Girish Karnad
Girish KarnadFacebook

He is one of noted Kannada writer and playwright. He directed and acted in several South Indian cinema and Bollywood movies. He is a Rhodes Scholar and Jnanpith Award winner. He passed away this morning. Who are we talking about? He is none other than Girish Karnad.

Girish Karnad was born to Krishnabai née Mankikar and Dr Raghunath Karnad in Matheran, Maharashtra on May 19, 1938. He was the third of the four children of the couple. His primary schooling was in Marathi. His parents were impressed with the plays of travelling theatre group Natak Mandalis and they introduced him to groups in Sirsi, Karnataka. He was an ardent admirer of Yakshagana.

Girish Karnad moved to Dharwad in Karnataka with his family when he was 14. He passed his graduation in mathematics and statistics from Karnatak Arts College, Dharwad in 1958. Later he went to England, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in philosophy, political science and economics at Magdalen in Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar (1960–63).

He started his career at the Oxford University Press (OUP) in Chennai in 1963 and he resigned this job after seven years in 1970. He was highly influenced by the renaissance in Western literature when he was pursuing his higher education in London, where he published his first play called Yayati in 1961. After resigning from the OUP, he got involved with local amateur theatre group The Madras Players.

Girish wrote plays and translated them into English for four decades. His play with contemporary issues and he often used history and mythology to tackle these issues. Nagamandala, Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Hittina Hunja are some of the notable dramas wriitten by him.

His plays have been translated into some Indian languages. Ebrahim Alkazi, BV Karanth, Alyque Padamsee, Prasanna, Arvind Gaur, Satyadev Dubey, Vijaya Mehta, Shyamanand Jalan, Amal Allana and Zafer Mohiuddin have directed his plays.

In 1970, Girish Raghunath Karnad made his acting debut with Pattabhirama Reddy's Kannada film Samskara (Funeral Rites). In his acting spanning five decades, he has essayed important roles in over 90 movies in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi and another six films are lined up for release in the coming days. He also worked in TV series like Malgudi Days (1987) and Indradhanush (1989).

Girish Karnad made his debut as a film director with Kannada movie Vamsha Vriksha in 1971. Later, he directed more than 10 movies and a couple of documentaries and Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Utsav and Kanooru Heggadithi are notable among them.

Besides, Girish Karnad worked as visiting professor at the University of Chicago and Fulbright playwright-in-residence between 1987 and 88. He also served as director of the Nehru Centre and as Minister of Culture, in the Indian High Commission, London (2000–2003).

Girish Garnard was honoured with several awards for his amazing contribution to films, theatre and literature. He won more than 20 Filmfare, Karnataka state and National awards for his contribution to various spares of filmmaking. For his literary work, he won Sangeet Natak Akademi, Rajyotsava Award, Sahitya Academy award, Kannada Sahitya Parishat Award and Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Jnanpith Award.