documentation for Yakshagana by publishing books on it.  

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While doing research for this article, we were hard-pressed to find examples of such organizations. If any of our readers do know of some we should have covered, please do write in and we’ll do our best to include them. Because, in a world that is threateningly being consumed by a homogenizing global culture these organisations act as preservers and re-inventors of indigenous art forms. Which then allows theatre to become a people’s channel through the ages. 

Shadows of Fire: NaireetBasak@theDSM

Shadows Of Fire 1

Shadows Of Fire is a solo performance that emerged from Butoh. It delves into the subconscious of the body and mind and tries to call out to the fire hidden within us. This fire physically has no shadow, but emerges every time it is evoked. This piece explores the birth of an untamed creature, its growth and its play with the different elements found in nature. It looks for freedom from all these, with help from the balance of the ambers and blues in a body, but gets stuck in a dilemma of energy. Does it escape the cacophony of the watchful eyes or does it perish? The question remains answered. Shadows Of Fire has been inspired by Naireet’s body-watching and exploration of the elements in the body that were realized into a dramatic piece while practicing Butoh.  A highly interpretative piece, he expects audiences (and himself) to be “surprised” each time with the energies of the performance.  

Click here for a glimpse of Shadows Of Fire at the Butoh Festival at Mcleodjang, Himachal in May 2016.

Naireet is a theatre-maker and performer whose primary interest is in telling stories through moving body images. He has trained intensively in Kalaripayatu and Butoh and worked with Clowning, Tai-chi, Kudiyattam, contemporary dance and various other theatre-making forms. He has been involved with Children’s Theatre both as an actor and director in Kolkata. Last year he directed Love Circus – a six actor movement performance piece in Kolkata.

Date: 25th Feb

Time: 7 PM

Cost: Rs 200/- per ticket

Venue: 5th Floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Dr Bhalerao Marg, Charni Road Kele Wadi, Mumbai-400002

Call 9619336336 for details