Saudi-origin Alkazi: Father of Indian Theater, who mentored prominent Bollywood celebs

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He also played a crucial role in shaping the careers of several Bollywood actors, including Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

Saudi-origin Ebrahim Alkazi was a prominent Indian theater director and drama teacher who made a significant contribution to Indian theatre and Bollywood. Alkazi was born in Pune, India, to a Kuwaiti mother and a Najdi father who hailed from Unaizah, Saudi Arabia, and had a prosperous business background.

Alkazi is credited with revolutionizing Indian theatre by introducing modern techniques and staging plays that dealt with contemporary issues. He was one of the first directors to use lighting, sets, and costumes to create a theatrical experience that was on par with international standards.

In addition to his work in theatre, Alkazi also made a significant contribution to Bollywood. He directed several Hindi films during the 1960s and 1970s, including “Dharmputra”, “Kalidas”, and “The Householder”. His films were known for their strong social messages and dealt with issues such as poverty, corruption, and gender inequality.

Alkazi’s contribution to Bollywood was not limited to directing. He also played a crucial role in shaping the careers of several Bollywood actors, including Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

His focus on realism and attention to detail inspired a new generation of filmmakers who sought to tell stories that were grounded in reality. This approach to filmmaking gave rise to a new wave movement in Indian cinema during the 1970s, which was characterized by socially relevant themes, realistic portrayals, and naturalistic performances.

During the ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ TV show, Shahrukh Khan remembered Alkazi.

Alkazi was the director of the National School of Drama in New Delhi, where he trained several actors who went on to become household names in Bollywood.

Alkazi received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to Indian theatre and Bollywood. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1966 and the Padma Bhushan in 1991. He was also the recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest award in Indian theatre, in 1962.

In 2016, the Saudi Ambassador to India, Saud Al-Sati, was in Mumbai to attend the inauguration of an exhibition named after Alkazi.

During the inauguration, Al-Sati said, “If we were to choose an individual, who formed the very concept of theater, it would almost certainly be Ebrahim Al-Kazi, the Indian theater legend with roots in Saudi Arabia”.

Alkazi passed away in 2020 at the age of 94, leaving behind a rich legacy in Indian theatre and Bollywood. His contribution to Indian theatre and cinema continues to inspire generations of actors and directors, and his work remains an integral part of India’s artistic heritage.

Alkazi’s impact on Indian theatre and cinema will always be remembered, and his legacy will continue to inspire generations of artists.

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