Ebrahim Alkazi

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Ebrahim Alkazi
Ebrahim Alkaazi.jpg
Born(1925-10-18)18 October 1925
Died4 August 2020(2020-08-04) (aged 94)
Alma materSt. Vincent's High School, Pune
St. Xavier's College, Mumbai
OccupationTheatre director
Known forAshadh Ka Ek Din
AwardsPadma Shri (1966)
Padma Bhushan (1991)

Ebrahim Alkazi (18 October 1925 – 4 August 2020[1][2]) was an Indian theatre director and drama teacher. Alkazi was a strict disciplinarian who did rigorous research before producing a play, leading to important advances in scenographic design. His standards later became very influential.[3] He also remained the Director of National School of Drama, New Delhi (1962–1977)[4][5][6] He was also a noted art connoisseur, collector and gallery owner, and founded the Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.[7]

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 nature and for the original spins he put on each stage production, including those he had previously directed before.[3] Trained at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), he won the BBC Broadcasting Award in 1950. He has directed over 50 plays, including 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.[4] Many of his early plays were from the West and were performed in English, however, Alkazi changed them to have Indian viewpoints to be more relatable towards his audience.[3]

Early life education[edit]

Born in Pune, Maharashtra, Alkazi was the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian businessman trading in India and a Kuwaiti mother.[8] He was one of nine siblings. In 1947, the rest of his family migrated to Pakistan while Alkazi stayed back in India.[9] 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.[7] There he was offered career opportunities in London after being honored by both the English Drama League and the British Broadcasting Corporation, however, he turned the offers down in favor of returning home to rejoin the Theatre Group, which he ran from 1950 to 1954.[3]


Early on in his career he became associated with the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group, which included M.F.Husain, F.N.Souza, S.H.Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta, artists who were later to paint from his plays and design his sets.[7] 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.[3]

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, Harpal Tiwana and Neena Tiwana, Om Puri, and (Balraj pandit) Naseeruddin Shah, Manohar Singh, Uttara Baokar, Jyoti Subhash, Suhas Joshi, B. Jayashree, Jayadev and Rohini Hattangadi .[10] 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.[3]

He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishtan's the Tanvir Award (2004) for lifetime contribution to the theatre.[11] 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.[12]

He has also been awarded twice by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 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 costumes for all his plays, and wrote two books on 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.[13][14] 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.


  1. ^ Rashtriya Sahara – Band 2, Ausgabe 2, 1991, p. 154
  2. ^ Indian Express
  3. ^ a b c d e f Leiter, p.32 - 33
  4. ^ a b Meyer, p. 9
  5. ^ Banham, p. 18
  6. ^ Rubin, p. 158
  7. ^ a b c "Theatre is revelation (Interview)". The Hindu. 24 February 2008.
  8. ^ Karnad, Girish (26 December 2005). "Ebrahim Alkazi: The man who formed the concept of Indian theatre". India Today. Retrieved 11 May 2020. If we were to choose an individual who formed the concept of Indian theatre, it would almost certainly be Ebrahim Alkazi. But the fact that he is the offspring of a Saudi Arabian father and a Kuwaiti mother is one of those ironies with which theatre history bristles.
  9. ^ Kalra, Vandana (15 October 2019). "Theatre doyen Ebrahim Alkazi remembered through an exhibition". Indian Express. Retrieved 11 May 2020. After the Partition, while the rest of his family moved to Pakistan, Alkazi decided to stay back in India.
  10. ^ "Profile: "I Was Recognised For My Genius"". The Outlook. 18 December 1996.
  11. ^ The Hindu, Sunday, 12 December 2004[permanent dead link].
  12. ^ "This Year's Padma Awards announced" (Press release). Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 25 January 2010.
  13. ^ "Art Galleries in Delhi". Delhi Tourism website.
  14. ^ "Stage presence : Ebrahim Alkazi". harmony India. Archived from the original on 21 November 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2012.


External links[edit]