A Jnanpith winner and a recipient of the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, apart from multiple National Film Awards and a Sahitya Akademi honour, Karnad was born on May 19, 1938, in Matheran. He graduated from the Karnatak University and was a Rhodes Scholar in the University of Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics.
An expressive conversationalist and liberal who believed in the true spirit of secularism, Girish Karnad was a colossus in India's cultural landscape. "A man must commit a crime at least once in his lifetime. Only then will his virtue be recognised," Karnad has been famously quoted by his fans as well as his detractors.
'Yayati' in 1961 marked his first tryst with theatre and established his ability to create dramatic experiences. His work in the theatre world was seeped in historical and cultural stories but told with a touch of modernism, which made them conducive for translations in English and other languages that took them to a wider audience.
Girish Karnad went on to the historical Tughlaq, followed by Agni Mattu Male, Hayavadana, Nagamandala and Taledanda, emerging as one of Kannada literature's foremost playwrights. 'Tughlaq' is one of the gems, which theatre aficionados of the 1970s, would remember for being showcased in the precincts of Old Fort in the capital city. The play, directed by Ebrahim Alkazi -- the doyen of Indian theatre -- got embedded with the city's cultural life.
With his maiden film 'Samskara' (1970) -- which he wrote and acted in -- on the caste system, Karnad had set the tone of his creative expression -- bold and fearless, and he continued that streak in a stream of Kannada, Hindi and Marathi films. He also featured in Hindi movies 'Manthan', 'Nishant', 'Pukar', 'Iqbal', 'Dor' and 'Ek Tha Tiger.'
The multi-faceted author and playwright hosted a weekly science programme on state-run Doordarshan titled "Turning Point". Featuring scientist Yash Pal, the award-winning show explained complex, modern scientific discoveries in simple language.
Jnanpith winner and noted theatre personality, actor and playwright Girish Karnad passed away at his Bengaluru home on Monday at the age of 81 following age-related complications. Here's a look at some vintage photos of Girish Karnad, in his remembrance. (All photos/FTII archives, sourced by Chaitraly Deshmukh and mid-day archives)
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