In 1989, friends Kristine Landon-Smith and Sudha Bhuchar established Tamasha Theatre Company in London. In Hindi,’Tamasha’ means ‘spectacle’ or a ‘happening’ and can be used colloquially, as in someone creating a ‘tamasha’ out of nothing which is very apt in this context, according to the two directors. The company was formed after Kristine Landon-Smith was invited to direct at the National School of Drama in New Delhi, India, under the aegis of the British Council in 1988. Having always visited her family in India, Kristine Landon-Smith wanted to develop stronger links with the region and so began work at the school. With her second-year students, she began work on an adaptation of Mulk Raj Anand’s 1935 classic novel, ‘Untouchable’, which portrays the despair and challenges in the life of a young sweeper boy born into India’s lowest caste, the Untouchables, in the 1930s.
This was a time when the influence of Gandhi and his drive to eradicate untouchability, was gaining momentum. Upon Kristine Landon-Smith’s return to London, she teamed up with East-African Indian friend, Sudha Bhuchar, then a presenter of the BBC television programme Network East. The pair commenced work on the British production of ‘Untouchable’, whose unique selling point was the fact that a British Asian cast would perform the play in Hindi on one night and in English on the other. This unique language aspect, as well as the fact that contemporary South Asian work was not being presented enough in the UK, held Landon-Smith’s and Bhuchar’s interest. In 1989,the pair began fundraising from Asian businessmen and friends and formed a new company, Tamasha.