Exeunt, Girish Karnad
The veteran actor, director and playwright Girish Karnad, breathes his last earlier today after a prolonged illness
Towards the later years of his life, one would remember Girish Karnad as the theatre stalwart on whom age didn't seem to have left a significant visible mark, except the nasal oxygen tube that had become his permanent companion -- seen in his role as intelligence chief in Tiger Zinda Hai, as well as to countless protest marches in memory of slain senior journalist Gauri Lankesh.
So what if he had to rely on external help to breathe, he was very much the conscientious citizen first, always ready to raise his voice against societal wrongs. In Karnad's passing, not only has the world of theatre lost a staunch voice that grappled with contemporary issues through an interrogative approach towards history but a keen observer of India's current affairs and champion of the freedom of expression.
Karnad, a Jnanpith award and Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan recipient, passed away at his Bengaluru residence. The noted actor, director and playwright was 81 and was battling a prolonged illness.
An outpouring of grief could be seen on social media soon after the news came in, with actor Kamal Haasan tweeting:
Mr.Girish Karnad, His scripts both awe and inspire me. He has left behind many inspired fans who are writers. Their works perhaps will make his loss partly bearable.— Kamal Haasan (@ikamalhaasan) June 10, 2019
Apart from his memorable roles in Pukar and Iqbal, Karnad wrote several important plays including Tughlaq (its Irani adaptation is in the works) and Taledanda (its Hindi adaptation was staged recently in Mumbai by Sunil Shanbag).
"Those plays which are very contemporary but are forgotten a few years later are not political plays. Political plays talk about much more than a political event; they talk about the forces that shape it. After all, we still do Hamlet or Mother Courage. I have an offer now to translate my play Tughlaq into Iranian. Now, why is that? Because it makes sense in Iran today. So, I take it as a compliment that Taledanda, which was written 30 years ago in another context, has come to the stage again," Karnad had told mid-day earlier this year, in what was one of his last interviews to Indian media.
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