Known as a versatile actor, a gifted cultural administrator, a renowned communicator and a person of wide accomplishments and interests, Girish Karnad breathed his last on Monday, May 10. Karnad succumbed to a prolonged illness at his residence in Vittal Mallya Road, Bengaluru.
Born in Maharashtra on May 19, 1938, he was 81. He was a recipient of the 1998 Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour conferred in India. Karnad is recognised as a playwright who marked the coming of age of modern Indian playwriting in Kannada.
The plays of Karnad explored folklore, mythology and history and said to be a reflection of the struggles and challenges of contemporary life. His plays translated into English have received acclaim. His plays have been translated into some Indian languages as well and have been directed by directors like Ebrahim Alkazi, B. V. Karanth, Alyque Padamsee, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur, Vijaya Mehta, Shyamanand Jalan, Amal Allana and Zafer Mohiuddin among others.
Here's a look at some of his remarkable plays:
Odakalu Bimba, a Kannada monodrama was written in 2005 and marked Karnad's return to direction after a period of thirty years. He directed the play with KM Chaitanya. It was translated and titled Bikhre Bimb in Hindi and A Heap of Broken Images in English. in a new production of it in English which was directed by Alyque Padamsee and featured Shabana Azmi playing the lead role.
Written in 1990, the Kannada play explores the rise of the radical protest and reform movement, Lingaytism, in 12th century Karnataka. The literature was recognised by the scholars and Karnad was awarded the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award (1993) and the Sahitya Akademi Award (1994) in Kannada language for the play. He also received Jnanpith Award for the same in 1998.
The Dreams of Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan Kanda Kanasu or The Dreams of Tipu Sultan was written in 1997 and since then it has been performed many times by different groups around the world (mostly in Pakistan and India). Through the eyes of an Indian court historian and a British Oriental scholar, Karnad traverses the historic moments and the last days of Tipu Sultan-- the Ruler of Mysore in the play.
The Fire and The Rain
Girish Karnad's Mahabharat play, Agni Mattu Male was adapted into Arjun Sajnani's Agni Varsha starring Amitabh Bachchan, Jackie Shroff, Nagarjuna, Raveena Tandon and music composed by Sandesh Shandilya and Taufiq Qureshi.
His other notable plays include titles like Yayati, Tughlaq, Hayavadana and Benda Kaalu on Toast among others.