Alkazi: Saudi-Indian theater icon star attraction at Dammam fest

Alkazi: Saudi-Indian theater icon star attraction at Dammam fest
Updated 18 February 2015

Alkazi: Saudi-Indian theater icon star attraction at Dammam fest

Alkazi: Saudi-Indian theater icon star attraction at Dammam fest

It is a classic case of believe it or not. Ebrahim Alkazi, the celebrated Indian theater director, has his roots in Unaiza in Qassim.
Alkazi’s businessman father, Hamad, came from Saudi Arabia and did business in India in the 1960s and 1970s. That was before the oil boom changed the face of Saudi Arabia.
Alkazi, now 90, went to St. Vincent’s High School in Pune and St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. He went to London for training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
On Feb. 20, when Alkazi will be honored at the 2nd Saudi Film Festival in Dammam, it will be like a homecoming for the prodigal son.
“We want to honor pioneers in the field of theater,” said Ahmed Al-Mulla, director general of the festival. “And Alkazi is top on that list.”
Alkazi has played the role of a bridge between Indian and Arab cultures. “We consider him as a treasure and a maker of history. We want to present him as a role model to our Saudi youth,” said Al-Mulla.
He said a documentary on Alkazi will be screened during the opening ceremony, and a book is also being published illustrating his remarkable life and achievements.
Early on in his career, Alkazi 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.
As the director of the prestigious National School of Drama, Alkazi revolutionized Indian theater by the magnificence of his vision, and the meticulousness of his technical discipline. He trained many well-known film and theater actors and directors, including Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Rohini Hattangadi. He also founded Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi.
Alkazi’s father spent his life trading between Pakistan, India, Turkey, Kuwait and Lebanon. He settled for some time in India, when his son Ebrahim was born in 1925 in Pune.
His daughter Amaal and son Faisal are also associated with theater.
Alkazi speaks highly about his father and takes immense pride in his Saudi roots and considers his early days in Pune as “the richest moments in my life.”