Ebrahim Alkazi, the grand old man of Indian theatre has been conferred France’s highest cultural award for his contribution in nurturing and presenting modern theatre in India and preserving the treasures of photography and other art forms for posterity.
Alkazi, was awarded Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) late Friday evening in New Delhi by the French government who hailed him as “the universal man” for his patronage of fine arts and culture.
The event coincided with the ongoing Indo-French collaborative photography exhibition on Pondicherry at the Alliance Francaise art gallery premises. Photographs at the core of exhibition, “Mastering the Lens before and after Carier-Besson in Pondicherry” were drawn from Alkazi photography collection.
French Ambassador to India Francois Richier recalled Alkazi’s association with France and his contribution in preserving and enduring the bonds between the two countries through his works and through the Alkazi Foundation of the Arts.
“Here is a man whose ancestors came from Arab and who was born in Bombay and has so far been working tirelessly present the Indian culture to the world and vice verse and has build a foundation to preserve its treasures. His identity is beyond communal or regional, he indeed is the universal man. And, we feel delighted to recognise a towering figure like him,” said Richier.
“His nomination was sent last year by my predecessor and now I think this is the right occasion to confer it as all these photographs here in the exhibition have come from the collections of the Alkazi Foundation and we look forward to a greater association with them ahead,” said the Ambassador.
The award is given to writers, filmmakers, musicians and other artists and persons who have distinguished themselves in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of arts in France and throughout the world.