A Battle of Life That I Will Win| Bansi Kaul

Celebrated Theatre Director Designer Padmashree Bansi Kaul’s letter of courage and determination on Social Media, as he fights cancer and exhorts everyone to build a better world

A scene from Saudagar Directed by Bansi Kaul

My very dearest friends!
My best wishes and love to all of you… to all those performers from across the country who have the cultural events I designed the most amazing spectacles… and to every person I have met on this journey called life. I have not been able to thank all of you for good wishes on my birthday.

I have been unwell and have been detected with cancer of the brain as well as the lungs. Yet I am sure I will pull through and that we will soon meet again. Your good wishes are my strength.

There is a little folk metaphor, which I think is important for all of us. Nature has given us the choice to call it God or faith to create your own heavens for yourself. Therefore, what you do… you do all kinds of bad deeds to reach that heaven. For this you kill each other… and therefore, when we reach heaven, we realize that our rules and conditions do not work thee. We come face to face with two gates. One leads to the heaven that you have created for yourself… and the other gate is one that gives you the entry to inner peace. There is none of the worldly joys that give us only momentary joy and satisfaction.

This second gate leads to an amazingly beautiful world. So, thus, here too you must decide whether you will enter the gate for which you have fought? The world here no longer works according your whims and fancy. Your rule works so long you are a part of this transient world. In this short-lived world one wants to reach heaven at any cost, be it murder, plunder, or cheating. One is foolish enough to believe that this is best path to heaven.

Every community has its own imagination of what heaven might be. But when one is confronted with those two gates, one must decide which gate to enter… the gate that leads to the heaven that you have imagined or the gate that leads to inner peace, love, kindness and faith, where being there for each other is most important.

There will be no space for making mistakes in this final choice. The decision to enter one of the gates will only, and only, be yours! We are in times where displacements are the rule… displacements from physical spaces, nature, and natural sounds, from cultures, from one’s own family and friends. Scenes of daughters and sons carrying their aged parents across the country to a safer place during the lockdown, and children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind. All these painful experiences must be stopped.

Children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind – Bansi Kaul

This can happen only when there is a sense of general well-being. Lal Ded says,

“In the midst of the sea, with unspun thread I am towing the boat; would that God grant my prayer and, ferry me too, across…” .

(Lal Vakh. No. 23)

We all need to hold a single rope to tow the boat of goodness, peace, mental and physical well-being, gratitude, kindness, and magnanimity across the sea of life.

So, dear friends… killing, hating, plundering, and cheating… all in the name of belief and faith will bring nothing. All of us must love each other, which can happen only if you get rid of hatred. The act of throwing a stone of hatred at someone has its repercussions. It will rebound. The hurt ultimately comes to oneself.

And so, we must make more and more friends to make the world a better place to live in. We need to pave a strong, durable long-lasting path for the coming generations. Let’s give them a better world. When we say we are 60% young India, let us not forget that after twenty years or so there will be a 100% old India! We must start thinking about this… and think fast. There must be a sense of collective strength. Strength can only be in togetherness, and in togetherness there are memories.

Padmashree Bansi Kaul

I smile reliving these memories. My smile turns into laughter. Laughter celebrates the miniscule cosmic interval between birth and death. In laughter I see celebration and protest at once. It becomes force to cut through every form of negativity. Therefore, laughter must be celebrated! – Bansi Kaul

Theatre Legend Ebrahim Alkazi Passes away / Manohar Khushalani

Ebrahim Alkazi

Theatre doyen and legendary Pedagog Ebrahim Alkazi, who shaped proscenium theatre in India, died peacefully on Tuesday afternoon after suffering a heart attack, his son, Feisal Alkazi, informed us. Feisal told me the whole family was proud of his fathers humongous achievements. A career spanning 74 active years he passed away at 94.

The funeral will take place tomorrow at Jamia Milia VIP Grave Yard. But outsiders have been politely told to stay away, for their own safety, away due to the prevailing pandemic. The entire family comprising among others Feisal Alkazi, Radhika Alkazi, Amal Allana, Nissar Allana were present in Delhi.

Mr. Alkazi, has been the longest serving director of the National School of Drama, produced plays such as Girish Karnad’s “Tughlaq”, Mohan Rakesh’s “Aadhe Adhure” and Dharamvir Bharati’s “Andha Yug”. He mentored generations of actors, including Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri. M.K. Raina, Bhanu Bharti, Sonu Krishen, Manohar Singh, Surekha Sikri, Uttara Baokar, Dolly Ahluwalia, Ram Gopal Bajaj, the list is endless.

According to Wikipedia, He was born in Pune, Mahrashtra, Alkazi was the son of a wealthy Saudi Arabian business man trading in India and a  Kuwaiti mother.[8] He was one of nine siblings. In 1947, the rest of his family migrated to Pakistan while Alkazi stayed back in India.[9] Educated in Arabic, English, Marathi & Gujarati Alkazi was schooled in St. Vincent’s High School in Pune and later St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. While he was a student at St Xavier’s, he joined Sultan “Bobby” Padamsee’s English theatre company, Theatre Group. Thereafter he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London in 1947.[7] There he was offered career opportunities in London after being honored by both the English Drama League and the British Broadcasting Corporation, however, he turned the offers down in favor of returning home to rejoin the Theatre Group, which he ran from 1950 to 1954.[3]

Early on in his career he 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.[7] In addition to his directing, he founded the Theatre Unit Bulletin in 1953 which was published monthly and reported on theatre events around India. Afterwards, he established the School of Dramatic Arts and became the principal of Bombay’s Natya Academy.[3]

As the director of the Nationa School of Drama Alkazi revolutionised Hindi theatre by the magnificence of his vision, and the meticulousness of his technical discipline. Here he was associated with training many well-known film and theatre actors and directors. While there he created the Repertory Company in 1964 and directed their productions until he left.

He also founded Art Heritage Gallery in Delhi with his wife, Roshan Alkazi.

Alkazi won many of India’s most prestigious awards, creating an awareness of theater’s sensibility and successfully mixed modern expression with Indian tradition.[3]

He was the first recipient of Roopwedh Pratishtan’s the Tanvir Award (2004) for lifetime contribution to the theatre.[11] He has received awards including the Padma Shri (1966), the Padma Bhushan (1991), and India’s second highest civilian award the Padma Vibhushan in 2010.[12]

He has also been awarded twice by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction in 1962, and later the Akademi‘s highest award the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre.