Remembering Ebrahim Alkazi: Father of Indian Theatre | India News

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Remembering Ebrahim Alkazi, The Father of Indian Theatre

Nehal Jain | August 07, 2020 19:16 hrs

Theatre doyen, legendary drama teacher, and connoisseur of the arts, Ebrahim Alkazi, breathed his last on Tuesday, August 4. Alkazi, 94, had suffered a massive heart attack. 

He is survived by his son Feisal Alkazi and his daughter Amal Allana, both well-known theatre directors. He has also left behind a rich legacy of artistic achievements.

The legendary Alkazi was credited for revolutionizing theatre in India and became one of the most prominent theatre artistes in Mumbai during the 1940s and 1950s.



Alkazi was born in 1925 to a Kuwaiti mother and was one of nine siblings who had a comfortable childhood and grew up in the small Indian town of Pune. 

As a renowned director and drama teacher, he was the longest-serving director of the National School of Drama (NSD) i.e., from 1962 to 1977. In his tenure as director of NSD, he mentored students who became great actors, including Naseeruddin Shah, Nadira Babbar, and Om Puri.

Ebrahim Alkazi’s contribution towards modern Indian theatre includes, among others, bringing in technical aspects of the craft and making the NSD the premier training institute for theatre.

He is credited with directing over 50 plays including Girish Karnad's "Tughlaq", Dharamvir Bharati's "Andha Yug" and Mohan Rakesh’s “Ashadh Ka Ek Din.” 

He was also a noted art connoisseur, collector and gallery owner. He founded the Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.

Numerous honours have been bestowed on him from countries such as India, Britain, France, and Norway, and in 2010, he received the prestigious medal, Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award bestowed by the Indian government.

Ebrahim Alkazi was also the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratisthan's The Tanvir Award (2004) for lifetime contribution to the theatre, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction (1962) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre among others.

In a tweet, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Shri Ebrahim Al-Kazi will be remembered for his efforts to make theater more popular and accessible across India. His contributions to the world of art and culture are noteworthy too. Saddened by his demise. My thoughts are with his family and friends. May his soul rest in peace.”

Similarly, President Ram Nath Kovind said his death leaves a void in the world of performing arts.

The film and theatre industry also mourned the death of the man who strode like the proverbial colossus across the stage. 

"Many like me owe our passion for theatre to this formidably knowledgeable man. His contribution to sophistication and polish in staging and imparting a sense of discipline to every aspect of theatre work is unequalled," Naseeruddin Shah told PTI.

Indian movie star Manoj Bajpayee (@BajpayeeManoj), said: “Rest in peace Al-Kazi sahib. We need more teachers like you.”

Actor Kabir Bedi also honoured Alkazi by tweeting: "Mourning the passing of Ebrahim Alkazi, iconic giant of modern Indian theatre. I knew him from when he was Director of the National School of Drama in Delhi in the1960s. He gave India great theatre and created a new generation of actors and directors."

Paying condolences to Ebrahim Alkazi, Actor Anupam Kher hailed him as his "acting guru", Randeep Hooda termed him the "Guru of Gurus", and Kamal Hassan called him the "Beacon of Indian theatre art.”
 

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