Indian theatre director and drama teacher Ebrahim Alkazi passed away yesterday at the age of 94. He was one of the greatest legends, who became famous for his ground-breaking work in revolutionising the art form in India. The world was a stage for him and there were no two ways about it. Rigid and principled in his ways, Alkazi belted out several productions in his long and fulfilling career. He served as a mentor and role model to many around the world including his children and students who will fondly remember his legacy. As the Bollywood industry mourns his loss, here is what some of the celebrities – who were near and dear to him – had to say about the grand old man of Indian theatre.
- Anupam Kher “What can I say about a human being who has taught me everything worth learning in life? We’ve lost the doyen of Indian theatre. Ebrahim Alkazi Saab was not only my guru and mentor. Everything that I know about acting I learnt from him. He not only gave me the raw material as an actor but also shaped the way I look at life. Alkazi Saab was much more than a theatre director,” Kher told The Brown Identity. He added, “He has trained innumerable actors to be good human beings. He elevated the status of theatre and its products like us. In fact, we his disciples think of ourselves as his miniature clones. When I opened my acting school, I modelled it on Alkazi Saab’s vision of art. He introduced me to art, culture, literature. He shaped my thoughts, my opinions on life and my acting.”
- Naseeruddin Shah “My book, And Then One Day contains many thoughts on the great man. He was too huge a personality to be described in brief clichés,” shared Shah.
- Shabana Azmi “He was the last of the giants in theatre. I have always been envious of the students who had the good fortune of being trained by Alkazi Saab. He was not just an acting coach but a teacher who taught you how to live life because an actor is her own instrument. My deepest condolences to the family,” mentioned Azmi.
- Nawazuddin Siddiqui “Ebrahim Alkazi Saab was fully knowledgeable in every aspect of life and drama, and the drama of life. To be trained by him meant you were being schooled by the best possible teacher in the school of life,” he noted.
- Neena Gupta “I joined the National School Of Drama (NSD) only so I could learn acting from him. Unfortunately, he had quit NDS before I joined. But he was, and will remain, a legend of stage direction and acting. While I was at the NSD I kept hearing so many stories about him. He was considered not only a drama coach but a life coach. His students came out as complete human beings. He not only taught acting but also took keen interest in other aspects of his students’ lives,” she said. Gupta stated, “For example, he personally checked the finger nails and other hygiene details of his students. I wish I had the privilege of being taught by Alkazi Saab.”
- Manoj Bajpayi “A teacher and a theatre legend who made teaching and acting so scientific! He made his students realise that theatre requires extreme dedication and hard work and turned NSD into a respected centre of learning and Art and culture. I never had the opportunity to learn from him but I saw and experienced the impact of his teachings at NSD and in all the students who joined or passed out from the Institute much after he retired. He will always be irreplaceable,” he said.