The man who revolutionised Indian drama

Neelam Mansingh

With his single-minded dedication, Ebrahim Alkazi customary the contours of contemporary Indian drama by shaping its lexicon by way of an inimitable coaching routine that spelt out modernism, however with out altering the material of society or ideology, however merely by creating new and self-sustaining perceptions.

As head of National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi, Alkazi taught us college students that “bringing alive” was theatre’s main goal, requiring intuition, persistence, creativity, data and energy.

He mixed the roles of instructor, director and NSD head for 15 years until 1977. He single-handedly customary fashionable theatrical sensibility, an innovation not even his most trenchant critics can erase or devalue. As NSD head from 1962, he embodied the unconventional spirit of the instances, and moulded fashionable Indian theatre by questioning coaching, storytelling, house, language and delusion.

Alkazi was my instructor on the NSD and I carefully noticed his artistic processes, driving ardour and voracious urge for food for work. One resolute lesson I learnt within the years he was my mentor, was that theatre work was by no means like becoming a member of a pastime class. Before Alkazi joined the NSD, its college students have been uncovered to one-act performs that have been extra akin to amateurish and elementary classroom productions. Alkazi, nevertheless, linked manufacturing work to skilled actor coaching in all features of efficiency, from analysing advanced characters to contextualising them traditionally by units, costumes and props.

In remodeling the contours of contemporary Indian drama, nothing was an excessive amount of or too little for Alkazi. He was additionally self-effacing and barely, if in any respect sought the limelight.

During my days as an NSD pupil within the mid-1970s, Alkazi directed three performs which might be hailed as his definitive work — Andha Yug by Dharam Vir Bharati, Tughlaq by Girish Karnad and Razia Sultan by Balwant Gargi — all of which have been staged on the grand Purana Qila in 1974.

Within a brief interval, the NSD turned synonymous with Alkazi. He uncovered his college students not solely to theatrical arts, but in addition to the world of poetry, portray, literature and cinema. Students would even be introduced books by Alkazi — I’ve been a recipient of this largess — after which he would verify if that they had been learn, or not.

Endearingly referred to as chacha, or uncle by his college students, he was at all times a subject of dialog amongst his college students, who mentioned him threadbare with the identical ardour as they dissected a Chekhov or Ibsen play. He fully fascinated us all.

The final time I met him was at his daughter Amal Allana’s house for lunch in 2018. His loss is irreparable as he was an enormous on this planet of theatre.

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