Theatre in India is almost 1000 years old. Though the various forms of theatre thrived in India over years, its presence on a global platform is negligible. Indian theatre needs to gain a global recognition in this field.Aiming to contribute to the growth and development of theatre in the country and across, National School of Drama has been organising Bharat Rang Mahotsav, International Theatre Festival of India. Started in the 1999, the festival is the largest theatre festival in Asia. The first edition of this fest featured only five plays which have increased to 200 in the 17th edition of the festival that started off in the Capital on February 1 at Kamani Auditorium. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State of Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) & Civil Aviation Member inaugurated the event in the presence of eminent theatre and film personality Om Puri, Ratan Thiyam, Chairman, NSD Society and Waman Kendre, Director NSD.War-themed play Ghazab Teri Adaa, directed by Waman Kendre, Director NSD, opened the festival. The play, set in an imaginary time and place, revolves around the never ending aspiration for an expansion of kingdom by the King. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix82 productions in 23 languages and performances by 125 groups which includes over 15 international performances will be the highlight of the theatre extravaganza. Themed with Breaking the Borders, the festival will see participation of countries like – USA, UK, Germany, China, France, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Israel, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, among others. The festival will also travel to other parts of the country with plays being showcased in Agartala , Jabalpur , Aurangabad and Panaji. Kendre said, “The festival needs more promotion and projection. We aspire to make it bigger than the two largest theatre festivals – Edinburgh and Avignon.” Kendre also proposed a Theatre Olympics in India that would stage around 2000 national and international plays hosted by NSD.Om Puri, who was the special guest of the evening and also alumni of NSD unveiled the brochure of the festival. Recalling his days on the stage, the actor stated “I want to get back to the stage once again. Theatre keeps me high. I am grateful to NSD for making me what I am today.”The National-award-winning actor also stressed on making NSD the national face of drama of the country. Puri noted,”Only Marathi and Bengali theatre are sustaining in the country besides a few. Compared to foreign countries, our theatre lacks stage craft. We have acting and direction potential but need to work on stage skills.” Ratan Thiyam pointed out the lack of funds for production in the country. He said, “There are many people who have given themselves completely to theatre but are economically suffering. Even I had to find out an alternative each time I headed for some production of according which I wished due to lack of funds.”Mahesh Sharma emphasised on the promotion, propagation and expansion of Indian form of theatre in the country and abroad. He noted, “I’m honoured to be present here among the talented artistes and theatre lovers. Indian theatre needs to be recognised on a global level which NSD can do. I will try to provide every possible help to NSD to make it the face of Indian drama.”The festival this year pays tribute to the veterans like Shambhu Mitra, Begum Akhtar and Veenapani Chawla. This will include performances, exhibitions, and lectures on the three artistes.A Theatre Bazaar is also organised in the festival. It is a complete package of cultural extravaganza with several other activities.