Born on 8 May 1953 in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha received his formal training in theatre and got his Diploma in 1977 from Bhartendu Natya Kendra, Lucknow with specialization in Direction. That was the first batch of what came to be known as Bhartendu Natya Academy (BNA) later. A science graduate who also did LLB, Shri Kulshreshtha became a director of the BNA in 2006-2009 after working in the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India (1972-2006).
Shri Kulshreshtha started pursuing theatre seriously in 1974 and began working as an actor under the direction of Ranjeet Kapoor in Lucknow. In 1976 he joined BNA with specialization in direction. His name as a director was established on the national stage after his performance of Rakesh’s Ramlila, which was featured in the National Festival of the Sangeet Natak Akademi organized in Delhi in 1985. Another major production directed by him that shot to fame is Bodhayan’s Bhagwadjjukeeyam. The play was honoured as the best production during the World Theatre Festival in Norway in 1991. Later, the play has travelled to many national and international theatre festivals. So far he has directed approximately 100 plays with many theatre groups and drama institutes in India as well as abroad in various styles and languages. Some of the other plays directed by him include Sophocles’ King Oedipus, Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq, Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, Mohan Rakesh’s Aadhe Adhure, Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Vasansi Jirnani, Sarte’s Men Without Shadows, and Kalidasa’s Malavikagnimitram. With his minimalist approach towards theatre, he has also designed most of the plays he directed, with main focus on the actor. A well-known actor himself, Shri Kulshreshtha has received critical acclaim through his performance of the role of Socrates in Barefoot in Athens directed by Raj Bisaria recently. Shri Kulshreshtha represented India in the World Theatre Project in Germany in 1993.
Shri Kulshreshtha has received many awards and honours for his work in the field of theatre. He has been a recipient of the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1995, and the Best Costume Design Award for the play Love Forever in the International Theatre Festival in 1998 held in U.S.A. He has been awarded an Honorary Diploma by the International Amateur Theatre Association in Norway, among others.
Shri Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2014 for his contribution to Indian theatre as a director.