Surrounded by his family members, Ebrahim Alkazi died of cardiac failure on Tuesday, at Escorts Hospital, New Delhi at the age of 95. A theatre doyen, an art connoisseur and a collector, Ebrahim had been in hospital for the past two days, said his family. While he was quite “sturdy” for his age, he had issues with his memory, his daughter and noted Indian theatre director and costume designer, Amal Allana, with whom he lived told indianexpress.com.
His son and noted theatre director Feisal Alkazi said his father’s legacy is so vast that a “great void has been left in the space of art and theatre”.
“He was active in the pre-Independence days. He was a perfectionist in everything he did, whether theatre, painting, as an art connoisseur, or as an educator. His works continue to inspire the young and old,” said Feisal, who has also carved out a niche for himself in the Indian theatre scene, especially with Ruchika Theatre Group.
Feisal said all the family members were by his father’s side when he breathed his las. “Mr Alkazi (1925-2020) passed away peacefully this afternoon due to cardiac failure,” read the statement from the family.
Feisal recalled how the “visual grandeur of his productions” made his works incredible. “His is a legacy that remains untouched by his contemporaries. His legacy is of a huge level, something that nobody has dared to touch until now,” said Feisal, adding how he could more than hold his own alongside other artistes from that generation.
Born in Pune in October 1925, Ebrahim Alkazi directed more than 50 plays, and also groomed leading actors including Naseeruddin Shah, Nadira Babbar, and Om Puri.
The true architect of the Modern Indian Theatre. The Doyen who possessed the extreme knowledge in all the aspects of ART. The magician who nurtured many greats of theatre.
May your brightest spark from the heaven keeps us enlightening #EbrahimAlkazi
— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) August 4, 2020
NSD Family deeply mourn passing away of Theatre Legend, Padma Vibhushan Shri #EbrahimAlkazi, Ex Director of NSD from 1962-77. This is a great loss to the country and specially to the Theatre World.@nirupamakotru @MinOfCultureGoI pic.twitter.com/s5vpoSXmqe
— National School of Drama (@nsd_india) August 4, 2020
His works celebrated Indian playwrights such as Mahesh Elkunchwar and Girish Karnad, along with several adaptations of Shakespeare. Among his critically acclaimed directorial ventures are Dharamvir Bharati’s Andha yug (published 1953; The Blind Age), Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1952), Mohan Rakesh’s Ashadh ka ek din (1958; One Day in Ashadha), and Karnad’s Tughlaq (1964), the last of which is considered to be his finest.
Asked about his groundbreaking legacy, Amal, who is the former chairperson of the National School of Drama, told indianexpress.com, “(It is) so difficult to talk about his legacy. He affected the lives of so many people. He was always looking to share his knowledge and experiences with as many people as possible, and in so many fields, whether art, theatre, photography and other such creative institutions. He always talked about how source of art should be appreciated and valued. It also came down to democratic understanding of right as art is not isolated from life. Art reflects the time and he always stressed on bringing a change through his works and not just a narrow work of art.”
Ebrahim dedicated his time and resources to establishing the Art Heritage in New Delhi, along with his wife Roshan Alkazi, encouraging artists and scholars working in the plastic arts and mounting over 500 exhibitions. In an effort to enlarge the audience for contemporary art, he launched several large projects, including international exchange exhibitions, publications and scholarship awards. The most visible of these programmes was a four-part series of exhibitions and accompanying publications entitled India: Myth and Reality presented in association with David Elliott and Victor Musgrave at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1982. In collaboration with Dr. Mildred Archer, Toby Falk, and other distinguished scholars, he brought out scholarly works which contributed significantly to the art history of the sub-continent.
He was awarded the highest national awards, including the Kalidas Award, the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Life Achievement Award, for his contribution to the fields of art and culture.
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