Ebrahim Alkazi

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Ebrahim Alkazi
Born (1925-10-18) 18 October 1925 (age 90)
Pune, Maharashtra
Occupation theatre director

Ebrahim Alkazi (born 18 October 1925[1]) is one of the most influential Indian theatre directors and drama teachers in 20th-century Indian theatre. 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.[2] He also remained the Director of National School of Drama, New Delhi (1962–1977)[3][4][5] He has also been a noted art connoisseur, collector and gallery owner, and found 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 nature and for the original spins he put on each stage production, including those he had previously directed before.[2] 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.[3] 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.[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] 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.[2]

Career[edit]

Early on in his career he got 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.[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, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Manohar Singh, Uttara Baokar, Jyoti Subhash, Suhas Joshi, 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 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 book 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.[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]

Works[edit]

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

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]