Girish Karnad, Jnanapith awardee, noted playwright and actor dies: His works will continue being popular, says PM Modi

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New Delhi | Published: June 10, 2019 12:16:45 PM

As an actor, Girish Karnad has dabbled in various languages but his key focus remained writing plays for almost four decades. His TV credits include the popular 'Malgudi Days' series in which he portrayed the role of young Swaminathan's strict father.

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Today marks an irreparable loss for Indian theatre and cinema! Veteran actor and playwright Girish Karnad passed away at the age of 81 years. A three day state mourning has been declared in Karnataka by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy to honour the veteran actor. Also, one day public holiday has been declared in the state.

Girish Karnad breathed his last on Monday morning at his residence in Bengaluru. In the fields of theater, art and story telling, Girish Karnad had made a distinct mark as a titan of contemporary Indian theatre, whose storytelling was a craft unto itself that advocated progressive values and not hesitating to turn the spotlight on emerging social fault lines.

Political leaders, famous theatre personalities and artists condoled the death of the iconic playwright and actor. Tributes lauding Karnad’s immense contribution to Indian art and culture are continuing to pour in on social media.

This morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “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.”

President Kovind also tweeted, “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.”

Chandrashekhar Kambar, president, Sahitya Akademi stated that he has now lost a ‘very intimate friend’.

Girish Karnad first shot into fame when his Kannada plays became a success in his native language, which later got translated into the English language as well. Following the success of these plays, these plays got a perfect launchpad when they were later staged by several of the most renowned filmmakers.

A very emotional tweet from Prakash Raj sums up how many people feel today, as it reads thus: “Karnad ji, every moment I lived with you is ALIVE. Will miss you, but cherish you for life.”

In 1998, Girish Karnad received the Jnanpith Award for his contribution to literature and he was also honoured with Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. In addition, Girish Karnad has also received numerous National Film awards and the Sahitya Akademy Award.

As an actor, Girish Karnad has dabbled in various languages but his key focus remained writing plays for almost four decades. His TV credits include the popular ‘Malgudi Days’ series in which he portrayed the role of young Swaminathan’s strict father.

Another notable stint with TV was when Girish Karnad hosted ‘Turning Point’ on Doordarshan in the early 90s.

The craft of blending in mythology and history to share and comment on topical issues boldly has always remained his trademark style, most noted in his iconic plays such as Tughalak 1964 and Taledanda. Girish Karnad’s play ‘Nagamandala’ and ‘Hayavadana’, which was inspired by Geman writer, Thomas Mann’s novella had brought him considerable acclaim.

In the world of cinema too, Girish Karnad had his signature style of making a unique yet distinguished mark, that made him stand out as a striking and charismatic personality to bank on.

To cite an example, in a thoroughly commercial Tamil movie ‘Kathalan’ which was a huge success at the box office and later remade into Hindi, Girish Karnad portrayed a negative role as the father of the heroine and a prominent leader.

Typically, in most commercial movies, the role of a heroine’s father is not one that stands out in public memory as such.

However, Girish Karnad’s style of acting is so powerful and subtle that the portrayal of the typical patriarchal mindset triggered public debates on a certain aspect of the character’s behavior to his daughter.

In Malayalam cinema, Girish Karnad had starred in three films – Raagam Ananda Bhairavi, Neelakurinji Poothapol (director: Bharathan) and The Prince (starring Mohanlal).

With all the tributes pouring in, there is no doubt that Girish Karnad’s range of plays and films make him a colossus, stand-out figure in the field of Indian theatre and cinema.

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