Girish Karnad: Colossus of Indian theatre dies at 81
Actor-director-writer Girish Karnad, a legend in Kannada writing and theatre, died in Bengaluru today. He was 81. Mr Karnad was known for plays such asTughlaq and Hayavadana and for his work in South and Hindi cinema. "Girish Karnad died at home at around 8:30 a.m. due to age-related symptoms," an official in the Karnataka Chief Minister's office told news agency IANS. A source close to the family told IANS that Mr Karnad died of multi-organ failure. There will be no state funeral or ceremonies of any sort for Mr Karnad, as per the wishes of his family. Karnataka has declared a three-day mourning; Monday was declared a holiday for schools, colleges and government offices.
Girish Karnad was born in Matheran, Maharashtra in 1938 and grew up in Sirsi and Dharwad in Karnataka. This was where he developed his love of theatre, after watching village plays and 'natak mandalis' or travelling theatre groups. Mr Karnad graduated from Karnatak Arts College in Dharwad and then studied philosophy, political science and economics at Magdalen College in Oxford as a Rhodes scholar.
After a few years working with Oxford University press, Girish Karnad turned to writing full time. His first play, Yayati, was published in 1961; Tughlaq was written in 1964 and Hayavadana in 1971. Mr Karnad wrote in Kannada and his plays were translated into English and other languages. They were directed by theatre legends such as Ebrahim Alkazi, Alyque Padamsee and Satyadev Dubey. Modern Kannada theatre evolved under Girish Karnad's stewardship.
Girish Karnad also had a long and prolific career as an actor, beginning with critically acclaimed Kannada film Samskara in 1970. Though his preferred language was Kannada, Mr Karnad appeared in several well-received Hindi films such as Nishaant, Manthan, Dor and Swami. Girish Karnad also directed films, including Vamsha Vriksha in 1971 and Utsav in 1984.
TV audiences remember Girish Karnad from Malgudi Days and Indradhanush. One of Girish Karnad's last few film appearances was in Salman Khan's 2017 blockbuster Tiger Zinda Hai, the sequel to 2012's Ek Tha Tiger in which Mr Karnad also starred.
Girish Karnad was a political activist and an outspoken critic of religious fundamentalism. He also served as director of the Film and Television Institute of India or FTII from 1974 to 1975, chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi from 1988 to 1993, and director of the Nehru Centre in London from 2000 to 2003.
Girish Karnad received the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Jnanpith Award. He also won National Film Awards for several films, including Best Director for Vamsha Vriksha and Best Screenplay for Bhumika. -NDTV