Ibrahim Al-Qadi – A man with Saudi roots who changed the Indian Theater

Ibrahim Al-Qadi was the son of Hamad bin Ali Al-Qadi, a merchant who came to India from Saudi Arabia for the purpose of trading. During his life, Hammad traveled between India, Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Lebanon for trading. He had 9 children, one of them was Ibrahim Al-Qadi born in 1925.

Ibrahim was fond of dance and music. He learned Charleston and Chaturthi dances in a house where his father used to teach the English language. He loved Indian songs and also learned to play the piano from a Hindu Priest. Apart from this he also received a religious Islamic education.[irp]

Ibrahim received his secondary education in Mumbai and went to London for higher education. He joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts at the age of 21 and later on joined the British Drama Forum. While in London, Ibrahim learned about the lives of the prominent personalities of the theater and studied Greek, Egyptian, Assyrian, Sumerian and fine arts.

He met with the Indian Prime minister, Nehru in Britain who praised his abilities and invited him to India to establish a theater group in India. The prime minister also promised Ibrahim that he would be exempted from all fees and taxes and would him establish a theater that would have the most advanced technology and equipment.

Although Ibrahim was offered a Job from the London Theater company. He decided to come back to India where the prime minister kept his promise and the theater was established. The National Drama College offered 3-year training in different types of theatrical arts, this brought about a revolution in Delhi (where the college was situated) as many people from around the world came to train in this college.

Ibrahim Al Qadi’s reputation was built mainly from the fact that many prominent personalities and celebrities were invited by Nehru to attend his plays. Ibrahim Al-Qadi was invited to manage the National Theater School founded in 1959.

Indian President Pratibha Patil, left, presents the Padma Vibhushan, one of India's highest civilian awards to theater director Ebrahim Hamed Alkazi at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, March 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Mustafa Quraishi)

He did not have any managing experience and he refused the offer but after two years he accepted this offer and served as the director of the institution for 15-years. He also served as the director of National Academy of Dramatic Theater and is known for training well-known artists like Om Shivpuri, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah and Manohar Singh.

Ibrahim Al-Qadi won many awards in India for his services. He won the distinguished Indian government awards which include the Padam Shri award (second highest civilian award), Padma Bhushan and the Academy Award by the Dance and Music Academy.

In an interview, Ibrahim said that his roots extend to Saudi Arabia and that he grew up wishing to visit his homeland. His works are characterized by a mixture of Indian Arab and Islamic cultures. He also said that his best time was spent in Pune where he was born and raised.

Ibrahim Al-Qadi achieved a lot throughout his life and of his greatest achievements is the establishment of the Al-Qadi Foundation for the Arts which preserves more than 90,000 items of India’s heritage.

Source: Al Arabiya