About Nutkhut

Core Team

Simmy Gupta

Hi, I’m Simmy Gupta and I’m co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Nutkhut.

I was born in England of Indian origin and have trained in the 500-year-old tradition of Kathak (North Indian Classical dance). My training began with the renowned Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer, Nahid Siddiqui, joining her company in 1993, to tour nationally and internationally.

As a dancer and choreographer, my work has spanned theatre, film, television and fashion – including Birmingham Royal Ballet’s production of ‘Krishna’ (assistant choreographer), guest choreographer for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie and choreographer for spring/summer collection for Diesel Clothing Company.

I was commissioned by Greenwich and Docklands Festivals to choreograph a South Asian Dance piece at Trafalgar Square, London, as well as choreographing the televised opening of the Square with the Mayor of London, in 2003.

I started Nutkhut in 2004 with Ajay. We have gone from a small-scale stilts walkabout show to a large-scale Bollywood Dance show to a small scale Bollywood Bites performance, to a one man time travelling Swyron to a mid-scale interactive children’s promenade show in a big top tent!

Ajay Chhabra

Hello, I’m Ajay Chhabra and I’m a co-founder and co-Artistic Director of Nutkhut.

I am a British actor, director and producer of Indo-Fijian heritage, born and raised in London and Kent. I’ve conceived and directed numerous productions for the company including Movieplex, The 7 Statues of City Hall (Oslo) and more recently Swyron, all working within the realm of identity, history and memory.

Before turning professional I worked in the Hotel and Events sector. I studied Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London and Hospitality Management at Westminster Hotel School and the University of North London. I trained at Grosvenor House Hotel and Beck Hotels in Austria, before completing my training at the University of Innsbruck.

I directed and performed for Diesel Clothing Company in Italy, Greece, Holland, Germany and Denmark, bringing together fashion and theatre in creating a theatrical presentation of Spring/Summer collections with catwalk models, classical dancers and actors.

Emma Dyos

Hello, I’m Emma Dyos and Nutkhut's General Manager.

I am an office manager and production manager within the arts sector and have returned to the Nutkhut team after a couple of years away

I have a performance background, having started my career in the industry as a Bluecoat Entertainer for Pontins before developing a management and production role for a variety of theatre production companies locally and nationwide.

Whilst previously with Nutkhut I was part of their 10th Anniversary celebrations at the Houses of Parliament as well as the Navrattan production team touring the show to several Melas around the UK.

Uzair Sayed

Hi, I’m Uzair Sayed and Nutkhut's Social Media coordinator.

Having graduated from the University of Bedfordshire in 2015 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism I have been able to harness my enthusiasm for social media marketing providing support for various events and festivals including the London Mela.

I've also been a newsreader for Lyca Radio since 2016.

Ellie Newland

Hello, I’m Ellie Newland and I’m Nutkhut’s Learning and Education Manager.

I graduated from the University of Wales and have a PGCE from Brighton University. I play a central role in developing the companies learning and engagement activity. Most recently with Never Set Eyes and earlier with Dr. Blighty.

My highlights have included Exec Producer of Brighton Fashion Week, Workshop lead at the Victoria and Albert Museum and 3d Talisman Project with Our Future City.

Associate Artists

Bhagya Lakshmi

Hello, I’m Bhagya Lakshmi –

I'm a Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer.

I started learning bharatanatyam with my father Guru Shri R V Thyagarajan. I also trained in carnatic music.

I have performed in Singapore, France, Spain, India and the UK.

Since 2010 I have been teaching and perfroming for beginners, intermediate and advance level students. I have also been training students for arangetrams and have mentored advance level students for CAT( centre for advance training)

I have worked creatively for Nutkhut in the outdoors over the past two summers and we are researching a new opportunity with video projection and classical Indian dance.

Swifty Beats

Hello, I’m Swifty Beats –

I'm an East London based DJ and music producer and worked on an international collaboration, with Nutkhut and Trans Expresse in 2015 as part of a core team of UK and French artists.

I incorporate musical aspects of my family heritage into my collabortions work. I have a background in Maths and often use music as a motivator to explain complex mathematical theories, music has its’ formulas and numbers.

I'm connected to East Africa, namely Kenya via my paternal parents and grandparents and to North India and Punjab via my maternal family. I've since undertaken Dhol workshops for the company and have provided music for the company’s digital output.

