Playwright, actor and filmmaker Girish Karnad died at 81 after a long illness. He died at a hospital in Bengaluru at 6.30 am on Monday, according to his family. He was born on May 19, 1938, in Bombay (now Mumbai).
His critically-acclaimed body of work includes plays like “Yayati”, “Hayavadana” and “Tughlaq”, all of which he wrote in Kannada and then translated to English, losing none of the beauty and poignancy of the original texts.
He is seen as a prominent figure in the Kannada literary scene, many of his plays drew from mythology and traditional stories to create wonderful insights into modern life from mythology and he helped transform the Kannada theatre scene.
He worked in both Kannada and Hindi films, was a filmmaker and wrote screenplays, winning multiple awards for his work at the state and central level. A legendary figure, he was also briefly director of the Film and Television Institute in Pune and director of the Nehru Centre in London.
One of his most memorable role is of Swami’s father in “Malgudi Days”, a television adaptation of RK Narayan’s timeless and enchanting collection of short stories about the sleepy fictional) town of Malgudi in South India.
Girish Karnad was a fearless social and political activist, he used his the platform to fight religious fundamentalism and defend freedom of expression.
He has been a vocal critic of the Narendra Modi government. In April he was among some 200 writers from across the country who put out an open letter against the “politics of hate”.
In September last year he was charged for holding a placard that read “Me Too Urban Naxal” at an event to mark one year of journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
In 2015 he joined a group of activists protesting the beef ban in Maharashtra. In the same year he received death threats for his comment that the Bengaluru airport should be named after 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1974 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. Considered a gifted litterateur, he was also awarded the Jnanpith award in 1998.
His son has conveyed that there should no flowers, wreaths and VIP visitors to his father’s funeral. He has also ruled out a procession.
A sea of people including the President and Prime Minister paid tributes to the actor on the microblogging platform, Twitter.
Sad to hear of the passing of Girish Karnad, writer, actor and doyen of Indian theatre. Our cultural world is poorer today. My condolences to his family and to the many who followed his work #PresidentKovind
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) June 10, 2019
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
Source : Various