Girish Karnad (May 19, 1938 – June 10, 2019)
One of the best-known faces of Kannada theatre and cinema and a widely acclaimed author and activist, Girish Raghunath Karnad succumbed to a prolonged illness on Monday, June 10. Karnad had composed plays for almost four decades using history and mythology to tackle contemporary issues. He has predominantly worked in the Southern film industry as well as in Bollywood in many successful films. Born in Maharashtra on May 19, 1938, he was 81 years old when he breathed his last. The late Karnad is a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour that is conferred in our country. Karnad is recognised as a playwright who contributed to modern Indian playwriting in Kannada. He is survived by his wife Saraswathi, son Raghu Karnad, and daughter Radha.
Some remarkable plays by Karnad
Odakalu Bimba is a Kannada monodrama that was written in 2005. This play was translated and titled Bikhre Bimb in Hindi and A Heap of Broken Images in English. In its new production which was in English, the play was directed by Alyque Padamsee and featured Shabana Azmi in the lead role.
Taledanda was written in 1990, and it explores the rise of the radical protests and reform movements such as Lingaytism in the 12th century in Karnataka. Karnad was awarded the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award in 1993 and the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1994 in Kannada language for this play. Karnad also received Jnanpith Award in 1998.
The Dreams of Tipu Sultan
The Dreams of Tipu Sultan was written in 1997 and since then the play has been performed by various groups around the world. Karnad traverses the legendary historic moments and the final days of the ruler of Mysore — Tipu Sultan in this play.
The Fire and The Rain
Girish Karnad’s Kannada play Agni Mattu Male written in 1989 was translated into Hindi by Ram Gopal Bajaj as “Agni Aur Barkha” as a multilayered work of theatrical art. Girish Karnad’s Mahabharat play, Agni Mattu Male was adapted into Arjun Sajnani’s Agni Varsha starring Amitabh Bachchan and Raveena Tandon.
Tughlaq A Play in Thirteen Scenes
Tughlaq was written by Karnad in 1964. One of his favorites, the play is about an idealist 14th-century Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughluq on the Nehruvian era which began with ambitious idealism and ended up in disillusionment.
Wedding Album was written in 2009 is a comedy and a moving spectacle which speaks about the country we live in today. The central characters of this play portray the modern, middle-class and the Indian family. This play has already been staged at numerous venues and was translated by Karnad himself from Kannada into English.
Broken Images was written in 2005 and it brutally exposes a person’s psyche which is reduced to suppressed bitterness over the period of time. This play resonates with the most common people in today’s world and a lot of people’s closest relations are with digital screens.
Also read: India’s prominent theatre personalities