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Nehru Centre director LH Kazi passes away
- Vijay Shanker

July 28, 2021

Latafat Husain Kazi, cultural director of Nehru Centre, Mumbai, left for his heavenly abode early morning on 20th July. He was 67. He had tested positive and was admitted for Covid along with his wife Rashida in the month of May. She expired in the hospital itself but Kazi recovered and was discharged but his health further deteriorated due to depression and he was bedridden too. He is survived by his three children - Dr. Asma Khan, Sumaiya Kazi (architect) and son Saad Kazi who is an automobile engineer.

LH Kazi was born on 10th February 1954. After completing his BA from Mumbai University, Kazi completed a post graduation course in astronomy from Coast Navigation School, California, USA. He completed the Rashtra Bhasha course from Hindi Prachar Sabha and held diplomas in electrical wiring, travel and tourism, and business management too. For six years Kazi served as the assistant manager of the Nehru Planetarium, which is close to the Nehru Centre in Worli. He was manager of the auditorium of Discovery of India building and subsequently joined as the joint director of the Nehru Centre and finally became the director of the Nehru Centre, succeeding Prof Kamalakar Sontakke. Kazi retired when he was 58 but received an extended invitation to continue as its director. Incidentally, the Nehru Centre is one of the premier centres of Mumbai for cultural activities, functioning around the year, pertaining to music, dance, drama, poetry recitations, seminars, conferences and an art gallery. The Nehru Centre has a beautiful auditorium with fine acoustics and a seating capacity of over 800 seats.

Kazi was a great source of encouragement for artists. Several programs were held integrating varied art forms of folk, classical music and dances. He had written the script and directed many dance dramas like 'Aradhana' (1996) based on Hindu mythology, 'Parchaiyian' (1998) portraying freedom struggle, 'Ashta Nayikas' (1999) on eight heroines as depicted in the Natya Sastra, 'Prateek' (2005) on image symbolism in dance, 'Sanskriti' (2007) on amalgamation of traditional and contemporary art movements, 'Meghdoot' (2009) based on Kalidasa's perspective, 'Vistaar' exploring dance forms since the inception of mankind. One of the most spectacular presentations was 'Discovery of India' largely based on Nehru's book of the same name. It was a testimonial epilogue of recorded civilizations from their initial days of settlement. 'Gaatha Maharashtrachi' was the story of the golden jubilee of Maharashtra. Some of the classical dancers who were associated with him as choreographers were Jhelum Paranjape, Sandhya Purecha and Guru Jayashree Nair. Veena maestro Narayana Mani also provided music for some of his productions.

Some of the most interesting books written by Kazi include 'Cosmos' on astronomy, 'Abhinaya Arpan'- a manual of dramatic arts for beginners on practical appreciation and application of arts, aesthetics, crafts and science of dramatics and performing arts. This book was sponsored by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. 'Manzarnama' was a panorama of cultural activities under his able guidance from 1991 to 2008.

Md Sarosh Tungekar, executive assistant to director Kazi, says, "I have been working with him for the last 25 years. He was an art connoisseur and worked very hard to provide platforms for various cultural events at Nehru Centre, be it plays, dance ballets, classical concerts or workshops by maestros like Pt Birju Maharaj. He has genuinely helped in the upliftment of Urdu literature by projecting the language by Mushaira, Afsana, Baiyt-Baazi, drama and quiz competitions. He was a very easy going and cooperative person, always willing to help everyone, particularly the artiste fraternity. His presence will be surely missed."

Vijay Shanker
Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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