Girish Karnad, eminent actor, filmmaker and playwright, breathed his last on June 10 in Bengaluru. With his passing away, an illustrious chapter in Indian theatre ends.
His acumen does not end just with cinema and theatre but extends far beyond it. Even with deteriorating health, he fought against forces who he believed were hell-bent on dividing the country. This earned him a place in the ‘hit-list’ of a Hindutva group, found out by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Actor, Filmmaker & Playwright
Karnad was born on May 19, 1938. He went on to dedicate over six decades to art, theatre and cinema. He earned his bachelors degree from Karnataka Arts College, Dharwad in mathematics and statistics in 1958. As a prestigious Rhodes scholar, he went on to earn an M.A. in philosophy, political science and economics in 1960-63 from Oxford University.
He was among the most prominent theatre personalities of the 60s and 70s, a period considered to be the Renaissance of Indian theatre. He used mythology and history to convey and tackle contemporary issues. He wrote his first play ‘Yayati’ in 1961. ‘Tughlaq’(1964) and ‘Hayavadana’ (1972) are two of his other well-known and loved plays. His latest play was ‘Rakshasa Tangadi’ which was published last year.
He was also a filmmaker and an actor, known for having worked in multiple languages. He made his debut in cinema with Kannada film ‘Samskara’ for which he acted and did screenwriting in 1970. The film, based on a novel by UR Ananthamurthy. A few other popular and acclaimed films of Karnad in Kannada include Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane and Ondanondu Kaaladalli.
His contribution to Hindi has also been immense. He directed Utsav in which the protagonist was actress Rekha. He acted in movies like Nishant, Manthan, Swami, Pukar, Iqbal, Ek Tha Tiger and Tiger Zinda Hai. His role as Swami’s strict father in Malgudi Days is also remembered fondly.
Given his great lineage of work, he was conferred with awards like Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Jnanapith.
Social and Political Activism
Apart from being a prolific writer-actor-filmmaker, Karnad was a staunch social and political activist. His strong stance against forces which he believed were trying to divide the country was admirable.
One of the most iconic pictures of Karnad remains the one where he can be seen with oxygen tubes and participating in protests against the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Kovind and many paid tribute to him.
Girish Karnad will be remembered for his versatile acting across all mediums. He also spoke passionately on causes dear to him. His works will continue being popular in the years to come. Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 10, 2019
Deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Jnanpith laureate writer and iconic actor/film maker, Sri #GirishKarnad .
His outstanding contribution to literature, theatre and films will always be remembered.
In his death, we lost a cultural ambassador. May his soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/s5bfbh0VgE
— H D Kumaraswamy (@hd_kumaraswamy) June 10, 2019
Karnad is survived by wife Saraswathi, writer-journalist son Raghu Karnad and daughter Radha, a doctor based out of Kenya.
While he might have passed, but what remains his legacy. The Logical Indian extends a heartfelt tribute to Girish Karnad.