In 2018 I hope to record and document Punjabi and Urdu folk songs and poetry, sung and recited during key life moments in the life of a family and a community. To ensure authenticity is at the heart of this process, these recording will take place with established partners, via the Mela Partnership, in established areas of high South Asian migration and communities, namely London, Birmingham and Manchester. These recordings will then feature as part of a multi-platform arts experience for diverse artists at key Melas during the season

Neran Persaud

I’ve worked extensively as an artist, producer, director and collaborator - from community arts to stand-up comedy, sketch shows and professional main-stage productions. My family background is Indian Guyanese and South African and I draw on this rich hetiage in my work.

The majority of my work has been based in theatre, enabling me to make contact with different communities to share and exchange thoughts and ideas on a number of diverse issues. Nutkhut has taken my indoor experience outdoors – as a performer in ‘Over The Garden Fence’ and project manager for ‘Bollywood Bites’ and Nutkhut’s newest addition, the steampunk superhero ‘Swyron’.

Hayley Madden

Hello, I’m Hayley Madden, one of Nutkhut’s associate photographers

Photographic life started for me working for NME during the notorious Britpop era and I have worked in the music industry for over 20 years shooting everyone from Oasis to Beyonce. In 2001 I was taken on by the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to cover events such as the Royal Opening of City Hall, The Olympic Bid and countless cultural events putting me in contact with many interesting organisations including The Royal Collection, The Poetry Society, Bishopsgate Arts and, of course, Nutkhut.

Nutkhut events are a photographer’s dream full of interesting characters, colourful visual scenarios and surreal experiences.

Rich Peppiatt

Hi there! My name is Rich Peppiatt. I'm a storyteller (aren’t we all?).

My first love is comedy; writing, performing, filmmaking. In fact, I’m drawn to any medium where I believe I can make people laugh. This, I’m told, is likely the result of some deep-lying psychological issue. My involvement with Nutkhut began when I was commissioned to write the anniversary book. I submersed myself in their weird and wonderful world, and am yet to come up for air.

Tarik Ahmet

Hi, I’m Tarik Ahmet, one of Nutkhut’s associate photographers.

I’ve indulged myself in photography for nearly ten years now and my fascination grows everyday. My first interaction with a “big camera” was when I offered to take some pictures for a friends band and I found myself instinctively able to handle an SLR; photographing with a sense of composition and creativity. It was an exciting feeling. Working with the team at Nutkhut gives me a chance to capture new and exciting events performed by enthusiastic, creative people, which always proves to be such a pleasure.

Ben Raine

Hello, I’m Ben Raine and I’m an associate Production Manager with Nutkhut.

I'm a Production Manager, Lighting Designer and Music Composer!


  • Patron - The Rt Hon. the Lord Dholakia OBE DL
  • Ho-Yee Li
  • Tracy Stringfellow
  • Shivani Satya
  • Tutvinder Singh Mann


Nutkhut’s mission is to bring to life awe-inspiring stories of the British South-Asian experience, through joyous and playful world-class performances and installations.

A London-based performing arts company led by co-Artistic Directors Ajay Chhabra and Simmy Gupta, Nutkhut has been working extensively around the UK and abroad since 2003. Nutkhut produces high quality cross-disciplinary work for site-specific contexts, with a particular focus on creating commissioned work for the outdoor sector and tours regularly to festivals, melas and special events.

Nutkhut productions encompass live performance, dance, installation, music, circus, film and digital design.

Nutkhut productions encompass live performance, dance, installation, music, circus, film and digital design.

Often inspired by historical people and places, Nutkhut’s productions are designed to encourage public participation and interaction. Nutkhut tells universal stories that lift the spirit, bringing people together to celebrate a shared experience with a truly mischievous and distinctly British eccentricity.

Supported by a dynamic and diverse team of associate artists, producers and managers, Nutkhut is dedicated to life-long learning and talent development, designing and delivering opportunities for young people in formal and non-formal settings, with educational bodies as strategic partners and by supporting emerging artists and producers to grow. Nutkhut also deliver public talks and presentations across the creative and cultural industries as a way of sharing best practice in interdisciplinary and intercultural work.

Nutkhut is unique in its accessibility, its humour and joyfulness, delighting audiences across the UK and contributing to the development of the outdoor sector in modern Britain since 2003.