Alkazi rev­o­lu­tionised the­atre, brought re­gional lan­guages to NSD

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - News - Vanessa Vie­gas ■ vanessa.vie­

was not merely a teacher, he was a life coach,” says Shabana Azmi, of the the­atre le­gend Ebrahim Alkazi.

Ini­tially in Bom­bay and later in Delhi, Alkazi — who died in his Delhi home on Tues­day, aged 95 — de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as a di­rec­tor who brought a new sense of re­al­ism and mod­ernism to In­dian drama.

As a teacher, he nur­tured some of the lead­ing tal­ents of the age, in­clud­ing Naseerud­din Shah, Om Puri, Ro­hini Hat­tan­gadi and Manohar Singh, all of whom were stu­dents at the Na­tional School of Drama (NSD) when Alkazi served as di­rec­tor from 1962 to ’77. He was a truly ex­cep­tional teacher, says ac­tor Neena Gupta, who joined the NSD to learn from him. “I was very un­for­tu­nate be­cause Mr Alkazi left as I en­rolled. But I re­mem­ber watch­ing Alka­zisaab di­rect­ing Satish Kaushik in a play and think­ing to my­self, I want to learn to act from this man some­day.”

Alkazi rev­o­lu­tionised the­atre, bring­ing a vis­ual ap­proach to the form when most oth­ers were con­cerned with a lit­er­ary ap­proach. He daz­zled with lav­ish pro­duc­tions and minute at­ten­tion to de­tail. He brought re­gional lan­guages to the NSD.

In Bom­bay, Alkazi did pow­er­ful ren­di­tions of Greek tragedies, Shake­spearean plays, works by Ib­sen, Chekov and Strind­berg, the global greats of the­atre. When he moved to Delhi, he re­al­ized that the lan­guage of his pre­sen­ta­tions would have to change to Hindi.

He be­gan look­ing for con­tem­po­rary In­dian plays, and these were the grand spec­ta­cles that he would come to be known for. His most renowned of these pro­duc­tions in­cluded Girish Kar­nad’s Tugh­laq, Ashadh Ka Ek Din and Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha Yug.

For his con­tri­bu­tions to

the field, he was con­ferred a Pad­mashri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vib­hushan.

Alkazi was also a painter and avid art col­lec­tor and, at 50, he set up the Art Her­itage gallery with his wife Roshan, fo­cus­ing on build­ing up his ar­chive of art, pho­tog­ra­phy and books.

“What he taught me was to think trans-na­tion­ally,” says Ra­haab Al­lana, Alkazi’s grand­son and cu­ra­tor and pub­lisher of what is now the Alkazi Foun­da­tion for the Arts.

“When it came to cu­ra­tion, he was al­ways look­ing for cross-cul­tural and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary strains. I would say he rep­re­sents that kind of trans-gen­er­a­tion that went through ana­log and ar­rived at dig­i­tal. And then also went back to ana­log af­ter the dig­i­tal.”

He was not merely a teacher, he was a life coach



■ Ebrahim Alkazi died on Tues­day af­ter a heart at­tack.

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