Ebrahim Alkazi

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Ebrahim Alkazi
Born (1925-10-18) 18 October 1925 (age 93)
OccupationTheatre Director
Known forAshadh Ka Ek Din

Ebrahim Alkazi (born 18 October 1925[1]) is an Indian theatre director and drama teacher. Alkazi was a strict disciplinarian who did rigorous research before producing a play, and which resulted in important advances in scenographic design. His standards later became very influential.[2] He was also appointed and remained the Director of National School of Drama, New Delhi (1962–1977)[3][4][5] He is also known as distinguished art connoisseur, art collector and gallery owner. He founded the Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.[6]

Staging more than fifty plays in his lifetime, Alkazi used both proscenium stages and the open-air venues. His designs for the open-air venues were acclaimed for their visual flair and for the original interpretations he gave to each stage production, including those he had previously directed .[2] Trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), he won the BBC Broadcasting Award in 1950. Among the 50 or more plays that he has directed are included famous productions of: Girish Karnad's Tughlaq, Mohan Rakesh's Ashadh Ka Ek Din, Dharamvir Bharati's Andha Yug and numerous Shakespeare and Greek plays.[3] Many of his early productions were plays from the West and were performed in English. However, Alkazi interpreted them from an Indian viewpoint to be more understandable to his local audience.[2]

Early life education[edit]

Born in Pune, Mahrashtra, Alkazi was the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian business man trading in India and a Kuwaiti mother. Educated in Arabic, English, Marathi, and Gujurati, Alkazi was schooled in St. Vincent's High School in Pune and later St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. While he was a student at St Xavier's, he joined Sultan "Bobby" Padamsee's English theatre company, Theatre Group. Thereafter he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London in 1947.[6] In London he was offered career opportunities and was honored by both the English Drama League and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Ultimately , he opted to return home to rejoin the Theatre Group, of which he became director from 1950 to 1954.[2]


Early on in his career he became involved with the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group, which included M.F.Husain, F.N.Souza, S.H.Raza, Akbar Padamsee, and Tyeb Mehta, artists who were later to paint and design the sets of his productions.[6] In addition to his directing, he founded the Theatre Unit Bulletin in 1953 which was published monthly and reported on theatre events around India. Afterwards, he established the School of Dramatic Arts and became the principal of Bombay's Natya Academy.[2]

As the director of the National School of Drama (NSD), Alkazi revolutionised Hindi theatre by the magnificence of his vision, and the meticulousness of his technical discipline. Here he was associated with training many well-known film and theatre actors and directors including Vijaya Mehta, Om Shivpuri, Balraj Pandit, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Manohar Singh, Uttara Baokar, Jyoti Subhash, Suhas Joshi, Raghubir Yadav, B. Jayashree, Jayadev and Rohini Hattangadi .[7] While there he created the Repertory Company in 1964 and directed their productions until he left.

He also founded Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Alkazi won many of India's most prestigious awards, creating an awareness of theater's sensibility and successfully mixed modern expression with Indian tradition.[2]

He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishtan's the Tanvir Award (2004) for lifetime contribution to the theatre.[8] He has received awards including the Padma Shri (1966), the Padma Bhushan (1991), and India's second highest civilian award the Padma Vibhushan in 2010.[9]

He has been awarded twice by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction in 1962, and later the Akademi's highest award the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre.

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Roshan Alkazi (d. 2007) who designed the costumes for all his plays, and wrote two books on the history of Indian garments. She also established the Art Heritage Gallery at Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi in 1977, which she ran for over 40 years.[10][11] The couple had two children, Amal Allana, a theatre director and ex – chairman of National School of Drama, and Feisal Alkazi a Delhi-based theatre director.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ananda Lal, The Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre, Oxford University Press (2004), ISBN 0-19-564446-8
  • The Alcazar Of Visual Memory
  • "Theatre is revelation (Interview)". The Hindu. 24 February 2008.


  • Alkazi collection of photography, with Rahaab Allana, Pramod Kumar, Brunei Gallery. Grantha Corporation, 2008. ISBN 81-89995-18-9.



External links[edit]